Home Travel Stories Destinations OOCC CORVETTE TRIP Part 2 Survivor Car Show, St. Charles, IL
OOCC CORVETTE TRIP Part 2 Survivor Car Show, St. Charles, IL PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 22:47

One Owner Collector Car- CORVETTE TRIP Part 2 Survivor Car Show, St. Charles, IL


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown.

____________ DAY EIGHT _____________________________________________________

Milwaukee, WI/ Glendale Heights, St. Charles, IL

Milwaukee morning traffic jams had me resigned to missing the morning of The Survivor Car show. The whole lakeside radiating outwards from Chicago is one massive interconnected suburb. If things remained this clumped up all the way to St. Charles it was going to take forever.

Slow Milwaukee rush hour traffic started to gain speed as volume thinned out southeast of city limits. Once the main highway transformed into a toll road at the Illinois border masses of cars diverted onto secondary toll free roads.

Suddenly I had a chance to make it to the show on time after all. After tossing coins in the wire mesh toll basket I blew off everyone drag racing into the virtually empty freshly paved highway ahead. Despite a strong headwind, my Corvette devoured miles of open road like a Saturn Rocket eating up space in big gulps.

I heard and felt the impact of what sounded like a rock hurtling across the car striking the top of the windshield frame with a load crack. Later I discovered that the combined force of the headwind and wind stream over the nose of the car tore the metal Corvette 'crossed flags' badge off the car. That's what people call 'haulin'!' Tom later found a replacement emblem using an online search that led to Virginia Vettes in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Glendale Heights, Illinois

It was a bit after 9 am in Glendale Heights, Illinois on the outskirts of St Charles when the power steering noisily started sucking air. Refilling the reservoir at the Mobil Oil station provided a view of vintage cars and Vettes flowing down the divided median street leading directly to the show.

The Survivor Collector Car show provides special parking for Corvettes on the Pheasant Run golf course. A line of Vettes snaked down a golf cart path to the parking. I walked back a hundred yards to the show through Corvettes owned by show goers. The Vettes displayed information signs, creating a mini Corvette show on the way to the main event.

1968 Corvette 427-435 hp

An unrestored mostly original Cordovan Maroon 1968 Corvette 427-435 hp sat in the parking area. This is the first of the Shark Vettes and mine is one of the last. The paint color on the 1968 was very similar to the Claret Red paint on my car. Despite shared heritage and color, tweaks and modifications over the 15 years of Shark Corvette development had morphed the two bookend cars into two different concepts.

The early Vettes have a more Spartan aggressive aura with tighter lines and businesslike minuscule interior. The later Vettes have a longer wider swoopy nose and tail designed to improve the co-efficient of drag in the quest for better MPG. Blackout trim on the later car replaces the 1968 chrome creating a smoother more flowing impression. The fastback window on 1978 and later Sharks open up the interior dramatically making it marginally practical. My glass T tops bring light into the interior.

The original 1968 cockpit is a narrow shadowy cave that makes you feel like you are 'wearing' the car when you drive it. The early chrome Sharks I have driven felt choppy, hard and very maneuverable compared to stock Vettes from later years with the cushioned body mounts. In the case of my car the Gymkhana suspension negates all the civilizing efforts made in a decade of refinement- it's just as brutal and tight as the old cars.

The 1968 Vette has a meaner nose and hood scoop, but the later slotted aluminum factory mags on my car shave a lot of unsprung weight and look more purposeful than the center cap/ wheel combo offered in the 1960s and early 1970s. The 1968 big block car is a major investment while my car is attainable for most people with a job.

The 1968 Vette was loaded with great options like Transistorized Ignition, F41 Suspension and a 4.11 Positraction. With only 9,291 original miles the deviations from factory paint and mechanical bits are few: a new hood installed in 1970 and a NOM from a Corvette assembled two weeks prior to this car.


