Rides from the Readers: 1974 Chevrolet Corvette

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1974 Chevrolet Corvette cliff
Robert Besdesky

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.

Today’s featured vehicle is a 1974 Chevrolet Corvette. You can easily spot Vettes from this year thanks to their two-piece bumpers: in addition to their sloping profiles (compared to the Kamm-tailed ’73 cars), the fiberglass rear fascia was constructed in two panels joined in the middle in a vertical seam. Beneath the skin, the 1974 model year was notable as the last opportunity for buyers to spec the 454 big-block and the final year for leaded gas. All models after 1974 also received catalytic converters.

This particular Corvette belongs to Robert Besdesky, who bought the car new at the age of 19. In doing so he fulfilled a five-year-old dream of owning a Vette, and drove it year-round for three years. The metallic brown coupe even wore a set of studded tires in the winter, and Besdesky recalls that, “as long as she had a full tank of gas, she could plow through the deepest snow.”

In the later ’70s the well-traveled Vette relinquished its daily driving duties to a 1986 Pontiac Firebird, and from 1989 to 2005, went into retirement in Besdesky’s aunt’s garage. After a light internal mechanical refresh—tires, brakes, radiator, suspension—Besdesky drove the Vette cross-country with no issues. Then, near disaster: A tree fell across Besdesky’s garage and, though the Toyota parked next to it took the brunt of the damage, the Vette suffered a cracked windshield and battered body panels. Besdesky decided to give his beloved coupe a full makeover, and after a trip to the body shop, he sent the ’74 to Burbank, California, and. There, Dick Guldstrand, or “Mr. Corvette,” rebuilt the Quadrajet and tuned the engine. Besdesky’s joy at his revitalized Corvette was matched by his experience with the Corvette maestro himself: “He was a wonderful guy, and I was lucky to have him work on my car, spend time with him, and get to know him.”

“Forty-five years later,” Besdesky writes, that 1974 dark brown metallic Stingray coupe has been with me for my entire adult life, and she remains an old friend.”

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