Everyone knew what was going on, and they all chipped in. Whether it was spare parts, their time or simply giving up a little space in one of the Lehman’s Garage service bays, everyone understood why they were doing it.
Rick Cossette and his cousin were rebuilding a 1967 Corvette Sting Ray, and they were doing it for their boss—Cossette’s father, Dick.
“It was something my father bought and brought up here, and we all knew the story on it,” says Cossette, president of Minneapolis-based Lehman’s Garage. “Everyone just kind of chipped in.”
Dick Cossette had owned a nearly identical ’67 Corvette when he was younger, but sold it in 1969 to help supplement the purchase of the original downtown Minneapolis location of Lehman’s Garage. (The company now has six shops across the Twin Cities metropolitan area.)
It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the elder Cossette had a chance to again purchase what had remained his favorite car.
When he found one on a trip to Florida, it was just months after he’d been diagnosed with colon cancer.
“The main goal was just to get it to where my dad could drive it,” Cossette, 44, says.
With his cousin taking the lead on the project, nearly everyone in the shop lent a hand to get the car up and running—and as close to matching Dick Cossette’s original Corvette as possible.
It took nearly two years, Cossette says, but his father couldn’t have been happier with the results.
The car has that year’s classic Goodwood green exterior and the distinct “stinger” big-block hood and fender vents.
Just from appearances, the car could easily be mistaken for the one Cossette’s father drove in the late ’60s. The only differences are on the inside.
Cossette, who wanted to add a little more power, had a crate-motor Chevy 350ci V8 swapped in for the ’67’s standard 327ci. The engine, mated to a four-speed manual transmission, makes 350 horsepower.
“We held on to that original engine, though, in case we ever decided to put it back to its original specs,” Cossette says. “That would only be to resell it, which has never been the plan. We just wanted to make sure the thing drove really well.”
Cossette’s father drove the car as much as he could, right up until cancer claimed his life in August of 2002. At that point, Cossette “took the car in.”
“I’ve always kind of taken care of it. We had it together, and he was sick for a while with cancer, so I took it upon myself to make sure it was always taken care of,” he says. “He really enjoyed driving it, and the goal now is to just keep it on the road.”
Cossette does all of the car’s regular maintenance and repairs (although there haven’t been many), and drives it regularly during the summers.
And, he says, the car still runs great.
“I’ve had it to about 125 (mph), and it was still climbing there,” he says. “She gets pretty harmonious when she gets going that fast. It’s best, if you’re on the freeway, when she gets up to 100. After that, the gearing is a little bit different.”
Cossette says he has “no idea” how much his father paid for the car some 20 years ago, and he says they never kept track of the hours or money put into restoring it.
“It wasn’t something we were worried about,” he says. “It was just something we wanted to get done for (my dad).”