The current owner is the third. The Vette was originally ordered by Donald Fiore on Nov 11, 1967 from the Long Chevrolet car dealership in Lake Forest, Illinois. To see a story about this dealer, go to the Illinois dealers in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website. Mr. Fiore traded in a 1965 Oldsmobile F85 convertible for the Vette and specified a long list of options.

The order form differs from the original window sticker which says a standard Corvette cost $4663.00 plus $41.50 transportation for a base price of $4,704.50. The order form quotes a lower base price of $4,336.00 but makes up for it with $457.10 destination and dealer prep. The window sticker adds option prices (the engine alone was $437.10) to arrive at a hefty total of $5,577.75. The order form option list took the car all the way to $5,863.00, but then a $500.00 discount was applied which is likely the trade- in value for the 1965 F85. Regardless of which price prevailed and despite discount and trade-in, Mr. Fiore had an expensive car in 1960s dollars when he took delivery April 29, 1968.


Long Chevrolet and Mr. Fiore were both situated in Lake Forest, Illinois and the car has remained in Illinois. The third owner said the car has never seen rain.


The optional Saddle Leather interior has a tinge of orange in it which mixes well with the exterior color. You can tell this is a 1968 because the ignition switch is on the dash. The ignition switch moved onto an anti theft steering column from 1969 onwards. The 4 speed close ratio and tinted glass are two other options chosen for this car.


A few unofficial car displays were set up around the perimeter of the show.

1966 Dodge Charger Hemi 8,000 miles

I was drawn to a Mauve 1966 Hemi Charger which had arrived too late to register. Co owner Keith Arteman revealed that it was a ONE OWNER unrestored original car with 8,000 miles and still uses the original oil filter and other regular maintenance items. It would have made a great ZZenith award candidate. To see the story of this car go to the ONE OWNER section of CAR STORIES in this website.

66 charger hemi one owner front

Close by I spotted a nice Buick Riviera with the cool barrel format speedometer. A few other cars dotted the grounds behind the field where the official event was taking place.

Survivor Car Show

Inside the show it was hard to know where to start in this sea of exciting original 1960s and 1970s American cars. There were also a few Jaguars and a VW sprinkled among the Detroit cars. Judges fanned out across the grass evaluating each car as a team. I hung near the discussions between judges to get the gist of how the Survivor Car judging process worked.

Cars are judged according to four equally weighted zones: Interior, Exterior, Under Hood, and Chassis. The cars need to be unmodified and unrefinished yet well enough preserved to serve as a template for restoration. Authentic cars are held to stringent standards of exact untouched factory original condition. Even dealership delivery condition often deviates from factory stock; so only a few cars earn the highest credentials.

To encourage preservation on a wider level, cars with a partial repaint or dealer undercoating can be certified in a lower category. A Survivor Car needs to be at least 20 years old and retain 50% of its original finish and equipment in good shape in three of the four zones. The FingerPrint cars have to score 75% in these areas in all four zones and be at least 30 years old.

The ultimate cars are the ZZenith certified cars. These cars score at least 90% in all four zones and are a minimum 40 years old. You can spot one simply by looking for a car with ALL the judges surrounding it. The entire board has to decide in these cases.

1968 Chevelle SS 396- 375 hp

68 chevelle ss 396 375 HP david dodd survivor

Sitting at the front of the field was David Dodd's ZZenith 1968 Chevelle SS 396. David and his daughter related stories of this fantastic ONE OWNER collector car while flipping through a binder of old photos and documents. The SS is all original unrestored except battery, shocks, fuel pump and master cylinder. To add icing to the cake, David's SS 396 is one of the top dog muscle cars of the 1960s, factory ordered with the rare 375 hp option. To see a story about this car, go to ONE OWNER in the CAR STORIES section of this site.

Winding through the 75 cars on the field spending half an hour per car meant it would be impossible to see every car or speak to every person. Many cars began pulling out mid afternoon. Exciting cars 'got away', but to quote a competitive sports mantra:

"It's not over until it's over."

