My 1971 Corvette

Question:

I own a 1971 454 Big block Corvette Stingray, that I have had since high
school. The car has 51,000 original miles on it. I had the engine
completely redone by professionals in mississauga, I have had the
exhaust just recently done, and now I need to have the brakes redone,
the interior carpet and detailing, possibly seats recovered, and the
other details like, rechroming of bumpers, plus a new paint job is
required. There are some parts that I require, as in my younger days I
had the headers and side pipes on the car, therefore to fit the side
pipes, I had to take off the long aluminium pieces under the doors,
which I do not have, and I also need the left and right, I guess you
would call them the decorative cross-hatched vents that are just in
front of the doors, on the front fenders. I also need a new windshield,
and would like to replace the rubber on the T-roofs and the door seals.
I also need the left and right mirrors. I am on a limited budget and I
am sad to say that I got taken by a mechanic/body shop fellow in
Brampton, who basically did nothing for the 3500.00 I gave him,
therefore I am very leery of people I do not know. If you can help me or
send me in the right direction to someone that sells parts for
Corvettes, I would appreciate this very much. I live in Aurora, so you
have my general area. I plan to go to this general mechanic that I know
personally that is about five minutes from my house on Mon/Tuesday to
see if he can do the brakes, and some minor work, but I need help or
direction in the other areas.
Thank you for thoughts and help in advance!

Answer:

Thanks for your message:

Sounds like you have an amazing project ahead of you…

By the sounds of what you are planning, I have some comments that you may
wish to consider.

First of all, what ever you are planning to spend, expect to double it. Be
ready now, since the costs that you might accumulate do have a habit of
mounting and blowing your budget out of the water.

If your car is a numbers matching big block, it is a premium car, so you
should also consider doing a complete body off / frame restoration. It can
initially seem very expensive depending on what parts you need and the
condition of the frame. However, after my experience, it is actually far
less expensive in time, money and aggravation, to do it all at once, and to
do it right the first time. After all that I did to my ’71, it still should
have had a body off, but by then it was so over budget and so much time had
been spent doing things one small item at a time that I eventually became
exhausted with the project. I am happy to say that the new owner of my ’71
is actually considering the body project for himself. Also, if it is any
consideration, a body off restoration does add considerable value to the
final worth of a Corvette.

Another aspect that could affect your cost is that most all of the parts
that you need come from the United States. The low Canadian dollar that we
now seem to have, can increase parts prices substantially. I would suggest
that you ship larger single orders to cut down on brokerage fees. Remember
that U.S. origin antique auto parts are duty free.

First off, get yourself a copy of the NCRS Judging manual for 1968 – 1973
Corvettes, and better still, join the Ontario Chapter of NCRS.

Consider joining the Corvette Club of Ontario
http://www.ontariovettes.com.  It has over 150 members, is very active with
events throughout the year, and there are many members with similar cars to
your with a lot of experience as well.

I suggest that if you have not done so already, get a copy of the following
catalogues:

Mid America, Ecklers, ZIP Products, Paragon Restorations.

These suppliers will have the aluminum rocker covers, interior kits, weather
stripping, etc.

I have all my chrome work done by John Kearns at the Plating House in
Concord Ontario (905) 661-3964. It can be expensive, and there could be a
bit of a wait depending on how busy they are, but his work is second to
none.

For mechanical work, you should talk to Bill and Dino at Grand Sport Motors.
They are sponsors of Corvette Club of Ontario, and Bill did most all the
mechanical work on my ’71 while I had it. They do good honest work. They
are located at 163 Langstff Rd East (between Yonge and Bayview). Langstaff
runs parallel and just south of Highway 7 in Thornhill. They can be reached
at (905) 889-5053. Please tell them that I sent you.

Personally, I would tend to stay away from “general mechanics” no matter how
well you know them. Corvettte owners have to be very fussy, and you must
insist on correct parts and special care for any repairs, often much more so
than on a daily driver. That is why I would only have work done by a
Corvette ‘specialist’. Also, since you car is rather old, and is in fact a
classic not everone is familiar with the unusual quirks and idiosyncracies
that they have.

Interior trim can be purchased from the U.S. catalogue suppliers, however I
suggest that you have the seat cover done professionally. Also be sure to
order new interior foam pieces as well.

Btw, the Plating House also did the front end chrome, grill work etc. on
our ’73 Mercedes as well.

For paint and body, I would only recomend Loran Butler at Concept Cars in
Concord. He specializes in concours quality total restorations, including
body offs. Be prepared that it can be rather expensive to do a car there
since he often has to put in an incredible numbers of hours. It can also
take several months. Also, though your car is a low milleage vehicle, you
never know what you might find when you strip the paint off. I found a few
surprises on my car that certainly added to the cost since each old repair
had to be carefully redone correctly.

Try to plan on doing the paint, chrome, interior, body and frame all at
once. Expect it to take one year. Many of the costs can be spread out over
that time as you make your purchases, and the work is done. In the end you
will have an exceptional quality car that will only increase in value over
the years to come. Furthermore, you will have done it right and will only
need to do it once.

Much of the costs of doing an incremental restoration over a longer period
of time like I did, is in the repeated dis-assembly and re-assembly of the
various parts. These repetitive costs are actually saved in the long run if
you take the whole car apart only once, and do all the required detailing
and repairs together at that time. You also get a car that will be in new
condition throughout.

LT-1 admin

LT-1 admin

Corvette enthusiast

2 thoughts on “My 1971 Corvette

  • March 4, 2011 at 1:19 am
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    I discovered your blog last week and started follow your posts religiously. I have not commented on any blog just yet but I was thinking I would love to. It’s really exciting to actually contribute to a article even if it’s only a blog. I really don’t know exactly what to write other than I really enjoyed reading through 2 of the articles. Nice articles indeed. I sure will keep visiting your blog weekly. I learned quite a bit from you. Thx!

  • October 13, 2012 at 9:30 am
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    I also am restoring a 71 454 in Aurora. I have a pair of the aluminum covers.

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