“I thought about what I’d like to accomplish,” Landers explains, “and decided to turn it into a restomod. This decision was made when the genre was not nearly as popular as it is today, but I was more interested in making myself happy and was not concerned with what a prospective future buyer might like.”
Landers planned his attack very carefully, mapping out projects for each winter that would move the process forward in logical increments while making sure
the car was once again drivable each summer. “The idea was to improve the car in every way I could and eliminate all of the poor workmanship and flaws in the basic design,” he says.
The car’s original L36 mill was set aside in favor of a GM Performance ZZ502 crate engine modified with ported cylinder heads and a hotter Crane roller cam. An 850-cfm Holley carb and 140-gph Holley electric fuel pump deliver fuel while an MSD setup provides spark. Custom-made, stainless-steel headers with 2-inch primaries and 3-inch collectors dump exhaust gases into 3.5-inch side pipes with Spiral Turbo Specialties mufflers. A stock 5-blade engine fan is supplemented by a “pusher” fan on the intake side of the aluminum Be Cool radiator.
As with the engine, the car’s original Muncie wide-ratio 4-speed manual transmission was put into storage and a Classic Chevy Tremec TKO 600 5-speed took its place. The updated gearbox sports a 0.64:1 overdrive for fifth, giving reasonable fuel economy on the highway with no shortage of acceleration off the line. A custom lightweight driveshaft brings the engine’s twist back to the stock 3.70:1 Positraction rear end.
Landers and longtime friend Fred Kubiak, a local Corvette racer from the ’50s who played a major role in the project, turned to Vette Brakes for suspension parts. Adjustable polyurethane springs front and rear, polyurethane bushings throughout, the largest anti-sway bars available for the car and Bilstein gas shocks deliver the mix of handling agility and ride quality Landers sought. “The new suspension enabled us to lower the car three inches in the front and two inches in the back,” he tells us, “which totally cures the front end lift over 120 mph that plagued all mid-years!”
The car’s original steering box was replaced with a new, more precise one from Flaming River. A polished Flaming River tilt steering column and 10-inch Grant wood wheel complete the steering-system mods. The engine’s somewhat radical camshaft doesn’t enable it to make quite enough vacuum for a conventional power brake booster, so a Hydroboost setup, with a dual reservoir master cylinder for added safety, was installed.