1970 Chevrolet LS5 Corvette Targa Top: The baddest stingray ever.

Compared to their European counterparts, American sports cars are not heralded as much. But to the real enthusiast, Chevrolet has its own iconic car, the Corvette. While the second generation Corvette (1963-67) has its own identity, The third generation was the most memorable one, with the longest production period (1968-81).

The ’68 to ’72 Chevrolet Corvettes are pretty rare in the Philippines. The big-block equipped ones are even rarer. Because of their value, some are never used or just stored and in need of restoration, and some are just forgotten, like this Corvette for example. This ’70 454 Targa Top (T-Top) was languishing in a Makati-based garage when accidentally discovered by the current owner. It was in a sad state of disrepair, exposed to the elements. There was even a small puddle in the driver’s floorpan. Fortunately, all the vital parts were there. The princely sum was paid immediately and the forlorn coupe was taken to a much amiable location.

Upon inspection, it was discovered that the Corvette still had the original 390hp LS5 454 engine and the 4-speed Muncie M-21 close ratio transmission. Compared to its 450hp LS6 brethren, this engine was tamer, with power brakes and AC, to make it more streetable. Still, the LS5 was a formidable powerplant. With a combination of a lightweight body, a torquey engine and a manual tranny, it was, and still, a stoplight terror.

This prime example was lovingly restored for 3 years. It was disassembled properly, taking note of all parts, and sourced NOS parts as much as possible. The engine didn’t need a whole rebuild, so it was just freshened up with new rings and seals. The owner couldn’t resist a little more power so he installed a hotter camshaft, an Edelbrock manifold and tubular headers. He also used thicker ignition wires for more spark. Fortunately, he labeled and stored the original parts just in case the restoration bug bites.

The fiberglass body was also cleaned and painted. Originally in Marina Blue, the excited owner decided to go with Matador Red as the curves looked wilder in this hue. New weather strips were a must, especially for the T-Top roof. The frame was refurbished with new bushings and original-type shock absorbers, and the brake and fuel lines were replaced.

The original 8-inch Rallye wheels were cleaned and a new set of “Sombrero” caps and embellishers were installed. Finally, instead of the original bias ply tires, a set of 245/60/15 BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires was installed for safety, as this Corvette is used as often the weather permits.

There you have it, a rare, street driven 454, 4-on-the-floor, T-Top Corvette, here in the Philippines! Who would have known?

Words and pictures by Earl Manalansan

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