Keeper

Also from Issue 53

  • 2010 Grand Sport first drive
  • 731-bhp LMR Z06
  • Best buys for $20K
  • LS7-powered 1963 restomod
  • Profile: David Burroughs
  • 1973 East Coast custom
  • Racing: ALMS GT2-class debut
  • How To: C3 control arms
  • 1957 Fuelie
Buy Corvette_magazine-53-cover
Keeper 1
Keeper 2
Keeper 3
Keeper 4
Keeper 5
Keeper 6
Keeper 7

With the Sting Ray now wearing a fresh coat of maroon paint, Jones turned his attention to the inside. “The interior was special in this car, and what I mean by special is that it was all original,” he explains. So while a brand-new set of carpets and re-upholstered seats and interior panels are often part of a full restoration, these were not needed in this case. “I was able to take everything out of the car in its original condition and restore it with the exception of the headliner.” An upholstery person repaired some broken stitches on the seat covers, and fixed two holes that had been added to allow the use of aftermarket head rests. In addition, the foam was replaced and the seat tracks were rebuilt. After the covers were re-dyed and refitted, the repairs were completely hidden.

The rest of the interior needed even less attention. “The dash and all of the tan trim were just cleaned and given a coat of dye,” says Jones. The front carpeting was removed so that a small area where the driver’s heel rests could be patched and then dyed. The rear carpets were simply dyed in place. “It was a great pleasure working on the interior, because I just had to bring things back to a new condition and didn’t have to fight aftermarket parts to make them fit.”

This Corvette emerged from the St. Louis factory with the optional heavy-duty F-41 suspension, which included thick front and rear sway bars and stiffer springs and shocks. Thankfully, almost all of the original suspension components were still in place, so Jones could focus on the detail work of refurbishing them. “Special attention was paid to how parts were painted by the original suppliers and the sort of parts that were used originally,” he says. “Rivets were used where the factory used rivets, and bolts with the correct head markings were used where the factory used bolts.”

A lot of time was also spent tracking down the appropriate finish for the hardware, which was then sent out for replating. “The brake calipers were finished just as the original supplier supplied them, with all of the machined portions free of paint and factory inspection marks all where they needed to be,” Jones adds.

The Goodyear Red Stripe 15-inch bias-ply tires that the car had when new were long gone, so Jones mounted modern replica tires that exactly match the original rubber. And though he says he has loses points for having over-restored wheels, he couldn’t resist polishing the original trim rings to a brilliant shine to complement the freshly restored wheels. We don’t blame him.

Finally, Jones tackled the aging drivetrain. The 427-cubic-inch/435-horse engine was yanked out and completely rebuilt, with a few changes to make it more suitable for the modern world. The compression ratio was lowered from 11.25:1 to 10.25:1 using different pistons, and the heads received hardened valve seats and valve guides—both steps to allow it to run reliably on unleaded gas. According to the car’s documentation, the gearbox had already been rebuilt, and since it seemed to be in perfect operating condition, it was simply detailed before being reinstalled along with the fresh motor.

Two years after beginning the restoration, Jones saw his diligence and hard work pay off. At the 2008 NCRS National Convention in St. Louis, the ’67 was awarded a 97.3-percent score. To put that into perspective, a first-place finish is anything above 94 percent.

Jones feels a deep sense of satisfaction for receiving such an impressive score, but he finds the act of simply driving this vintage Corvette even more fulfilling. “The car has all the power you would dream of on those small tires, and you can stop at any quality gas station to fill it up,” he says. “The filling up part happens quite often, as it is hard to keep my foot off of the accelerator pedal!”