1966 427 big-block 425hp Corvette Found in a Cornfield
David Engler had no idea a simple question at work would turn up a 1966 Corvette convertible tucked away in a container inside a shed for 40 years. He also never thought the price would be within his reach.
“I wanted a Corvette my entire life. I’m 66 years old now and my wife said, ‘Well, you’ll probably never have one,’ and then I found it, this one.” Engler couldn’t have been more ecstatic. The Corvette was a convertible with the hottest 427 offered that year, the 425-horse L72 backed by a four-speed transmission and a set of 4.11 gears in a Positraction differential. This is the Corvette that some enthusiasts consider the most brutal non-L88 mid-year of them all, even hotter than the 435-horse 427s with Tri-power. “I found the car four years ago in March 2014. The way I got the thing was I worked for the Scott Town Roads Department for 20 years. I retired last January. A young mechanic that worked out there said his uncle had this old Corvette sitting in a barn that had been there since he was a little kid.”
The mechanic’s name was Lyle. Lyle knew Engler had some old cars. Engler mentioned to Lyle he was looking for a project when he retired.
“Lyle said, ‘Well, my uncle’s got this old Corvette out there, but I don’t know if he would sell it.’ I told him to start pestering his uncle to see if I could get the thing bought. One thing led to another and he finally called and asked me if I was interested in the old Corvette. And I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ That was on a Friday. And he said, ‘When do you want to look at it?’ And I said, how ‘bout Saturday morning about eight o’clock? So, I went and looked at it that following day and told him I was very interested. He said, ‘Let me think about it over the weekend.’ And he called me back on Tuesday and said he’d sell it.”
To get the car, Engler took his oldest son Trent, nephew Dennis Marple and friend Ken Schoenthaler, who restores cars for a living. They drove into the country to a farmhouse with various buildings that were falling down. They “tromped through weeds higher than our heads” to a collapsed building on what proved to be a really fun day.
They had to dig about three feet of dirt off the south side of the structure to get the side door open. The red Corvette was visible inside an “aluminum truck box” underneath the wooden barn that had collapsed. The doors were off the back of the container and they could make out the back end of a red 1966 Corvette with a hardtop that “barely fit” inside.
The tires were flat and since the valve stems were gone off the rims they could not air up the tires. Engler had brought a set of 14-inch Camaro wheels, but they would not clear the disc brake calipers. Ken drove back to his shop and returned with a set of 15-inch wheels mounted with tires so they could roll the car out of the building.
Incredibly, the brakes were not frozen. Engler didn’t even have to replace the rotors. He had them turned and they were fine.
Engler thinks the wooden floor of the container helped cut down on moisture drifting into the underside of the Vette.
Engler cut down a tree to free a bellhousing that was on the ground nearby. He was totally shocked when he checked the numbers and found this bellhousing was correct for this Corvette. “The mice and the raccoons had a heyday with it,” Engler said.
The owner did not want to know anything about the car “when it leaves here,” so Engler prefers to leave his name out. “He said he should have been killed in it numerous times. He had blown the clutch up at one time and almost took his leg off. He lived down a gravel road and drove it like it was an ordinary car, which was 40 years ago when it was a $4,000 car.”
They dragged the Corvette out of the shed and winched it onto their trailer. The Vette was all there, but the owner had pulled the 427 and wrapped it in burlap soaked in oil, then stored in a metal crate. The numbers matched. This was a factory 425-horse 427.
The Milano Maroon paint was original. The car had no power steering or power brakes, and appears to be a muscle Corvette through and through. The stock AM/FM radio shocked Engler when he turned it on and it worked.
Engler completed a ground-up restoration in early 2017.