Chip’s Choice 2020 Featured Bloomington Gold Benchmark Corvettes

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Chip’s Choice 2020 featured Bloomington Gold Benchmark Corvettes at the annual Corvettes at Carlisle.  These Vettes are 95% unrestored and as-new condition collector cars.

Corvettes at Carlisle is a must-see event for every Corvette owner.  It is held each year at the Carlisle Fairgrounds in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  This is the world’s largest Corvette event.  Although the COVID-19 had its effects on the event, there was still plenty to do and see.  One of the events held each year is the Chip’s Choice.

Chip’s Choice was started by Chip Miller, co-founder Carlisle Events, who passed away in 2004 from a rare disease called Amyloidosis.  Since his passing, his son, Lance Miller, has taken charge of the special display in Building-T. (There was a fundraiser for the Chip Miller Amyloidosis Foundation where a Corvette was won. You can read about it here.)

The Chip’s Choice display this year at Corvettes at Carlisle featured the “Benchmark – the Best of Bloomington Gold.”

Guy Larsen, owner of Bloomington Gold and Bill Locke hand-picked ten cars for this special display.  Each of these Corvette has been awarded Bloomington’s highest honor – the exclusive Benchmark Award.

So, what is a Bloomington Gold Benchmark Award?

The Benchmark Award is exclusively for unrestored cars that have been judged to be within 95% of their as-new condition. They are perfect examples of correctness and condition.  Restorers often use these Vettes as a restoration guide. Fewer than twenty or so Corvettes each year achieve this coveted award. You can learn more about it on the Bloomington Gold website by CLICKING HERE.

Kris Pittack shared with us some photos of these rare collector Corvettes. Text about the cars is courtesy of Corvettes at Carlisle 2020.

1961 283/270 HP Owned by John Keane
1961 283/270 HP Owned by John Keane

John became the second owner of this 1960 Corvette in August 1961. He enjoyed it on drives to the beach, the tracks, and the mountains. One cold wintry Christmas Eve, even though it was dressed with studded snow tires, it had to be rescued by a local fire department. After 44 years he decided it was time for a restoration. It has over 98% of its original parts, however, it took some dedicated prep work to bring it back to its present status.

Honors include Bloomington Gold SURVIVOR, Gold, and Benchmark. NCRS Duntov Mark of Excellence and 5-Star Bowtie (One of four C1’s to receive both awards.) MCACN (Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals) Vintage Certified to the level of “Legend”.

1966 427/425 HP L72 owned by Linda Strohm-Dunlap
1966 427/425 HP L72 owned by Linda Strohm-Dunlap

Linda’s late husband, Carl Strohm, purchased this original, unrestored 1966 Corvette in 1980 from its original owner.

In 1991, the car was displayed at the Bloomington Gold Special Collection, where it also received Gold Certification, SURVIVOR, and Benchmark awards. In 2016, it returned to Bloomington Gold for the 1966-2016 50th Anniversary display. Additional awards include the NCRS Duntov Mark of Excellence and 5-Star Bowtie.

1967 owned by Larry Sachs 427/400 HP L68
1967 owned by Larry Sachs 427/400 HP L68

This Corvette is optioned with speedminder, shoulder harness, transistor ignition, factory side exhaust and a 370 rear axle. The car was purchased in November 1966 by Thomas Bleauskas. After a long ownership, Bleauskas sold the car to the late Dana Pope, a very well known, astute, respected local Corvette enthusiast. After a few years, Pope sold the car to Peter Borchert. During Peter’s ownership from the late 90s he bravely and neatly removed the original gas tank sticker. After a few years of ownership, Borchert sold the car to its current owner 15 years ago. The car showed 31,000 original miles and has only been driven 4,000 miles since then.

The car received numerous NCRS Top Flight awards and the Bloomington Gold Benchmark Award.

1968 Corvette 327/350 HP L79 owned by Thomas Elias Sugar
1968 Corvette 327/350 HP L79 owned by Thomas Elias Sugar

This 1968 Corvette was delivered to Eugene Rambler on July 31st, 1968. Rally Red with black leather interior, it is powered by the venerable 327/350 HP L79 through the M20 4-speed transmission, 3.55 Positraction Rear Axle, and Off-road Exhaust. Notably optioned, including rear window defroster, speed warning indicator and full transistor ignition, and wrestled (Thomas bought the car in 15 seconds!) from the personal collection of Kevin Mackay, this four owner, highly original all lacquer coupe’s time capsule condition belies its 55,000 northeast miles. The Corvette still rides on OEM PT6 F70-15 Goodyear red striped tires and sports a set of 1968-only PO1 full wheel covers. During the past year, and within a whirlwind three month span, (which has to be a record) the Corvette received an NCRS Top Flight, the MCACN Concours Gold and Triple Diamond, and Bloomington SURVIVOR, Gold Certificate and Benchmark awards.

