1968 Corvette Convertible
“We’re just going to drive it around and enjoy it, and then see if somebody else wants to enjoy it,” says Jack Crowley when asked about future plans for his current project, a 1968 Corvette convertible with a 427ci big block.
Crowley, the owner of C & J Automotive in Berwyn, Pa., previously restored a ’69 396ci Chevelle SS from the ground up with his son, also named Jack. Now, his son is taking on a bigger role in
the business, allowing Crowley the opportunity to take a break from running the company. Now that he’s in a more flexible time of his life, his plans include restoring cars, enjoying them and then selling them when the time is right.
The Corvette was one Crowley had been searching for. These cars were popular when he was growing up and he had always liked this body style the most. “Back when I was in high school, this is what we drove around. You could buy these for $1,000. These cars were everywhere, these were what we grew up with.” he says. When he found one on eBay, he made the purchase with the intention of restoring it as close to original as possible.
The car was shipped from Missouri and arrived to Crowley in what seemed like decent shape. It was given a complete look-over to see what needed to be done. Crowley noticed that the interior
needed work, so he started to take things out. Upon further investigation, it became clear how much other work would actually need to be done. The poor quality of the interior forced him to pull it entirely out and start over.
The haphazard wiring from 1968 presented another problem. He is currently working on restructuring the wiring and keeping it factory original. Many of the components had to be re-repaired from jobs that were not done correctly in the past.
Right now, Crowley is in the process of reinstalling the interior. The carpet is back inside the car and Crowley is ready to install a brand-new top. Dedicated to keeping the car as original as possible, it has no air conditioning and a concourse chrome custom legacy original radio was installed. The 427 is mated to a 4-speed M22 Rock Crusher. The car also has power windows and brakes.
He’s found that quality parts are readily available if you are patient. Crowley has been able to get a lot of parts online through Eckler’s Corvette and Zip Corvette. Once the interior is in, he plans to tighten up the suspension, making the car more modern and easier to drive.
Crowley has had the car for about eight months now and the only thing delaying completion is waiting for the parts. Once the job is finished, he plans on using it as a marketing tool for C & J Automotive, taking it to car shows to tell people what the shop is capable of. This is a strategy that Crowley has used previously with older cars, including his ’69 Chevelle. Crowley has even considered hosting his own car shows at the shop.
The restoration process for Crowley seems to be about connecting with the past and sharing that experience with others.
“It takes you back to the years where you had 6–8 cars taken apart in your driveway at any given time. My parents were super patient, this is just what we did. We would just tear them apart in our driveways,” Crowley says. “It was different back then. It was all mechanical. You took them apart, you put them back together. Now it’s hard to do that. It’s very electronic. People can’t work on cars like they used to. Back then we just threw on a set of dirty jeans and jumped inside the motor and started tearing things apart. Parts were flying all over. Now it’s just not like that. It’s a different era.”