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Scouring ads and backyards, following up on word-of-mouth leads, all culminating in the thrill of loading up a newly acquired carcass and hauling it home is the best part of a project car for some of us. The hunt can be exhilarating, often more fun than the restoration itself. Telling the story of how you and the car found one another, the drive across three states in the sleet running on no sleep, the negotiation process, and finally the drive home as you figure out how to break the “good’ news to your spouse, is what car shows and cruise nights are all about. But what if a primo restoration candidate fell into your lap, say when you were too small to even reach the pedals?

Steve Grybel’s father bought this ’72 Vette new and drove it more than most. A daily driver for over 20 years, it was finally retired in ’94, which is where Steve took the reins for a total restoration. Steve was always fond of the car and wanted to bring it back to glory so he and his father could continue to enjoy it together.

Taking a sharp departure from most C3 builds and Corvettes in general, Steve elected to put the family Vette on air. Now, bagging a ’72 Corvette is nothing like cutting up your S10; there’s no bolt in 3-link kit with the possibility of getting it done in a weekend. Making the stock IRS work without the transverse leaf spring took more attempts than most would care to admit. Ensuring the suspension would cycle up and down properly without sending the ‘glass fenders into the tires while setting the chrome side pipes on the ground was no small feat. AirLift Dominator 2600 bags are found at each corner, pressing against the stock control arms in front and custom ‘arms in the rear. In place of the quintessential 15x8 rallies, Steve stuffed a set of 17x8 Leadvilles from Colorado Customs up into the fenders wrapped in Dunlop rubber.

Under the reverse-opening hood lies a 355 Chevy that’s been detailed to an extreme level. Internally the mouse has a lumpy cam, roller rockers and a host of new parts, while a polished Edelbrock intake, air cleaner and a serpentine front accessory drive (in chrome) round out the exterior. Everything under the hood was painted, polished or chromed according to a plan; Steve wanted to avoid the “oh my gosh it’s all chrome” look, where you can’t see anything because everything is reflective. Rather, select parts are body color, black or polished. Take the valve covers, dipping them is a no-brainer, but they are way cooler in their current painted-and-polished livery; the contrast really makes them. The idyllic combo of a 700R4 and 3.55 rear gears make the Vette both quick around town and capable of getting out of town.

The exterior of the ’72 is a sight to behold. We stumbled across this car in a crowded parking lot in Ohio, and to say the custom-mixed pearl yellow beauty stood out is an understatement. Pearl paint is awesome in the way it looks great, and different, in all lighting conditions. Before the Matrix Automotive paint was laid down, the door locks, antenna and emblems were buzzed off and a ’69 427 hood was set in place. That L88 scoop just can’t be beat. Up top, a custom one-piece roof was created (so long, T-tops) to keep the slick look going.

There isn’t much cabin space inside a C3, but Steve still made his mark. Most notable for us is the dash. Enthusiasts already noticed that the five gauges in the center console are MIA, replaced by a pair of AC vents and a Pioneer touch-screen head unit. The instrumentation was distilled into the stock speedo and tach openings; a dual-round Dakota Digital VHX system has been fitted to the bezel, boasting six gauges where there used to be two. The new layout makes driving easier, as everything is front and center, plus it frees up the aforementioned console space. Seating is courtesy of black leather-wrapped C5 Vette seats, while a color-matched shift knob and the billet Vintage Air control panel rounds out the center console.

After seven years, the LoVette is on the streets. It definitely turns heads and draws attention wherever it goes, but more importantly, Steve and his father are cruising it every chance they get. The sensation is different than when it was new, but the memories flood back whenever they turn the key. Inheriting the Corvette instead of chasing down some ratty hulk did rob Steve of the thrill of the hunt, but spending the better part of a decade rebuilding a family treasure is more rewarding than any classified ad.


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