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Marc Levi and his son, Max, sit in Levi's 1971 Corvette Stingray.
By Jeff Stearns | STAFF
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Sentimental value
Marc Levi’s classic cars remind him of childhood
By Kathleen Ostrander

Marc Levi remembers growing up in the Westchester subdivision and admiring a 1971 Corvette Roadster as it drove by.

So when a 1971 LT1 Corvette Stingray showed up on eBay six years ago, he had to have it. A top-to-bottom restoration was a lot of work, but he got help from Matt Milkint, who did the body work and paint.

"We took it all the way down to the fiberglass," Levi said. The car still has the original seats.

With all the work, Levi's little red Corvette is a beauty. It's even picked up a couple of trophies at area car shows. Levi enjoys working on cars, and he enjoys showing them off at shows.

"There's a lot of pride in the car once it's done. It's a major undertaking, and I do the work on the weekends," he said.

The 1971 Corvette was hailed by critics as more balanced in spite of a decrease in engine power to meet new emission standards. Even with the engine modification and the gas crisis, it sold in record numbers. The Corvette was named for a small, maneuverable warship, and owners will tell anyone who listens it's got chops on the straightaway and can hang on the corners.

Those who live their weekdays to work on cars on the weekends say it is all the better to put in that work if the car means something.

For Levi, the Corvette brought back bright moments from growing up, and his second car also has personal meaning.

"My very first car was a 1978 Trans Am. When I saw this one on eBay, I had to have it," Levi said. The 1979 Trans Am is another car that Levi and his friends have re-done from the frame out.

"Everything inside and out is like it just came from the factory," Levi said. Pontiac had high hopes for the Trans Am when it was introduced in 1971, but even they were surprised when sales of the Firebird — with its distinctive honeycomb wheels and throaty V8 — surpassed sales of the GTO.

The distinctive slant nose was re-tooled by Pontiac in 1977 and then tweaked again in 1979.

The 10th anniversary edition of the Trans Am had a special Firebird decal that extended off the hood and onto the front fenders.

Levi has jumped head-on into his new project: a complete restoration of a 1971 Trans Am.

The 1971 Trans Am he picked up in Quincy is stripped down to the frame, and Levi is doing the time-consuming task of fabricating the body panels. "It's going slow because I'm learning how to weld as I go," Levi said with a grin. He must tack the metal panels onto the frame before the door panels and fenders can be hung. "Quarter panels are really tough to get, so I've had to make them. The Vette was my dream car. This car is going to be the most work, but it's going to look great when it's done," he added.

The body will be white and the interior black. It will have the blue stripe down the hood. The factory engine has a 455 H.O. (high output) with a Ram Air package.

Right now the Trans Am is in pieces on the garage floor. Levi's sweat equity will transform it into another beautiful piece of automotive history.

Story published Friday, July 2, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 4 )

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