Nino’s Corvette

One of the coolest and possibly most overlooked feature of any Corvette, is the story behind it. Corvettes are fun and exciting, but when you add the emotions and personal touch of a story it transforms into something really special.

Through the grape vine we heard about a 1-owner 1967 Corvette being offered for sale in an upcoming estate sale. Wow, a 1-owner 1967 Corvette? Here locally? What are the odds!? Most Corvette enthusiasts know that 1967 is the year to have. It was the last year for the C2 generation and its legendary styling and Corvette’s performance had been at its peak. A friend of ours who was close with the auction company invited us to view the car a few weeks prior to the sale. We grabbed our flash lights and headed to where the car was being housed. There she was, a 1967 Corvette convertible, white with a white top and black interior. The car was dirty, inside and out. It looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned in years. Our initial inspection left much to be desired. The paint was dirty and didn’t have much shine. The interior was also dirty and had that musty old smell. A quick glance underneath unveiled a replacement fuel tank. We feared where the tank sticker went. The frame and chassis looked solid, but had its fair share of surface rust. We were a little disappointed as the car wasn’t as nice as we hoped it would be. Still, we stayed optimistic and hoped to be able to buy the car cheap enough where we could fix it and sell it.

A few weeks later was the Anthony Capozzi, JR. estate auction. Steve and I grabbed a company check, our truck and trailer and headed 40 minutes south to Gorham, NY. The estate auction was held at Nino’s Antiques, right on Main St. It was a cold and rainy Saturday and sitting outside was the 1967 Corvette. We got there early to register and there were already a few people looking at the Corvette, opening the doors and hood, letting rain get inside the car which made us cringe. Next to the car, on a table, was the painted hard top and a few other original parts. We had a few hours to kill before the car was scheduled to be auctioned off so we left to get breakfast in Penn Yan. Over breakfast we talked about the car and what we felt was our maximum bid. The goal was to buy the car, fix it up and sell it for a profit. I made a quick call to Howard Van Bortel and after a few minutes of discussion I was told to do 1 thing, come home with the car.

We got back to the auction site about 10 minutes before the Corvette was scheduled to go through. At this point the auction was quite crowded, a much different scene than earlier. A voice over the loud speaker said it was time for the 1967 Corvette sale and everyone gathered around the car. The auctioneer then announced that the original fuel tank with the tank sticker would go with the car as well as the original owner’s letter from Chevrolet with the owner’s card and patch. Steve and I looked at each other with excitement and couldn’t wait to bring this car home. Then the bidding started. Hoping that we could buy this car for a bargain, I chose to let everyone know that we were going to win this auction by being aggressive and quickly raising my bid card at every price increment. It started with 4 bidders, then quickly dropped to 3, then 2 and then 1. Nino’s Corvette was ours! The spectators cheered and clapped. This was a very exciting moment for the small town.

After a few minutes of feeling in the clouds, we spoke with Anthony’s (Nino’s) family. They were very appreciative of us and felt at rest knowing that we would properly handle the car going forward. We then paid for the car and received the keys, original gas tank, owner’s letter and a bonus, the dealer’s order copy. We set the hard top on the car and attempted to start the car to drive it up onto our trailer. The battery was dead. Fortunately, there was someone at the auction that had a jump box in his truck and helped us jump start the Corvette. After getting the engine started, we drove the Corvette up into our trailer and strapped it down. What a cool feeling! It’s a dream come true to buy a 1-owner 1967 Corvette with the tank sticker, owner’s letter and dealer’s order copy! As soon as we got back to the dealership, we eagerly unloaded the car and washed off the first layer of dirt and rain.

“Oh my god” was likely one of the first things I said after we washed the car and looked at it under the lights in our Corvette showroom. The paint, that we felt left much to be desired, was everything you’d want it to be, original. The color red that we saw behind the paint chips was the factory primer, not a color that the car once was. We then inspected the car a little more carefully. The engine, carburetor, distributor, alternator, water pump, radiator, were all correct and original. A few friends of ours from the WNY NCRS chapter stopped to look at the car. They confirmed our beliefs and highly recommended we looked into NCRS Bowtie and Bloomington Gold Survivor judging. We then became NCRS members and prepared ourselves (and the car).

