Due to a finite budget, and a desire to drive our car as much as possible, we found ourselves doing a long term incremental type of restoration. The priority items that were attended to first, were those that affected vehicle safety and reliability . We also found that it also needed a rad support, windshield frame, corners and header.
We also began our own job of a thorough under hood cleaning and detailing. It all had to be carefully hand stripped and cleaned with a tooth brush and lots of patience. Special attention was given to obtaining correct bolts, clamps, hoses, weather stripping and fasteners throughout. When possible, screws were upgraded to stainless.
The car was painted silver when we bought it, and had a thin base only coat that soon started to wear off. In 1995 when parked in a hotel lot while attending a meeting, some kind person left me a three foot long key scratch that went right through the paint into the fiberglass body. It became apparent that due to the uneven silver paint, a total refinishing job was required. For this task I chose master paint and body man Loran Butler at Concept Cars in Concord Ontario. Loran’s talents include restorations of many Corvette and other exotics, as well as Customs and Rods. Cars that carry his paint and body work are regular show winners at all the large indoor events.
Starting in October of 1995 the car was completely stripped, and it was found to have four different paints on it, as well as some minor rear-end collision damage. All body panels were original, and seams were intact. Loran hand casted pieces to fill the previously bondo filled holes, and “massaged” all the body lines, gaps, roof panels, door jams, and other damaged areas. He also dishes out the filler from the body seams and strips, and fills them with fiberglass. This creates a one piece body panel, with much greater rigidity and durability than the factory three piece original fender construction. The car was all hand sanded, cut and highly polished, in base-clear urethane in its original Sunflower Yellow. The hood stripe was inlaid, black paint using a stencil and cleared over.
While the body was being done, we took the opportunity to refinish and detail the interior, we also restuffed and re-covered the seats. The carpets and all panels are original and were in good condition when we started. We dyed and repaired where needed, and stripped and repainted the console and gauge cluster trim plates. The chrome was also done to show standards, with the bumpers cut and bent to fit the car, the work being done by John Kearns at the Plating House in Concord Ontario.
The work was finally done at Concept Cars the day of the move in for the Performance World Custom Car Show in March of 1996, at the International Centre in Toronto. Everything was timed to the last minute, and our car would eventually win the award for Best Corvette (and $100) at that show.
Drive Train Work:
We replaced the clutch and had the transmission built around the same time that new powder coated trailing arms and rear spindles were installed. In January of 2000, the motor was pulled, and rebuilt using all correct G.M. parts, including the solid lifters and cam by Eagle Engines in Concord. The Carb was also rebuilt as well as new brake callipers for the front. At the same time, a new power brake conversion kit was installed.
Photo on left shows the freshly rebuilt motor being re-installed. While the engine was out, the underside of the hood was stripped and refinished, revealing the original North American Rockwell parts label embedded in the fiberglass.