1969 Corvette ZL-1 Roars to Life in a Private Museum

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The same guy who started this 1969 Corvette for the first time fires it up 48 years later.

This 1969 Corvette ZL-1 is one of just two Chevrolet sports cars built with the all-aluminum, 427-cubic inch big block V8 and in addition to being one of the rarest, this is also one of the most valuable Corvettes in the world. In the video above from the YouTube channel of Jeff Wagner, the same man who started this very ZL-1 at the St. Louis plant back in September of 1969 fires it up for the camera and for us all to enjoy.

Meet Ralph Montileone

Back in 1969, Ralph Montileone worked at the St. Louis Assembly Plant where the Chevrolet Corvette was built. In September of that year, a bright yellow C3 rolled down the assembly line, but unlike the other cars, this Chevy sports car didn’t get one of the engines off of the rack. Instead, this car was wheeled away from the line without an engine to a separate area where a team of mechanics waited with a very special crate.

1969 Corvette ZL1 Engine

In that crate was an all-aluminum, 427-cubic inch big block V8 – the most powerful engine installed at the factory during the classic era of the Corvette. Once the engine was installed and everything was hooked up, someone had to climb into the hot car to fire it up and that someone was Ralph Montileone. He was just 18 years old and his job was to start hot cars in the hot factory, so while the job sounds great today, it was not a sought-after position back then.

In any case, Montileone was the first person to ever sit in and start this bright yellow 1969 Corvette ZL-1 and earlier this year, he got to fire up the 427-powered sports car once again, almost 49 years after he brought the car to life for the first time.

ZL-1 Roars to Life

The video above begins with Montileone firing up the yellow 1969 Corvette ZL-1 inside of the Roger’s Corvette Center in Florida. The first two minutes of the video consist of Montileone sitting in the C3, gently revving the engine as the cameraman moves around the perimeter of the chained-off area.

Ralph in the Corvette ZL1

The 427 sounds incredible, but around the 1:40 mark of the video, the engine has warmed up enough to come off of fast idle, allowing us to hear the lope of the stock camshaft in the Corvette ZL-1.

As the video continues, the cameraman keeps moving around the car as different guys take turns sitting in the 427-powerred ZL-1 and revving an engine – getting their chance to experience one of the most valuable Corvettes in the world.

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Patrick Rall is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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