I kept my focus on the moment, getting as much as possible crammed into the time without just skimming the surface.

1965 Pontiac LeMans

A 1965 Pontiac LeMans had miraculously escaped being cloned into a GTO. It's rare to see an unmolested LeMans. The trim is becoming a bit scarce since most of the LeMans specific trim is junked when people try to redo them as GTO clones.

65 lemans red survivor

This LeMans has so much space in the engine bay that there is a major gap between the front of the engine and the radiator. Note that the top of the block leaves plenty of room under the hood.

65 lemans survivor engine

1965 Oldsmobile F-85 with V6

One car that 'got away' was an interesting looking black 1965 Oldsmobile F-85 that won ZZenith. Owner William Luckenbill wasn't around when I came across the car. His black Olds is a twin to the LeMans. The Oldsmobile version of the A body for 1965 stayed with traditional headlight arrangement. Pontiac full size cars had already received stacked headlights and the A body Pontiacs got them in 1965.

65 olds f85 black bill survivor

William's 1965 Olds F-85 two door post coupe with 'poverty caps' and black wall tires is a bare bones strippo car. The Cutlass version of this car adds full size wheel covers and a higher level of interior trim. William's F-85 has an odometer reading of only 12,515 miles. It appeared to be an all original unrestored time machine.

65 olds F85 black survivor speedometer

This F-85 spent most of its life in Indianapolis, Indiana. Nearby show goers explained that Luckenbill was going to put a V8 into the car after buying it in 1996, but deferred to the wishes of the original owner who wrote a letter requesting that future owners not tamper with the originality of the car.


I enjoy driving the early F-85s. They have a tight short hood mimicking easily maneuvered compacts combined with a ride close to the smoothness of a full size. 1964/5 F85s feel slightly different than the later 'coke bottle' style 1966/7s which have more hood and less trunk. The trunk in the 1964-5 is enormous for a medium sized car.

I prefer the 1966/7 Cutlasses by a slight margin over the 1964/5s because the later cars settle you back in the car for an even better ride and handling experience. But the better balance comes at the expense of the 'compact' feel of the earlier cars and slightly less trunk room and restricted rear visibility due to the extended 'sail panel' roof style on 1966-67 Cutlasses.

I've only driven V8 versions of the 1965 F-85 so I can't comment on the handling possible in William's black car. He may have less 'nose down' handling characteristics than the typically encountered 1965 due to the lightweight Buick built 225 V6 engine coupled to a light weight 3 speed manual column shift.

The ZZenith cars kept coming. I talked to a few people who were keen to win an award and finally see the historic significance of their cars recognized. Some owners were well known in the hobby while others wished to remain anonymous. They all wanted to share their cars with fellow enthusiasts. Others were there to sell a vehicle hoping the exposure would connect them with the right buyer. Everyone shared an imperative need to tour the field and see as many cars as possible.

62 thunderbird art survivor

1962 Thunderbird

The next person I spoke to was Art. His Thunderbird earned a ZZenith award. Art regards himself as the 'custodian' of the T-bird which he inherited from his father. Art is pleased to display the car but prefers to maintain some privacy. To see a story on his unrestored original car, go to the TWENTY YEARS PLUS section of this website.

I spotted two of my all time favorites of the 'splashy' musclecars: a 1970 Cuda AAR and a 1970 Buick GSX. These two cars represent the purest distillation of musclecar era excess. In the last year of high compression before decades of detuning these extreme performance machines with eye catching looks represent a high water mark for over the top looks backed up by pinnacle engines. The Cuda uses a screaming small block while the Buick relies on a wild revving Hemi fighting big block.

1970 Cuda AAR

The appearance of the Plymouth Cuda AAR and Buick GSX evolved (or devolved according to some people) from the early musclecars. The stacked headlight tight bodied 1965 GTO is revered for unrestrained power and classic clean styling. Those early GTOs had delicate pinstripes emphasizing the fender lines. At the beginning of the muscle era the GTO was the ultimate visual package. You knew what it was at a glance despite its tasteful execution. At the start of the musclecar era you needed a magnifying glass to figure out which of the early Chrysler cars could suck your doors off. Those cars were sleepers.

