About 20 years ago Quentin Carbone was starting his construction business in New York City. He needed a subcontractor who was excellent at building and renovating storefronts, and his father recommended a friend by the name of John Tara. Carbone and Tara did end up doing business with one another, and out of that grew a friendship, strengthened in large measure by their mutual love for vintage cars. Tara had a fairly substantial collection that included a few Corvettes, and Carbone was well on his way to becoming a self-described Corvette fanatic himself.
“I had a 1968 convertible that I purchased in 1986,” he remembers. “I really enjoyed driving the car, but it sat in the garage a lot because it wasn’t very reliable.” The lightly modified C3 was “gorgeous,” according to Carbone, thanks to its candy-apple red paint, Centerline rims, white top and chromed-out LT-1 engine. “I loved it, but I started to realize that getting a stock…Corvette may be a better way to go.”
At the time Carbone was driving a black-on-black ’89 convertible with a six-speed, and while he describes that C4 as “a lot of fun,” the allure of another classic model was too strong to resist. “I wanted an old one that was reliable and that I could drive without worrying,” he says.
Tara took notice of Carbone’s increasing appreciation for vintage Corvettes and began showing him photos of some of the cars in his collection. “One day he showed me a photo of a 1967 big-block coupe parked right in front of Rockefeller Center,” recalls Carbone. “It was Marlboro Maroon with a black hood ‘stinger,’ and I was instantly hooked on that particular car, so my begging and groveling began.”
To the dismay of Carbone, Tara didn’t want to sell the ’67. Making matters worse in a way, it was an original L71 427/435 car, and by the late 1980s the value of original ’67 435-horsepower Vettes had skyrocketed to the point that Carbone didn’t think he could afford it even if Tara were willing to sell. Still, he didn’t permit that minor inconvenience to dissuade him from frequently reminding Tara he was interested in buying the car. This went on for years, and though Carbone eventually resigned himself to the likelihood that his friend would never sell, he didn’t stop asking. Then one day the phone rang, and all of his tenacity paid off.
“Unbelievably to me, one day in 1996 John decided to let go of a couple of his cars, and he was kind enough to offer me the 1967 before he brought it to market,” Carbone relates. “The only [question] was, how could I afford it? I haggled with him for days over the price, eventually convincing him that his lack of paperwork for the car negatively impacted its value. So I ended up buying it at a very discounted price, which I was able to afford after selling my ’68.”
The “very discounted” price reflected the fact that there appeared to be no documentation accompanying the sale, a major impediment to establishing the value of any old Corvette with highly desirable options such the Tri-Power 427. But as it turned out, that documentation was actually right there under Carbone’s nose—he just needed to look for it. Not long after he got home with the car, he located the original owner’s manual and Protect-O-Plate, still in their original plastic bag, stashed underneath the passenger’s seat. At which point he received another pleasant surprise.