1971 Corvette 454/425 HP LS6 owned by Linda Strohm-Dunlap
1971 Corvette 454/425 HP LS6 owned by Linda Strohm-Dunlap

Linda and her late husband Carl purchased this Corvette in 1973. Despite the gas price war and big block Corvettes depreciating, he had to have this car as soon as he heard the reverberating exhaust. Carl knew the LS6 engine was very special but didn’t really know how rare. (Only 188 from a total production of 21,801.)

In 2000 the Corvette was invited to the Bloomington Gold Special Collection, where it received Gold Certification, SURVIVOR and the Benchmark awards. The Corvette also earned NCRS Duntov Mark of Excellence and 5-Star Bowtie awards. The LS6 was featured on the cover of the Vette Vues Fact Book 1968-72 Corvettes and in Corvette, The Legend Lives On 1968-86.

1972 Corvette 350/200 HP L48 owned by Christian and Cynthia Meyer
1972 Corvette 350/200 HP L48 owned by Christian and Cynthia Meyer

The original owner (Anne) met Elliott Marantette “Pete” Estes, then president of the Chevrolet division of GM, during a reception in 1971. Anne told Mr. Estes of her dream to someday own a Corvette. The following week, a loaner Corvette appeared at Anne’s home with instructions to enjoy it for a month, courtesy of Mr. Estes. When Anne returned the loaner Corvette, she indicated her interest in ordering a new Corvette, but only if it was painted black at the factory. The story is unclear as to how Mr. Estes was involved in the process of procuring the only documented factory black Corvette in 1972, but Anne got her wish.

1972 350/200 HP L48 owned by Steve and Wendy Burns
1972 350/200 HP L48 owned by Steve and Wendy Burns

This 1972 Corvette was delivered new at Lloyd Bridges Chevrolet in Chelsea, Michigan on July 28th, 1972 finished in Targa blue paint, black vinyl interior, and a black top. Power comes from the base L48 engine backed by the M20 4-speed transmission. Options include a vinyl hardtop, power brakes, AM/FM stereo, and tilt/telescopic steering column.

This 5-owner car remains largely unrestored and shows just over 31,000 miles. It retains nearly all of its original paint, interior, top, and chassis components.

To date, the car has claimed some of the top awards in the Corvette hobby. After a Bloomington Survivor award in 1992, it claimed Survivor, Gold, and Benchmark honors in 2018 and participated

1990 Corvette ZR1 S/N 00019 owned by Rick Hendrick
1990 Corvette ZR1 S/N 00019 owned by Rick Hendrick

1978 marked the first year for the Chevrolet Corvette to pace the Indianapolis 500. Chevrolet announced they were going to build only 500 Pace car replicas. Rumors of this limited production and media attention resulted in many buyers paying above list price. Chevrolet revised production numbers to 6502. This allowed one for every dealer in the U.S. and Canada and a group of track cars.

Pace Car #2487 was one of only 220 four-speed cars and was equipped with the higher horsepower L82 engine. The car was sold new at Burns Chevrolet in Idaho and has under 1900 original miles.

The car has been awarded Bloomington Gold Benchmark, NCRS 5 Star Bowtie, and MCACN Triple Diamond.

1978 Corvette Pace Car owned by David Goss
1978 Corvette Pace Car owned by David Goss

The ZR-1 Corvette was a performance icon of the ’90s, with the high-tech muscle to back up its supercar reputation. Despite its low build volume – a total of 6,939 cars were produced between 1990 and 1995 – this is the car that helped reestablish the Corvette as a legitimate world-class performance car. It’s a distinction the Corvette hasn’t relinquished since.

This 1990 ZR-1 is car #19 built and was delivered personally to Rick Hendrick by Jim Perkins at the Bowling Green assembly plant. This historic Corvette was bestowed with Bloomington Gold 7 Generations honors as well as being a 2012 Great Hall Inductee. The ZR-1 looks like a Corvette. There’s that unmistakable shape but with a notable difference – both in styling and engineering.

The ZR-1 featured a three-inch wider rear track, necessitated by its oversize 315/35-17 rear tires. The change required new doors, as well as a new rear fascia that took a convex shape and included new rectangular tail lamps to distinguish it from lesser Corvettes. Under the hood is what really sets the ZR-1 apart. Unique to the ZR-1 is the LT5 engine developed jointly with Lotus and built by Mercury Marine. This 5.7-liter aluminum, 32-valve V8 was ahead of its time and produced an impressive 375 horsepower in 1990 famously assigning the moniker “King of the Hill” to the ZR-1 Corvette. The ZR-1 quickly became the fastest production Corvette GM had ever built in the model’s history reaching a top speed of 180 mph and today is a highly coveted member of the Corvette community.

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