The Incredible “See-Thru” L88 Rocks the Corvette World in St. Charles
by Bill Stephens
So here I am at the 40th Annual Bloomington Gold Corvettes USA expo in St. Charles, IL. There’s an all-Corvette Mecum Auction underway under a big white tent here at the Pheasant Run Resort just off the 17th fairway and since the auction isn’t televised, I can just loaf. I’m hanging with one of my colleagues from the Velocity Channel crew which televises most of the other Mecum Auctions during the year, John Kraman, who is, in my opinion, the best expert collector car analyst in the TV business.
I decide to take a stroll over to the Great Hall (my tenth or eleventh visit since I arrived on Wednesday) to marvel once again at the phenomenal collection of outrageously important Corvettes placed on display when I bump into Kevin Mackay, an accomplished Corvette restorer from Valley Stream, NY. I was first introduced to Kevin on Wednesday night but we are fast becoming good friends thanks to our mutual love and appreciation for the Corvette.
Kevin is a truly esteemed member of the Corvette community; a life-long Corvette enthusiast who turned that enthusiasm into one of the most successful and respected Corvette restoration shops in the country, Corvette Repair. He is so strongly admired and acknowledged as a true gatekeeper of the Corvette heritage that this year he was inducted into Bloomington Gold’s Great Hall, an honor bestowed annually to ten individuals or entities which have made exceptional contributions to the Corvette ‘s history and legacy.
As we discuss all manner of Corvette topics, Kevin suddenly asks me if I’ve seen his “See-Thru” L88 Corvette yet. I admit I had heard about it but hadn’t been over to the Chubb Insurance display on the Bloomington Gold midway to see it. He invites me to climb into his golf cart and make the short trip to go take a look.
When we get there, a gathering of showgoers is surrounding the original 1969 L88 Corvette in the Chubb tent, or should I say, a bodiless 1969 L88 Corvette, having been relieved of all its exterior body panels such as the hood, fenders, doors, quarter-panels, and rear deck. Some onlookers are just gazing at the Corvette which is not wearing any clothes; others are snapping pictures. It’s not something you see every day.
You can see in plain view the upper superstructure of the Corvette, identified in slang terms as the “birdcage”. There are see-through glass floors, no inner door panels, and nothing to conceal the fuel tank, complete with original tank sticker—the equivalent of the Corvette’s birth certificate—attached in its correct location. The interior is complete and functional, with all switches, instruments, and various accessories fully operational. How long it took to create this transparent attraction is a question even Kevin can’t answer.
But why would anyone take an original, numbers-matching, third-generation 1969 L88 Corvette, the absolute epitome of the Corvette’s high-performance family tree, and deconstruct it for all the world to see?
“Two reasons,” says Kevin. “First, I wanted to set this L88 apart from every other L88 in existence. Second, I wanted to use it to promote Corvette Repair in a unique way that would showcase the quality of the work we do.”
Mission accomplished on both counts.
What I find most fascinating is that the See-Thru L88 is street-legal, fully registered, insured and can be driven (albeit not on a daily basis). “It runs great,” beams Kevin. “Mechanically, it’s as sound as any L88 out there.”
“One other benefit the See-Thru L88 provides is how anyone restoring a 1969 L88 can see where a lot of the parts and wiring go that would be hidden in a fully assembled car,” says the 56-year-old craftsman. “Restorers look at this and say, ‘Oh, that’s where that piece is attached’ or ‘I can see where those wires are supposed to snake through the chassis’ so in a way, it’s a teaching aid, too.”
Kevin has other See-Thru Corvette projects using other Vette generations in the pipeline, but for now, his 1969 L88 will continue to thrill and delight Corvette fans everywhere he parks it on display. He still has all the parts needed to reassemble the See-Thru ’69 back to original condition, and will probably get around to that in the near future.
All I can say is, “Now I’ve seen everything.” Literally.
The next televised Mecum Auction is coming up on July 20-21in Des Moines, Iowa. There will be no see-thru Corvettes or any other bare chassis Muscle Cars going up for bids. Complete cars only. Watch live coverage both days on Velocity.
You can follow Bill Stephens on Twitter @ultgarageBill