So, you have a small family construction company and the winter's chill has cooled business down to a belly crawl. You're looking at three lean months ahead of you and itching for something productive to do. There's a fully stocked one-bay garage at the ready and you've got your son alongside of you who's pretty handy with a welder and has mad skills to boot. So what do you do with this welcome free time?
Well, if you're Nick Weber Sr. of Trenton, New Jersey, you build a car. And not just any car. You build your dream car. And when I say "build," I mean from start to finish. Three months. That's it. And not only do you build your dream car, you design it with retina burning paint and add sex appeal in bucket loads. Since you want to hit the road course as well, you arm it with a pile of go-fast goodies and a bulletproof backbone to boot.
Back in high school, Nick Sr. remembers salivating over a pair of sweet '63 Vettes in the school parking lot; a split-window coupe and a convertible, both owned by friends. But unfortunately at that time, the funds weren't there to obtain his own so Nick was resigned to drive his dad's good-old '72 Chevy wagon back and forth to school.
By the time he was 18 though, he had saved up enough to purchase a brand-spankin'-new Z28. Though the new Camaro had looks that stopped traffic, it just wasn't fast enough. So with the help of his buddies they installed a supercharged big-block into the Camaro, giving it the thrust needed to make young Nick happy. With that act, all was well with the world, at least for the time being.
Soon, family life came calling with two kids and a home so, needless to say, the fast cars were put on the shelf. It wasn't until little Nick Jr. was 8 years old when the two Nicks started playing with fast toys together. Dad quickly got his son hooked on juiced-up snowmobiles, getting the young boy addicted to the joys of speed at a very early age.
A few years later, Nick Sr. would finally get his ever-elusive Vette, picking up a beautiful, bone stock Daytona Blue '63 roadster. Though the C2 had the beautiful lines that he worshiped as a kid, the ride was lacking on a performance level. And due to its originality, he just didn't have the heart to modify the Corvette to his liking. So, sadly, the car was soon sold off to a local buyer.
Deep down inside, Nick Sr. knew he wanted the classy lines of a C2 but needed a more modern Corvette endoskeleton to get the performance he craved. So a plan was set in motion; find a needy C2, tear it down to its core, and build it back up to suit his needs and tastes.
Finding a solid C2 to build up these days is not that easy. Most have either been restored to their previous glory or have been rode hard and poorly pieced back together. Nick found that finding a car to create his vision was a pretty daunting task. After buying a couple of poor vehicles, he finally found his donor car, which on the outside looked like a pretty good deal. It was a drop-top '67, and Nick was quite happy with his choice … once again, for the time being.
Unfortunately, once the teardown began, the build went south pretty fast. Years of damage and neglect were covered over in layers upon layers of paint. Sadly, after the dust cleared, only the tub and doors were able to be saved. The dumpster got the rest.
Since Nick Sr. wanted this ride to hit the road course, he decided to start the project with a full tube chassis. He contacted Mike Stockdale over at SRIII Motorsports and ordered their round tube frame for the basis of the build. Not only is the frame hundreds of pounds lighter than a stock one it's also more rigid, and easily outperforms the original example under hard braking and acceleration. It also uses the stock body and bumper mounts and fuel tank so hooking it up to your C2 is a simple task.
Once it arrived, Nick and his son installed C5 front and C4 rear suspension setups to the powdercoated frame. An extensively narrowed Paul Newman Dana 44 rear with 3.55 gears was fit between the 'rails to handle the large tires and wheels Nick wanted to install. Hotchkis sway bars help out in cornering capabilities.
To get this Vette to stop on a pinhead, Nick chose a setup including SSBC brakes to do the dirty work. He installed three-piston Tri-Power calipers and 13-inch drilled rotors on all four corners for maximum stopping power. These big brakes were a necessary ingredient to get his beast to handle all the horsepower that was brewing in the back of the family garage. Nick also modified a Chevy 1-ton Hydroboost setup for even more braking capability.
And what about the motivation for this ride? To get this C2 up and running, Nick chose a 496 BBC to supply the power curve. A Scat rotating assembly, Performer RPM cylinder heads, and Isky roller rockers are just some of the goodies in this big block. An Isky cam with 0.601-inch lift and 226/234-degree duration runs the valves through the motions. A modified Holley carburetor from Nickerson Performance flows at 900 cfm, which is plenty enough to feed this hungry engine a good dose of air/fuel mixture.
Stainless Works headers and a custom exhaust help get rid of spent gasses in a hurry. A Tremec TKO-600 five-speed transmission shifts through the gears effortlessly. A Vintage Air system helps keep Nick cool even with the top down on summer's hottest days.
As for the body, well, that's an interesting story. Remember earlier when we said that most of the car had suffered damage over the years and was covered up with paint. All new panels: quarters, fenders, trunk, and hood were purchased to repair the abused C2. The body was hung from the ceiling, sandblasted clean, and then prepped for paint. One body modification performed was to "peak" all of the body lines, that is, to recontoured them with a sharp edge to highlight the body's intricacies.
Remember, this work is all being done in a one-bay garage in a residential, suburban area. After the car was prepped, a 1 a.m. paintjob was set up to keep the neighbors at bay. By the time they awoke most of the foul smell had dissipated. For paint, he used the leftover BASF hue in GM color Spice Red from his son's '46 Chevy pickup. Talk about being frugal … or maybe they just didn't have the time to wait in line at the body supply store!
When Nick started on his build, he decided he wanted ginormous meats out back. He selected a pair of 345/30R19 Nittos connected to a pair of Bonspeed 19x12 rims. When he told Mike over at SRIII about his plan, Mike told him that using rubber that big could not be installed on a C2 convertible while keeping the top fully functional. Well, never tell Nick Sr. or Nick Jr. that something can't be done.
With the frame fully set up with the tire and wheel combo out back, and the 18x9 rims up front decked out in 275/35R18 Nittos, the body was lowered onto the frame. With a little Sawzall modification to the rear tub, the body was fit cautiously over the tires. The rear tub was once again built up out of fiberglass, being careful not to impede the movement of the convertible soft top and frame. Once again, it was success for the two Nicks!
Finally, the interior was sent out to Classic Upholstery in Columbus, New Jersey. The shop not only handled all the interior refinish, but also took care of the beautiful Stayfast cloth top on the convertible. This was the only part of the build that neither of the two Nicks did themselves. Pretty amazing to say the least, especially given the short build time.
The entire build from start to finish took a hair over three months. After practically living in their one-bay garage for that time period, both father and son can say that it was definitely worth the time spent. Since finishing the roadster, Nick's auto crossed it, done speed-stop challenges, and raced it at New Jersey Motorsports Park with some of the great people from protouring.com. And Nick Sr. couldn't think of a better way to get through those winter doldrums than by building a one-off corner-carving roadster with his son by his side. It's like he states, "It's not just the car, it's the memories."