Ron Cherry: Corvette LT-1 offers a lot of muscle in a small body
Since Kim Pierson is a self-avowed lover of Muscle Cars, when he had an opportunity to buy a ’70 LT-1 Corvette in 2001, he was interested.
He was at a party given by a friend in the Bay Area when the friend told him he had a Vette and it was for sale. When Kim saw it was the LT-1, he was more than interested. He had owned a ’61 Vette when he was 21 years old, so he was familiar with America’s fiberglass sports car.
“I always liked Vettes and knew about LT-1’s from my reading,” he said. “And 1970 was my favorite year.”
The car was in great condition, with all original equipment, a quality repaint in the original Sunflower Yellow and even the original leather seats.
The options it had were leather interior, a tilt/telescoping steering column, an AM/FM radio and power brakes. It only had about 79,000 miles on the 31-year-old car. It was also a matching-number car, with the engine number a match to the partial VIN. Not only that, the price was more than right.
“He was selling it for about a third of book,” he said. “I knew what he had into it and that was only half of it. I couldn’t refuse. It was a no-brainer. We struck a deal and I bought it.”
Although Kim was pleasantly pleased with the price, he wasn’t terribly surprised that his friend was selling the Vette.
“He was a dot-commer, not a car guy, so it just sat. I’m into Muscle Cars. I’ve got a shop with a rack and do my own work on my cars.”
The dot-commer’s loss was a car guy’s gain.
When Chevy came out with the LT-1 engine in 1970, it was the high point of its small-block line. With four-bolt mains, a high-lift cam mated to solid lifters, 11:1 compression, a high-rise aluminum intake with a hefty 780 cfm Holley carb on top and transistor ignition, it was designed for high-revving horsepower. And it achieved that. At 6,000 rpm, it pumped out a whopping 370 HP and 380 Ft-Lbs of torque, at least that’s what the factory said. Some feel that was typical GM understatement.
The NHRA rated it at 425 HP. Whatever the case, it has been recorded turning the quarter mile in 13.02 seconds at 110 MPH and doing 0-60 MPH in 5.7 seconds. While the modern Corvette does much better, the LT-1 was more than respectable for its day. With an M21 4-speed trans and 3.55:1 or 3.70:1 posi rear-end, it was definitely a classic Muscle Car.
Since out of 17,319 Vettes built that year, only 1287 had the LT-1 engine, it was the rarest engine option for that year and a rare car indeed. Since buying the LT-1, Kim has not had much that needed to be done, mainly some detailing. Although the car had aftermarket headers, the original ram’s horn exhaust manifolds came with the car and he put them back on. It had a racing clutch that he replaced with a stock type. Nothing else needed to be done in the 15 years since he bought the Vette. Kim regrets that he hasn’t driven it that much. Partially it is due to the fact that he has been working on two other Muscle Cars, a 69 ½ Plymouth Road Runner with a 400 CID 6-Pack (three two-barrel carbs) engine that is a show car and a 69 AMX that is still being restored.
“I love performance cars,” Kim said, with a touch of nostalgia. “I don’t drive them that hard now, but I used to.”
Although wife Christine is “a car buff herself,” she doesn’t drive the Vette.
“She’s too short to see over the hood,” Kim said.
Anyone who has driven a Vette of the 1968 to 1982 vintage (termed the Sharks) will understand how the diving nose makes it very difficult to judge distance, especially for those who are “height challenged.” Since buying his LT-1, Kim has only put about 100 miles a year on the car, mainly to local car shows and cruises.
One place he does occasionally drive it is to Cars and Coffee, which meets on Saturdays from 8 to 10 in the morning out in front of Daily Donuts in the K-Mart parking lot on McKnight Ave. There, it can be with other great Muscle Cars as well as hot rods, imports and classics. It’s right at home.
Ron Cherry’s four books, including the Morg Mahoney detective series, are available on Kindle and in print copy at Amazon. His latest Celtic saga, Three Legs of the Cauldron, is now available on Amazon. For more about his writing, go to http://www.rlcherry.com.
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