End of the Line

It is only fitting that the last Corvette Dick Guldstrand built features elements of multiple generations, including a Sting Ray body, C4 suspension and a fifth-gen powertrain.

March 15, 2013
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Guldstrand Motorsports began somewhat inauspiciously in the Burbank, California backyard of Dick Guldstrand’s friend and crew chief Bobby Joe MacDonald in 1969. In the more than four decades since, the shop has built hundreds of race and street cars and worked on thousands more. Former Corvette racer Guldstrand never guessed that one of his final projects would be a cup holder. “Ah, yes, the cup holder,” Guldstrand says with a hint of ruefulness. “We could write a story about the cup holder.” And so we shall.

The story starts in 2009, with a telephone call. On the phone was Victoria Hearst, daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst, granddaughter of legendary media giant William Randolph Hearst and a long-time customer of Guldstrand Motorsports. She was calling Guldstrand about a car she wanted to have built.

As Hearst tells it, “A friend got me hooked on watching Barrett-Jackson auctions on television, and I started seeing these cars, street rods, that had the original body and stuff, but put it all on a new chassis. I thought, ‘You know what, I’d like an older Vette, but I don’t want to deal with all the old mechanicals in it.’ So I called brother Dick and said, ‘I’ve got a plan. What if we got a mid-year and put it on a modern chassis? Would you want to be my partner in crime?’”

Guldstrand readily agreed and therewith began a search for the appropriate car. The hunt consumed over nine months, took Guldstrand all the way to the East Coast and turned up a lot of badly repaired bodies and bent, rusty frames. Finally, ironically, the car he ended up buying, a 1965 coupe with a standard 327 V8 and four-speed manual transmission, was located in Southern California, scarcely 30 miles away.

“It was owned by a wonderful guy,” Guldstrand recounts, “a retired Navy pilot who had bought it to drive and then restore with his son. After he retired, his son moved away and all of sudden he wasn’t into it anymore.” Over the course of 15 years, the owner had taken the car apart and amassed replacement parts. Members of a local Corvette club told Guldstrand about the car and said the owner would probably like to be made some sort of decent offer to take it out of his garage. And that’s exactly what happened.

With the Corvette in hand, the work could begin. Guldstrand started with a frame from Paul Newman of Newman Car Creations in Templeton, California. “We have a lot of experience with the C4 suspension parts, how to modify them for the old frame,” Guldstrand explains. “Instead of having to retool and fabricate the whole thing, though, we had Newman do one of his frames and sent him the parts to put on it, and then he fabricated where I wanted to put the bits and pieces.” The chassis features several Guldstrand Motorsports suspension components, including strut rods, anti-sway bars and bushings. This is the first Newman frame to use coil-over shocks, units specifically developed and sold by Guldstrand for C4 Corvettes. “It was quite a study,” Guldstrand smiles. “I mean, back and forth, all the drawings and fiddling around. We had to modify the entire backside to get the C4 suspension parts, coil-overs and all that on it the way I wanted them.”

As for the powerplant, Guldstrand chose to go with an LS1 engine. In standard trim, this C5-era 346-cubic-inch V8 is good for 345 horsepower; Guldstrand massaged it to the tune of 400 horsepower. It is mated to a four-speed 4L60-E automatic transmission, as Hearst confesses she can’t drive a stick. Special mounts had to be fabricated for the engine, transmission and 12.5:1-ratio rack-and-pinion steering box. The frame was further modified to accept the custom exhaust system designed by Guldstrand; it incorporates Flowmaster components.

Also from Issue 81

  • 2014 Corvette Stingray
  • 60th Anniversary Salute: C4
  • Buyer’s Guide: C4
  • Supercharged 2003 Convertible
  • 1973 COPO Coupe
  • GM Heritage Center
  • Profile: Gib Hufstader
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