A few days after we bought the car the president of the auction company stopped by to thank us and dropped off a folder of old paperwork that he forgot to give us. I quickly opened the folder to see what was in it. We were already ecstatic to have the original tank with tank sticker, the owner’s letter, and the dealer’s order copy. What else could there possibly be? To our great surprise we received a plethora of documents. The original dealer’s sales worksheet, the original auto loan agreement, the auto loan coupon book, the original check used to pay for the car, a stack of receipts for repairs and maintenance since day 1, the original registration and many others from years after, many years of insurance ID cards and more. Not only did we purchase an original 1-owner 1967 Corvette, but one of the highest documented examples in existence! Unbelievable!

Over the winter we took our time carefully cleaning, researching and preserving the car. We spent an entire week reading the NCRS 1967 Judging Guide and comparing it to our car. We found very few items that were not original. In 1973, Anthony’s brother, David, convinced him to install a side exit exhaust. Fortunately, the original back panel, tail pipes and side rocker panels came with the car. To properly display the car in its most original form we opted to install a replica back exit exhaust with the original tips and body panels. We also installed the original fuel tank with the tank sticker still attached. When spring arrived we were ready for judging.

In May, 2017, we attended the WNY NCRS chapter meet and brought Nino’s Corvette to be judged. The car was a tremendous hit. Several members had never laid eyes on an original 1967 Corvette. Today there are far more restored examples than originals. Judging was completed by mid-afternoon and then it was time for awards. Our car scored a 91.6%, or Second Flight, in flight judging. The chapter’s Judging Chairperson mentioned this was the chapter’s highest scoring unrestored 1967 Corvette in their existence. This gave us a good idea on how the car would fare come Bloomington Gold in June.

Before we knew it, it was June and time for Bloomington Gold. We arrived early on Wednesday to register, place our car in the reserved garage space and park our trailer. Vendors were still arriving and setting up but the Gold Collection cars were on display so we checked out some of the rarest 1967 Corvettes in existence. We thought we had a rare Corvette, but there is nothing that compares to an old L88 racer! Thursday was simply a set-up and display day so we were able to wander around and enjoy the day. Friday was Certification judging. It rained hard, all day, non-stop. We were soaked from head to toe; I rang my socks out multiple times throughout the day. I felt sorry for the judges, we all were soaked but these guys had to lay on the ground. Towards the end of the day the rain finally cleared up and everyone took the opportunity to remove the water from their interiors. We saw people using cups to scoop water out. Thankfully our ’67 was pretty well sealed and a towel was all that was needed to remove the water from the passenger floor. Saturday was a totally different scene. It was mid-70 degrees and sunny, absolutely perfect. Survivor judging took place in the morning, the award ceremony at 3 pm. We lined up our cars for the award ceremony and 1 by 1 we were called forward and presented with awards. There were several survivor candidates that left with only a participation award. We were biting our nails in hopes that we didn’t put forth a tremendous effort into a participation award. We were called forward and received both Bloomington Gold Silver Certification and Survivor Silver awards! We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get home to display our awards with the car. To achieve Certification Silver and Survivor Silver really shows how well preserved this car is.

Much of the preservation is due to the efforts of the original owner, Anthony C. Capozzi, JR., 3/17/1940 – 4/26/2016, of Gorham, NY. Anthony came from a hard working family. Anthony helped his father with many of the family owned businesses, including a grocery store, a restaurant and an antique shop. Anthony dropped out of school to serve in the Army where he received his GED and was deployed to Germany in the early 60’s. After serving his country, Anthony’s love for cars grew, especially the iconic Corvette, America’s Sports Car. In late 1966, Anthony decided it was time to purchase his very own Corvette and ordered it through Mac Merritt Chevrolet in his hometown, Geneva, NY. Not having a wife or children, Anthony took care of his Corvette as if it were his child. In 1974, Anthony and his father partnered in transforming the family restaurant into Nino’s Antiques. As the business grew, Anthony spent less time driving his Corvette. The car was kept inside the family’s finished barn and very rarely brought outside. In later years Anthony developed a heart condition which ultimately took his life. Nino’s Antiques was owned and operated by Anthony for 42 years. Anthony practiced great care in preserving and documenting his Corvette. Thanks to David Helfer (brother) and the Capozzi family, Nino’s Corvette will continue to be well cared for.


2,407 total views, 1 views today