Where to begin? Well firstly, I must place the blame squarely on my Uncle Jim in Colorado. I believe it was in 1998 our family flew out there for my cousin's wedding and I was able to ride in and drive my Aunt and Uncles 1978 Corvette. Well after that I knew I would have to get one. Had I never driven that car, maybe all this would have never happened! So, now that we have established the guilty party (ha ha!), we can move on to the car.
In March of 2003 I had been searching Ebay for a Corvette. I wanted a project car, but one that was in good shape and had all the correct features. I found one in Englishtown NJ and was able to trailer it home for $3200. A few days before I was to go pick it up, we were lucky enough to get a huge snowstorm and then on the day I picked it up it poured like no tomorrow. As you can see, it's arrived home safely, although also wet and cold.
So, what did I get for my $3200? Well, if you know much about Corvettes, there are changes just about every year (at least back in the 60's and 70's) and each year is quite unique. For example in 1976 they decided to put a steel floor pan in rather than a fiberglass one. Subsequently many of these cars need the entire floor replaced if it is a project car like I bought. Hence I stayed far away from any '76 Vettes. This Vette had almost all the exact features I wanted (and some I found after I got it home), so for me well worth it.
Specific Feature Details:
74 to 77 (Flat rear Window)
Tilt/telescoping Steering Wheel (this is way cool)
Power Windows/Manual Locks
Interior color that was not Tan or Green (Black in this case)
Fiberglass Side Mirrors
No Rear Luggage Rack
Frame in Good Shape
Fiberglass in Good Shape
Overall the car was in good shape. The paint was toast from the weather, but overall the fiberglass was in good shape. The frame was in excellent shape, as these are known for rotting out right about mid car, under the doors. The engine turned over, but wouldn't start. I tried for an afternoon to get it to fire up and then gave up and just yanked it out. Here are a few shots of the car once I had a chance to look over what I bought.
So, what are my plans? Well, sorry to you restoration fans, but I will not be restoring this back to a numbers matching car. This project will be what they now call a Vette-Rod. The drivetrain, suspension and instrumentation will be updated with late model components so that this car is driveable, comfortable and quite frankly, will haul ass!
Late Model LS1 (or maybe a Z06) Engine ~ >500 hp
6 Speed Manual Tranmission
MegaSquirt ECU for EFI and Spark Control
At least a C4 (possibly C5) Suspension Grafted to Frame
Power Windows & Locks
Late Model Seats
Battery Relocated to Engine Compartment
Electric Headlight Actuators (bye-bye vacuum canisters)
Custom Gauges and Instumentation (Multicolor LED Accent Lighting)
GPS, CD/MP3 Player Integrated into Dash
Custom Door Panels ( With Multicolor LED Accent Lighting)
Tasteful Body Kit
Dark Metallic Blue Paint with Dual White Racing Stripes
This car will indeed be a project. I'll probably be looking for a late model salvage Corvette to donate the suspension. Originally I was going to go with a C4, but since I already have this rather ambitious project planned, maybe I'll just go for a C5 and chop out and remold the floor as well. This would give it a rear mounted transmission and the large torque tube that goes from the engine to the rear. It'd be some work but would give the car a 50/50 front to rear balance. Ah, decisions!
To start with I began tearing the car down. Interior gutted, engine compartment gutted and a survey of the damage.
The first problem I came across was that the T-tops had been leaking. This car had sat outside in the weather for 5 years and the leaking T-tops allowed water to get in and rot out the windshield frame and run down to where the steel cage bolts to the frame and rust that as well. The windsheild frame had to be replaced as there was no salvaging it. I found one at the Carlisle PA Corvette swap meet, made very careful measurements and cut the old one out and welded the new one in place.
Unfortunately, due to time, money and other things in life, that's about as far as I have gotten with the car. At this point there is still a lot of planning and I probably won't do much more until I decide if I am going to do a C4 or C5 suspension conversion and aquire a donor car as well as find the drivetrain I want. There will be a ton of cutting, welding and fabrication to go along with that. I'll be learning how to make fiberglass floors and other fun stuff. Here are pictures of the empty engine compartment as well as the next challenge I need to look into, the rust on the lower cage where it bolts to the frame.
I'll keep this page updated as progress continues. So far it looks like the rest of 2008 may be a bust as I've got too many things going on to devote time to this. However if all goes well, I should be in a much better position to get this project car to the next step. See ya!