For some reason, C2 elitists treat the '64 Corvette as the redheaded stepchild of the mid-year lineage. It seems strange, but it's presumably a coping mechanism for spending a fortune on a big-block–powered mid-year that's too rare and precious to drive. That would seriously suck. Whatever the real reason may be, the lower demand for '64s means that they're often the most affordable C2s on the market. Paul Wolf bought his for $1,400. With the least popular C2 model year also comes less pressure to keep things all-original. These factors laid out the perfect scenario for Paul to transform his '64 Corvette into an LS7-powered Pro Touring monster poised to beat up on its more favored siblings.
Let's get one thing straight: Any mid-year Vette is one gorgeous piece of machinery. Why the '64s get a bum reputation is a bit of a mystery. Sure, you can't get them as split-windows, but at least they don't have the lame hood grilles found on the '63s. Yes, '65 and later cars got big-blocks, but some feel that their vertical fender coves weren't nearly as attractive as the '64s horizontal slats. And almost 50 years later, the egg-crate grilles of the '66 and '67 models still look like something that GM stylists should have forgotten about after the '55 Chevy. Granted, such minutia is prime fodder for Corvette guys to squabble over, but when Paul bought his car in 1971, none of that mattered. "Back then, it was just a used, 7-year-old Chevy. I bought it in St. Louis when I was 17, just 15 miles down the road from where it was built," he explains. "I've always liked '57 Chevys and GTOs, but when it comes down to spending my money, I spend it on Corvettes. Maybe there's some kind of St. Louis connection, because I'm not nearly as interested in the Corvettes that have come out of the Bowling Green plant."
Powered by a solid lifter 327 small-block, Paul drove the Corvette daily through high school and college. After throwing a connecting rod through the side of the block, he swapped in a 350. By 1981, Paul relocated to Texas, and left the car at his parents' house. "I got a call from my mom one day, and she said she was going to sell that old Chevy of mine because winter was coming up and my dad wanted to park in the garage again. I drove out there as fast as I could and trailered the car back to my house," he recalls. Shortly thereafter, Paul restored the interior, fired the beast back up, and enjoyed the car whenever he could. Unfortunately, the Vette didn't have air conditioning, which made driving it between June and October highly unpleasant. Likewise, with the demands of a growing family and business occupying most of his time, the Vette sat dormant for the next 20 years.
By the time 2006 rolled around, the kids were all grown up and Paul was determined to get back in the game. At that point, the Vette's gas tank was leaking and the brakes had locked up. By chance, he ran into some Vintage Air employees at a sandwich shop one day that set his restoration plans in motion. "I noticed a couple of guys sitting across the room that had Vintage Air shirts on. I asked them if they knew any shops that did nice restoration work, and they recommended Roger Lynskey of RPL Customs (Royse City, Texas)," he recollects. "Roger learned his craft from guys like Boyd Coddington, and when I went to visit him at the shop, I was blown away by the caliber of his work. I always wanted a car with air conditioning, and since the original motor was long gone, there was no point in trying to do an original restoration. That led me down the restomod path, and with all the new technology out there these days, it just made sense to integrate that technology into the build."
Fortunately, all the years the Vette spent in storage had preserved the original fiberglass, and none of it needed replacement. Instead, RPL made some custom tweaks to enhance the car's functionality. "Since I'm 6'2" and weigh 240 pounds, I can barely fit inside old Corvettes. Roger extended the driver-side floorboard 4 inches into the engine compartment to increase legroom," Paul explains. "He also recessed the inner wheelwell 1.5 inches to make room for bigger tires, shaved the antennae, and added a third brake light. The paint is a slightly modified version of the factory Lynndale Blue, which was sprayed by Vastine's Paint Garage. Roger designed an all-new interior as well, complete with custom seats, Vintage Air air conditioning, custom door panels, a custom gauge cluster, power accessories, and an Alpine stereo."
Since slick bodywork and a comfy interior are just half of the Pro Touring battle, the Vette needed a serious infusion of horsepower and grip. Seeking big-time grunt in a small, lightweight package, dropping an LS7 small-block under the clamshell hood was the perfect solution. It's backed up by a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed manual trans. Barking through Rewarder headers and dual MagnaFlow 2.5-inch pipes, the combo lays down 463 rear-wheel horsepower on the chassis dyno. Harnessing all that power on the straights and through the corners is a Street Shop aftermarket frame that utilizes C4 Corvette aluminum control arms, custom sway bars, and QA1 coilovers. Wilwood six-piston brakes scrub off the velocity, while Schott wheels wrapped in Nitto rubber stick it all to the pavement.
Granted that Paul's Vette packs plenty of high-tech goodies and stunning good looks, what really sets it apart is that he built it for himself. He didn't lament the fact that it isn't a split-window coupe. He didn't feel the need to trade it in for a more in-demand mid-year. He didn't give a rat's behind that it has a 427ci small-block instead of a 427ci big-block. Instead, he took a redheaded stepchild and gave it the beans to stick it to its more privileged siblings.
|Vehicle:||1964 Chevrolet Corvette|
|Owner:||Paul Wolf, San Antonio, TX|
|Engine||GM LS7 small-block|
|Displacement||427 cubic inches (7 liters)|
|Heads||Factory 260cc aluminum castings, 70cc combustion chambers|
|Valves||Titanium 2.20-inch intake, stainless steel 1.61-inch exhaust|
|Camshaft||Stock 211/230-at-0.050 hydraulic roller, 122-degree LSA|
|Induction||Factory LS7 intake manifold and throttle body|
|EFI||Stock GM ECU, Rock Valley fuel tank and pump|
|Ignition||Stock GM coil packs and plugs; Taylor wires|
|Exhaust||Rewarder 1.75-inch headers, dual 2.5-inch MagnaFlow mufflers|
|Transmission||Tremec TKO 600 five-speed manual, McLeod clutch|
|Frame||Custom Street Shop chassis|
|Suspension||C4 Corvette aluminum spindles and control arms; Street Shop sway bars, QA1 coilovers|
|Brakes||Wilwood 13-inch discs with six-piston calipers, front; 12-inch discs and single-piston calipers, rear|
|Wheels||Schott I-Force 18x8, front; 20x10, rear|
|Tires||Nitto NT555 235/40R-18, front; 275/35R-20, rear|