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Midyear tribute Corvette

One son’s tribute to his father’s passion for perfection

Story Carl Kotch Jr. / Images Andy Bolig - January 26, 2012 10:00 AM

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ENGINE The under that Stinger hood is featured the L71 big-block. Pushing out 435hp as built by the General, the engine still looks great, as restored by my dad. 

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INTERIOR When you’ve got a four-speed Muncie and a tri-powered big-block, what more do you need? Windows crank and so does the radio if you want to hear it over those sidepipes.

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STICKER One of the details on this car that makes Dad’s restorations stand out is the inclusion of the Pennyslvania inspection sticker from ’67. 

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REDLINES still wrap around those factory bolt-on wheels for ’67, but this time, they’re radials. The sidepipes still sound as good as they did back then. 

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FRIENDS A group of friends helped finish the restoration of the car. They are (left to right): Richie Riccutti, Joseph Kress, Jim Corazza, Jack Bindus, Joe Marnell, Carl Kotch, Tony Bindus, Jim Straka, John Swenda and Buddy Kress. Jon Steber also helped and took this group photo.

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He took his love and passion

for the Corvette and turned it into his profession.

My father, Carl Kotch’s love affair with Corvettes started in the ’60s. His older brother, Len, had a fuel injected ’58 that he would let him use to drive to high school.

In 1962, he purchased a new ’62 Ford Galaxie 406 convertible and spent a couple of years tuning and racing the Ford. He almost became a die-hard Ford fan. That was until Chevrolet introduced the new 427 engine in the Corvette. The big-block bug bit my father hard and his cars would never be lacking of a bowtie again.

Having restored Corvettes for the next 43 years, Dad had the opportunity to own quite a few – nearly a hundred of them to be exact, ranging from C1s all the way through the C5 generation. His eye for detail and quest for perfection garnished each car with a sense of care and dedication that can only come through a deep, enthusiastic respect for the car. He specialized in body-off restorations of midyear Corvettes and completed dozens of full-on restorations of this generation alone, doing most of the work himself. He amazed me.

My father was so infatuated by the Corvette and enjoyed working on them so much that he opened a business specializing in Corvettes. His garage dealt almost exclusively in Corvettes — buying, selling, fixing and restoring them on a daily basis. As the years went by, he continued to focus his business on strictly Corvettes. In his own words, it “was like never having a job!” He took his love and passion for the Corvette and turned it into his profession. He was simply “in the garage, playing with his cars” but it allowed him to earn a living doing what he loved.

His business evolved from selling and fixing used Corvettes to body-off restorations as the midyear generation cars aged and required restoring. He owned and rebuilt so many midyear Corvettes back when they were “new” cars that he truly developed an expertise when it came to restoring them later in life.

My dad restored so many midyear Corvettes since the ’80s that it is hard to capture the essence of his work by featuring one car. However, I feel that featuring the last ’67 Corvette that he restored is a wonderful tribute to a man that dedicated his life to keeping these cars running and in as good (or better) condition as when they left the factory.

When my dad got really sick, he was almost done with the ’67. However, he was so sick, he really couldn’t put the finishing touches on the car. All of his friends came together at his shop and we put the finishing touches on the car for him. It was an awesome day for my dad and probably meant more to him than words can describe.

Unfortunately, this was probably the last time he was at the shop, or out of the house for that matter. He lost his battle with cancer shortly after. My dad was a wonderful guy and was the epitome of what an auto enthusiast should be.

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