At the other end of the musclecar era you needed to put on sunglasses to look at some of the high impact paint schemes, wide stripes, spoilers, scoops and window slats. Cars like the awesome 1969 Roadrunner Six Pack with the lift off hood, the Mustang Mach 1 and Boss, the GTO Judge or the Superbird explored just how far-out these cars could get.

70 AAR Cuda survivor side 2009

The 1970 Cuda AAR was a radical homologation and promotion of Chrysler's involvement in Trans Am racing. AAR is an acronym for Dan Gurney's 'All American Racer'. This car marked the first time a factory muscle car had larger rear tires than front, just like street racers. A spaghetti tangle of pipes reverse back through mufflers to create side exhausts that exit just in front of the rear tires. The big news is under the hood: a high revving reinforced small block 340 cubic inch engine is fed from a wild triple set of 2 barrel carburetors. Dodge called this the Six Pak. Plymouth referred to it as the 6 Barrel.

70 AAR Cuda survivor nose 2009.

The Chrysler T/A and Cuda AAR street homologation cars used 340 c.i. engines which exceeded the size of the race car engines. A new 1970 rule allowed Trans Am contestants to de-stroke street engines to fit under the Trans Am 305 c.i. limit. Even with the 'big' 340 the engine looks tiny underneath the massive 6 barrel air cleaner when dropped into an engine bay wide enough to house a Hemi. But looks are deceiving. That small engine was a blockbuster.

70 AAR Cuda survivor 340 6 barrel 2009.

In 1970, none of the Trans Am homologation factory street versions of the cars were under the 305 c.i. ceiling except for the amazing Boss 302 Mustang. The PLANET HOUSTON AMC website cites two known 304 c.i. factory street Mark Donohue Javelins, but they are an exception. Javelin homologation cars usually pack 360 or 390 cubes and were advertised with these engines. The street 1970 Camaro Z28 expanded its cubes into the extremely potent 350 LT1. The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am street engine choices started at 400 c.i. because Pontiac Motor Division abandoned factory plans to enter the Firebird in the race series.

70 AAR Cuda survivor spoiler 2009

Alas, this AAR was another one that 'got away', but there are photos. Speaking of Trans Am homologation, the Dodge Challenger T/A was named 'T/A' to tie into the Trans America races that it participated in. Chrysler was unable to use the Trans Am name because it had already been licensed to Pontiac Motor Division.

1969 Pontiac Trans Am

Pontiac was working on a tunnel ram 305 that never came to light. Consequently, Pontiac didn't field an official factory car for the Trans America races. Pontiac Firebirds competed in Trans Am races using Chevy small blocks. Racers relied on a technicality to enter these cars into the races. Canadian built Pontiacs used Chevy drivetrains. By entering a 'Canadian' Firebird in the races the Chevy engine was accepted as race legal.

Because Pontiac didn't have a Pontiac built engine for Trans Am competition they ended up simply dropping a 400 into their Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that was sold to the public. The first year of Trans Am production was limited and they are rarely encountered so it was a thrill to spot Kenneth L Kauffmann's original paint 1969 Trans Am Ram Air III at the Survivor show.

69 pontiac trans am survivor fr 2009

This Survivor Trans Am interior is in good condition. Note the optional wood shifter knob. The 160 mph speedometer reveals that the car has only 14,382 miles showing. The owner confirms the mileage as authentic.

69 pontiac trans am survivor interior 2009

This Trans Am's owner, Kenneth provided the PHS sourced invoice which gives detail about the car. The Firebird was ordered with the Trans Am option, 4 speed with optional wood knob, Soft Ray glass, fold down rear seat, and a radio. The Trans Am was shipped September 17, 1969 to Seifert Pontiac Inc in Denver, Colorado. See a story about Seifert in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website filed under COLORADO.

