Air Bagged 1972 Chevy C3 Corvette named ‘LoVette’

- in Cars

“Restifying” this chrome-bumper C3 Corvette took a while, but the results were well worth the wait.

Time doesn’t stand still. Days and weeks morph into months and years all too quickly, until the kindergartener you were helping with her backpack is asking for your car keys. Car projects slip away with time, too. You tell yourself, “I’ll get to it next week” a few times, and like a six-pack with friends on a hot summer night, a couple of years evaporate before your eyes.

Air Bagged 1972 Chevy C3 Corvette named LoVette front end
The ’72 Corvette Steve Grybel “restified” was in danger of being lost to time and unexecuted intentions. It was purchased new in 1973 by Steve’s father, Dave, who got a good deal on what had been a demo car at a Detroit-area Chevy dealership. It was his daily driver for the first couple of years, shuttling him to work at sites that included Cadillac’s Clark Street assembly plant. After someone tried to steal it in 1975, Dave shifted its status to a hobby car, and by 1976, he had delved into a complete redo of the chrome-bumper Vette.

The project lasted until about 1979 and included pulling the body off the frame, rebuilding the engine, and sprinkling on the custom accouterments that were popular back then. Chrome accessories, braided steel line, and, of course, the requisite set of Cragar S/S “mag” wheels were also part of the makeover. By the time the Vette was finished, Dave was using it strictly for car shows and fair-weather cruising. With minor enhancements here and there, the car remained more or less in its disco-era attire until the late ’90s.

C3 Corvette named LoVette rear left
“By that time the enamel paint was starting to crack, and the car was definitely in need of modern updates,” says Steve. “I always wanted my dad to do something with it, but I now understand how raising a family, home renovations, and the other things that come up in life made it difficult to spend time and money on the Corvette.”

Things started to change in the summer of 1998, when Steve and a childhood friend decided it was finally time to get their hands dirty on the Vette. They were in eighth grade at the time, and although Dave gave his nod of approval to work on the car, he probably didn’t expect they’d strip the yellow paint off in a matter of hours—with razor blades.

1972 Chevy C3 Corvette aka LoVette early project stage
Custom-mixed yellow paint features a healthy infusion of pearl gold. Polished side pipes and Colorado Custom wheels provide an additional dose of visual luster.

Keeping it simple: Original small-block was punched out to 355 cubes and fitted with free-breathing top-end components. Custom air-cleaner box brings the exterior look to the engine compartment.

1972 Chevy C3 Corvette LoVette engine
Heavily made-over interior features a one-off fiberglass dash panel loaded with Dakota Digital instrumentation. Non-stock wheel is a Billet Specialties piece.

1972 Chevy C3 Corvette LoVette interior
He tinkered with the car here and there during that time, along with other automotive projects, but it wasn’t until he graduated from high school that his vision of how the Corvette should be remade came into focus.

“In 2006 I hooked up with the guys in the ‘Easy Street’ department at Air Lift Company [in Lansing, Michigan]. After telling them about the Corvette I was working on, they offered up an entire air-ride system for the car,” says Steve. “I was floored by the idea, but everybody at the time was saying it couldn’t be done on a C3. Nevertheless, it was the start of what would be a pretty crazy and consuming project.”

It’s not often you see the words “slammed” and “C3” employed in the same sentence. Steve and Dave Grybel’s ’72 manages the lowdown look thanks to a custom air suspension from Air Lift Company.

Air Bagged 1972 Chevy C3 Corvette named LoVette left side
e then contacted Paul Arft at PMA Motorsports in Lapeer, Michigan, who had worked on a couple of his buddies’ mini-trucks, to tackle the air-suspension installation. Two weeks later, Steve and Dave rolled up to the shop to find their Vette slammed on the ground.


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