Every so often (as recently as our March 2013 issue, in fact), we bring you a shark that shows that love for Corvettes isn’t found exclusively in the USA. This time, we’ve got another well-traveled and world-traveling C3, one you can view up-close at the National Corvette Museum through August.
You’d smile, too, if you had three top-quality C3s in your garage, and another one on disp
Sven-Erik Mattsson had bought Corvettes before, the first one being a small-block– powered 1969 Stingray that he located back in 1988 and still owns. This time, instead of searching through ads in print, Mattsson found his Vette the way many people around the world do these days—through an online ad.
The car—a used, original 1968 convertible in need of some work—had been listed for sale by a dealer in Pennsylvania. Mattsson bought the ailing C3, shipped it home to Sweden, and set about modernizing the drivetrain. “I bought a used ’00 Camaro engine and six-speed transmission in Sweden,” he recalls. “But that engine had piston slap, and the block was cracked, so I swapped it for a new LS1 crate engine.”
Mattsson came out way ahead on the swap, as that LS1 was technologically light-years ahead of the first-generation small-block the ’68 was built with. Items such as fuel injection, aluminum cylinder heads, and an aluminum- alloy block, which were all Corvette exotica during the ’60s, were included as standard on the new-in-’97 Gen III LS engine.
But that modern powerplant wasn’t the only new-tech item that went on during the four-year, body-off-frame restoration. A set of C6 Z06 brake discs with Brembo calipers replaced the stock stoppers, while QA1 coilovers and Falken-shod Zito modular aluminum wheels improved the ride and handling.
Well-traveled, in any language: Sven-Erik Mattsson’s LS-powered ’68 Corvette.
The body, frame, and interior all received attention during the project, which Mattsson found to be an easy one. “I did most of the restoration by myself—bodywork, paint, interior, welding, polishing stainless steel, and the convertible top,” he says.
And believe it or not, there was no problem obtaining what he needed. “It’s easy to get parts,” he says. “I order online from the USA—it’s much cheaper than buying in Sweden.”
What was it like to drive, once it was all done? “It drives great, like a new car. It’s my dream car.”
Once completed, the C3 and its owner took in plenty of shows, road tours, and other events. “Corvette is a popular car in Sweden, with about 5,500 to 6,000 in the country,” Mattsson says. “Club Corvette Sweden [www.clubcorvette.se] is a big club, with 2,500-2,600 members, and it holds lots of events.
“American cars in general are popular in Sweden, with events, cruising, and car shows,” he continues. “The Power Big Meet [www.powerbigmeet.com] is the biggest one, with over 10,000 cars and lots of spectators.”
After those events, Mattsson’s ’68 was ready to see the world—and to let him “see the USA in his Chevrolet,” as those old ads went. That’s where the National Corvette Museum (of which he is a member) enters the picture.
Betty Hardison, who is the museum’s contact for display cars, says Mattsson contacted her via the NCM website. “I asked him to send an e-mail with some info and pictures of his Corvette,” she says.
Except for the billet steering wheel (which was a Goodguys swap-meet find), aftermarket so
Plenty of custom hardware—and chrome—flanks the 3.70-geared Positraction rear on Mattsson’
C6 Z06 discs with Brembo calipers add the right combination of stopping power and style to
Mattsson not only sent along pictures, he included some of his planned Stateside itinerary as well. “He said he was having the car shipped to New York, and that he would attend the Woodward Dream Cruise, Corvettes at Carlisle, and then would like to bring it to the Museum for a year,” Hardison adds. “He would then return in August 2013 to pick it up.”
NCM officials agreed to the plan, and last summer, Mattsson brought his shark to Bowling Green. After some post-tour detailing, it was ready for display in the museum’s collection, where it will be available to dazzle your eyes—and give some of you C3 owners an idea or two—until Mattsson returns in September to pick up the car and return it to Sweden.
Here’s where you’ll find Mattsson’s C3—for the next few months, anyway: on display at the
In the meantime, Mattsson has plenty to do before he returns to Kentucky. “I have three Corvette projects in my garage,” he says. “One is my friend’s ’65 Sting Ray convertible with a 598 Shafiroff engine and a Tremec five-speed. [There’s also] a ’69 Stingray convertible that will be a ZL1 clone and an ’82 Collector Edition.”
Does he have anything else in mind for this ’68, once he gets it home to Sweden? “My next step is to give it more power,” he says, “either with a supercharger on this engine, or with an LS9.”
What else would you expect from an all-world Corvette like this one?
||Sven-Erik Mattsson; Tragardstigen, Sweden
||Stock LS1 aluminum
||Stock LS1 aluminum
||Stock 1.7 ratio
||Stock hydraulic roller (0.500-/0.500-in lift, 198-/209-deg duration)
||Stock hypereutectic aluminum
||Stock nodular iron
||Stock powdered-metal steel
||Stock LS1 electronic
||Stock LS1 coil-on-plug
||Melrose 17⁄8-in headers with 2½-in pipes
||Tremec T-56 six-speed manual with Hurst shifter
||Stock with Positraction and 3.70:1 gears
||Custom stainless-steel upper/lower control arms with QA1 coilovers and Flaming River steering rack (front); custom trailing arms with QA1 coilovers (rear)
||C6 Z06 discs, Brembo calipers
||Zito Titan five-spoke modular aluminum; 18x8.5-in (front), 19x9.5-in (rear)
||Falken FK452; 245/40R18 (front), 275/45R19 (rear)