Readers may wonder why a 1969 model was still being built when new car introduction time had rolled around in fall, 1969. The new 1970 Camaro and Firebird models were delayed until Feb, 1970. Until the so called '1970 1/2' F bodies were released the 1969 models were continuously pumped out.

69 pontiac trans am survivor PHS doc 2009

Another ultimate musclecar had made it to the Survivor Show.

1970 Buick GSX

The 1970 Buick GSX was a midyear answer from Buick to the ever wilder muscle cars appearing in 1970. The top dog GSX Stage 1 lived in the rarefied air occupied by the elite musclecars of 1970. The GSX Stage 1 accelerated with Hemis, Cobra Jets and the LS6 Chevelle but handled better than all of them and rode smoother and quieter while doing it.

Bill Sales' Apollo White 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1 is scarred from several salty winters and hard racing action. Almost everything is original on his unrestored original low miles car. Unfortunately Bill's GSX is just a touch too rough to merit recognition as Survivor, but was certified in the "Limited" category. To see a story about Bill's GSX go to the 20 YEARS PLUS section of this website.

70 GSX bill sales survivor

Aside from contributing an interesting GSX to the OOCC site, Bill Sales radically reshaped my entire trip. After Bill had pointed out many interesting details on his GSX our conversation turned to the largest gathering of GSX cars ever. This GSX reunion was taking place in a couple of months at the Buick Performance Group Nationals. I was disappointed in the timing,

"I'll be back home by then."

"You can't miss this show! This many GSX cars are never going to gather in one spot ever again. They are coaxing guys to attend this show from all over the country. They are bringing in basket cases, barn finds- anything and everything. Regular guys who have never been to a car show before are being brought in. All the local groups are working their contacts to find every existing GSX!"

Thanks to Bill's persuasion, I decided to extend my trip. Not only did I see an incredible gathering of GSX cars, but the expansion of my plans created a new road trip that led to all sorts of interesting developments and detours.

Unseen 1977 Camaro Z/28

As I toured the Survivor Car field I heard tantalizing stories about some cars out there. One that I didn't get to see was a Red 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 with only 124 original miles. The owner, John Oehler bought the car from a South Carolina car dealer who kept the car in storage instead of selling it.

69 grand prix sj 4 spd hince survivor

1969 Grand Prix SJ 428-370 hp 4 speed

An interesting find was this Liberty Blue 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ 428-370 hp packing an incredibly rare factory 4 speed. The Grand Prix SJ was owned by Frank Hince since new. Frank stashed his GP with an odometer reading of 44,271 miles and was preparing to take it out to enjoy it again after several decades when he suddenly died in 2007.

Frank stored his rare car because a local motorcycle gang had taken an interest in his Grand Prix SJ. The 1969 Grand Prix sold 112,486 units. Out of that huge number of cars less than one percent came out of the factory with a four speed: 713 four speed cars were built. Frank ordered other performance items such as rally gauge cluster, power front disc brakes, Rally II wheels, G78x14 white stripe tires, variable ratio power steering, four speed, Safe-T-Track and auto level control.

Jimmy Smith of Brenham, Texas brought the rare GP all the way north to the Survivor show to pique some sales interest in the car. Jimmy was offering the car for sale through his company Jimmyz Classics. See a full story of this car in the ONE OWNER section in the CAR STORIES section of this website.

After the show I drove back to Milwaukee at normal speeds. It took more than twice as long to get back as it did to arrive.

A few days later I heard from Keith who co-owns the 1966 Dodge Charger and he was stoked to do a story on the car. Cora bought the Charger new and Keith assisted her with legal hassles regarding its storage which led to co ownership of the car. Keith houses maintains and trailers the Charger to car shows. A bit of back and forth and we managed to set up a day the next week when both Keith and Cora were free.

