My Corvette Story: Kirk And Michelle Vandagriff’s 1969 Corvette

I acquired this Corvette back in the late 80’s. I first owned a chopped, yellow ‘69 Chevelle that I traded for this ‘69 Corvette. More on that Chevelle later.

When I first got the Corvette, it was candy green with orange and yellow stripes. It also had no engine. I put in a 350 engine with a gear-drive. I loved to drive this car around and it was basically an icon of my small town. Everyone knew me and this car.

The Vandagriffs are determined to have fun with their Shark.

About four years after that, I got married and had kids. The Corvette broke down and was relegated to the backyard, with the hope that one day, I would have the time and money to get it running again. For the next eight years, the car sat in the elements with the windows down. Cats lived in it and had their kittens and there were leaves and acorns from the huge tree it sat under.

Kirk and Michelle have brought the Corvette back to show-stopping style by working together to make the dream a reality.

In 2002, I went through a divorce and started dating a girl I had been friends with for over 20 years. While we were dating, she came to the house and saw my Corvette. She was very unhappy about it and said “You loved that car! What the hell happened?” I tried to explain about kids and money, but she was not having it. When we moved in together, she told me our first order of business was to get the Corvette running. I told her it was going to be expensive, and her words to me were, “I didn’t ask how much it was going to cost. I said we were going to get it running.”

Everyone is getting in on the fun in the Vandagriff's Corvette!

I tried to save some money by pulling the engine apart and having some of it rebuilt and putting it back together. When it still had issues, my wonderful girlfriend told me to quit screwing around. She decided to buy me a new engine, another 350 with a gear drive. She hates the sound of it, but said it was my car so I could have what I wanted. We got it reupholstered, added a stereo and repainted the car Victory Red.

I didn’t ask how much it was going to cost. I said we were going to get it running.- Michelle Vandagriff

I married this woman, of course! Over the years, she has helped me make my vision of this car come true. We put a Lambo kit on the doors and customized the hood by having it cut so the tunnel ram could stick out the top of it. I put side mirrors from the new Camaro and the louvers are from a BMW. We have continued to add things here and there as my vision for the car is always changing. Recently I put a line-lock in it, as well as nitrous. At some point, my wife named the car Vette-tastic.

For a recent car show at the Comi-Con, I thought it would be great to make up my car like a Rat Fink. My daughter Liz got involved and made me one out of paper-mache. It was a big hit. In 2013, some friends of mine were telling me that my old chopped, yellow Chevelle was up for sale and was sitting in a barn. Later that night, while my wife and I were lying in bed, I told her my old Chevelle was up for sale.  She asked, “Do you want it back?” and I said “yes, of course I do.”

The Corvette now houses a crate engine 350 with a gear drive and the show-modding tunnel ram.

The next day she called to speak to the person who was selling it and inquired on the price. They were asking $12k. My wife told him she did not want the motor and said she would only pay $5k. She told him to think about it and call her back. I was kind of mad at her because I REALLY wanted that car. About an hour later he called back and said “ok”. I couldn’t believe it. We went out to get the car the next day and the guy selling it tried to take the transmission as well. My wife told him it was only the motor they agreed upon. If he wanted the tranny he was going to take off another thousand. To my surprise, he agreed and we took the car home.

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My wife said, “Since you have your hot rod, this one is going to be mine.” She had a 454 put in it and upgraded the carb to a 750 double-pumper. It needed to have all the wiring and interior done and then she had it painted Fuschia and named it Chell-Shock. When we go to car shows people will say, “Hey, this looks like the old yellow car.“ We explain to them it is the same one, and then they usually say something about the green Corvette and we let them know this is also the same car. The best part is, now I have the girl of my dreams and both of my hot rods back!

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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