Crown Jewel

With a little help from a master restorer, David Wahrhaftig found the final piece in his Corvette troika

November 5, 2017
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Because both performance and cosmetic modifications were so common in the 1960s and ’70s, it’s nearly impossible to find Corvettes of this vintage that haven’t been altered in some fashion. It’s even more difficult to locate early Vettes that have never been damaged, especially in the case of the ultra-high-performance examples, which were typically driven to their limits and beyond by overenthusiastic—and oftentimes under-skilled—owners.

Finally, there’s the issue of fraud when it comes to very rare and valuable examples, such as the 427-cube, 435-horsepower ’67 featured here. But while the scarcity of authentic, original and high-quality ’67 Tri-Power cars has scared off plenty of would-be buyers over the years, it did not dissuade enthusiast David Wahrhaftig from searching for one of his own.

Like so many others who came of age in the late 1960s, Wahrhaftig fell in love with hot cars early on. To this day, he vividly recalls the Chevelle SSs, Novas, Mustangs, Challengers, Barracudas and Camaros in and around the working-class neighborhood he grew up in outside of Washington, D.C. The cars that made the greatest impression, however, were the Corvettes running around town.

“I remember my first Corvette sighting like it was yesterday,” says Wahrhaftig. “The girl down the street got picked up for senior prom by a guy in a Roman Red ’62. I had never seen one in the ‘flesh’ before, and it was like sighting a spaceship—never to be forgotten. The guy had on a white tuxedo, the girl looked like a movie star and it seemed so improbable for our neighborhood. That image has stayed with me.”

Amidst the typical performance cars of the era that he regularly saw, another Corvette remains forever etched in Wahrhaftig’s memory. “The most unusual car for our neighborhood was a heavily customized ’62…with a huge, chromed blower sticking up through the hood, slicks and a custom paint job complete with the requisite flames.”

When Wahrhaftig got his license in 1973, a Corvette was out of reach financially, so he focused instead on working hard and saving his money to buy a Nova SS. “I worked as a paper boy during the school year, getting up at 4 a.m., and [then] poured concrete parking slabs during the summer in order to earn enough money to buy my own car,” he says.

But despite the best of intentions, the young car enthusiast was ultimately undone by his own naiveté. “I bought a standard ’70 Chevy Nova from a used-car dealer on the day I turned 16 and passed my driving test,” he recalls. “The dealer ripped me off in every way imaginable, going as far as to switch the tires out, keeping the new ones and installing old tires with about a day’s worth of driving left in them. It was a hard learned lesson, and the memory stays with me to this day.”

Also from Issue 118

  • 860-hp C7 Z06
  • C5 Buyer's Guide
  • Zora's C1 Prototypes
  • Restored '62 Roadster
  • '75 Convertible Driver
  • Ex-Vintage Racer '56
  • Racing: Tommy Milner
Buy Corvette magazine 118 cover
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