What’s it like to drive a 500hp 1968 CORVETTE?

A while back, my wife and I were at the DMV in Santa Monica renewing a license. As we came out (having survived), we walked across the parking lot and spotted this smokin’ hot ‘68 Baby Blue Chevrolet Corvette. Amazing color of an amazing year. I eagerly took a shot of it, and then the universe instantly went into gear —which is why it’s this week’s Ride of the Week.

A few days later, I was sitting on my deck here in the ‘Bu and heard this rumble coming up the street. I stood up and again spotted this cool Vette crusin’ up the street, only to park right next to my house. Instantly I knew it was time for another ride and thanked to the universe lining things up for me. So, I made my approach.

Meet Neil Ims, a self-employed inventor and business owner (Juicer) with a passion for muscle cars. In this case, a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark. As I stepped up and started asking questions, Neil was immediately excited to tell me things about the car and set a time to go for a spin. A few 24 hours later we were driving.

Neil bought the car in 1983 from a dude in Pasadena. He got his hands on it and started to tinker, creating a beast with a built 427CID,  500hp/550lbs, Weiand Intake, Holly hp 750, Headman Ceramic Headers, four-speed Borg Warner Super T10, Tom’s 4:11 RR end and a Stage 3 Suspension. As we cruised up PCH, I yelled over the rumble, “Why this car?”

 His response was just as loud… “Just look at it! It is THE quintessential ‘Muscle Car!’ It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture of this car,” he confirmed.  “I always liked either the first year or last year of the body style.” But when he bought it, the ‘68 corvette was clean with no flares behind the front and rear wheels.  It had an incredibly clean and uncluttered interior, but what he loved the most was the torque from the Big Block. The best part of the car, according to Neil, is driving it.

“I usually pick a weekday and head up the coast out of Malibu to County Line and the rock at Point Magu,” he screams over the wind noise and engine crackling. “I get a chance to open it up and take a few fast bends here and there. But I drove back from Palm Springs one time with no gas gauge and ran out of gas 200 yards from my driveway. Had just enough speed to coast up the driveway and right into its parking spot — empty.”

Like most of us, Neil loves driving around in Malibu (everything but the traffic), but on the day we drove and did this photoset, the highway was as clear as a bell and I became sure that it was because the car was so cool. We got several thumbs up.

But for me, the best part of the car was the little doggie bed that Neil created for his tiny 6-lb. Chihuahua. The car really wasn’t complete until this tiny pup jumped into my lap for the ride. Made my day, as if driving in a classic sculpt like this wasn’t enough. But I love dog people and that said a lot about Neil. You can check out out our actual drive on my Vlog show on YouTube or just dream of doing it yourself. Yes, our town is full of cool cars, but there’s only one baby blue Vette. Neil plans to keep it that way. 

Want to be featured as Fireball’s Ride of the Week? Shoot an email to askfireball@fireballtim.com

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