As a young boy growing up in Buffalo, New York, Cliff Kancler spent hour upon hour building models in the basement of his family's house. Shunning outside assistance, he liked to figure things out on his own, relishing the challenge of creating his own parts or wiring his own electrical circuit. That he grew up to become an engineer surprised no one. Similarly, the fact that he singlehandedly restored the '69 Corvette on these pages makes absolute sense. Still, the degree to which Kancler reengineered this coupe is impressive. Beneath its stock Cortez Silver paint-which Kancler applied his own garage-is a lightweight, LS3-powered machine with a highly tuned, autocross-ready suspension.

As more or less a Corvette purist, Kancler never really imagined himself performing what some might consider a "restomod" job. You see, he's owned this particular '69 coupe since 1972. At that point he was newly married and just a few years into his engineering job at Lockheed Martin in San Jose, California. He had sold his Pontiac GTO to buy a wedding ring and, for the first time since he got his driver's license, was without a performance car. Feeling sorry for him, his wife suggested they start a fund to buy his dream car-a Corvette. Having witnessed the Mako Shark show car at the New York Auto Show in 1965, Kancler had a soft spot for third-generation Vettes. After a few years of saving money, however, he and his wife were well short of the funds needed for a new C3. "The jar never got full," he says. A '71 Corvette stickered for $5,800; they had amassed less than half that.

Undaunted, Kancler began searching for used examples. He found one in San Francisco, where he and his wife were living at the time. It was a an L46-equipped machine with a four-speed manual transmission. The original owner had driven it out from Ohio and put in a couple years of hard use, subjecting the car to street parking in San Francisco. As a result, the Cortez Silver C3 was no beauty queen. And even then, the contents of Kancler's piggy bank didn't add up to the asking price. Fortunately, after explaining that $2,600 was all he had, Kancler was able to drive off in the Corvette. And, for the next few decades, he kept on driving. The '69 served as his daily driver-for much of the time, it was his only car-shuttling Kancler to and from Lockheed Martin until 2007, when he retired. At that point, the odometer read 280,000 miles. "That's a trip to the moon and partway back," he notes.

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Source: Eric Gustafson, Corvette Magazine

Submitted by Phil Ellison