____________ DAY 13 _____________________________________________________

Milwaukee, WI/ Bloomington, Normal, IL

Normal, Illinois

I talked to Keith early in the morning before leaving to do the 1966 Dodge Charger story. It was a quiet day of traffic and I made it out to Normal, Illinois quickly.

I was greeted by Keith and his wife Edy in their immaculately maintained large home with multi car garage. A 1957 Plymouth Fury sat beside the 1966 Charger. Cora pulled into the driveway soon after I had started looking at the cars. She told the story of her fight with the dealership when she insisted on ordering a Hemi in her Charger. She related tales of late night street races in the Hemi Charger up on old Route 66 right outside of town.

The car wound up sitting because she is a very active lady with multiple jobs. She ended up using a truck most of the time for work and hence the Charger remained preserved in a time bubble.

See more photos and details of the 1966 Charger in the ONE OWNER section of the CAR STORIES on this website.

Hemi Charging Route 66

Keith and I took the Charger out to get some pictures in the fields outside town. On old Route 66 he jammed the gas down and the Charger blew out the weeds with a terrific howl. The Torqueflite kicked down brutally slamming us into our seats. We shot through yellow fields at 90, 100, 110... Keith let off the gas with the car still pulling hard coming up on 120 mph. The Hemi has tons of guts.

Keith was hungry when we brought the Charger back into it's stall. We switched cars to his 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo which is a nice performer with a 4 barrel 350 engine. That car took us around town in soft smooth plush quiet. A big contrast to the Charger. Keith bought the Monte Carlo from his Uncle John who purchased the car new for his wife, Ginnie. See a story on the Monte Carlo in the ONE FAMILY section of CAR STORIES on this website.

Quinn's Shell, Route 66

We gassed up the Monte Carlo after lunch. Keith exclusively fills up at a full serve gas station in town called Quinn's Shell located at 802 North Main Street, Bloomington, Illinois. Main Street of course, is actually old Route 66. Drive through any small town and Main Street is the old Mother Road, Route 66.

Bloomington is the 'twin city' to Normal. Normal was originally known as "North Bloomington". Quinn's was originally started in 1941 as Quinn's Texaco. It's the last station in the area still selling non ethanol and high octane gasoline making it Mecca for classic car guys. When Keith and I were there filling up the Monte Carlo a late 1960s full size Ford, and an early 1970s Polara pulled in for gas. Elmo Quinn, the current owner took over the station from his father and uncle in 1978.

Back at the house Cora and Keith filled in the narrative of the Charger while full tumblers of vodka kept being refilled. The 'afternoon drink' quickly segued into many drinks. I tried unsuccessfully to convince Cora that the story of her ONE OWNER 1974 Satellite was of interest to readers. After the 5th drink I didn't care anymore either.

Keith had some newspaper clippings framed from his baseball glory days when he was younger. He assured us that he was a dead ringer for Burt Reynolds when he was younger. Cora said,

"Maybe a little bit..."

CJ's, Bloomington, Illinois

We headed to CJ's Restaurant in Bloomington, Illinois in the Monte Carlo. The restaurant specializes in chicken fried steak and other Southern dishes. Discussion centered on the rarity of the Charger and the reasons for Cora and Keith both arriving at the decision to sell the car independent of each other but simultaneously. Both were getting on in years and Keith was dealing with diabetes now.

"It's a hassle having to check your blood sugar all the time. I'm supposed to do it a few times a day."

I hadn't seen him check his blood sugar since I'd arrived in the morning and asked him about it.

Keith admitted,

"I haven't been as a regular as I should be with it."

'When was the last time you checked it?"

"A few years ago."

I burst out laughing at his cavalier comment and soon he was guffawing along.

At 10:20 pm we left CJ's with the Monte Carlo burbling along the dark streets. I collected my Vette and bid goodnight to Keith and his wife Edy. At the Circle K in Normal, Illinois I gassed up and hit the highway north.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 22 May 2021 15:01 )