Trends in the car hobby seem to always be in a constant state of flux. This is certainly the case in the Corvette universe. If you’re on the hunt for an older model, you may likely have some tough decisions to make when cutting a check. Whether you want to build a restomod, vintage racer, or do a full-blown NCRS level restoration—or anything in between—it inevitably comes down to finding the right car, and making the right personal decisions.
For Rhode Islander Jeff Goldstein, that decision-making process started back in 1986. At that point in time, all he was looking for was a nice Corvette driver to enjoy. Word of mouth led him to the ’66 Silver Pearl Metallic C2 convertible that you see. An original 327-cubic-inch/350-horse engine, four-speed car, it scratched that Corvette itch for many years. As a result, it saw plenty of road time and delivered many happy miles. As the C2 love affair progressed, Jeff grew his knowledge base of all things Corvette. He gradually became aware of the efforts of the National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS), and their dedication to the restoration, preservation, and history of the Corvette brand. Armed with that knowledge, he slowly tried to rectify his ’66. “As I learned what was incorrect, I attempted to change it back as much as I could to what was correct,” he explains. When he purchased the car, the claim was that it was a fresh restoration. He now describes it as a “coffee can restoration. Nothing matched. Everything got thrown into the coffee can. Whatever screws fit, that’s what got used.”
After 25 years of regular use, Jeff decided the old girl needed to be freshened up. With so many years behind the wheel—and the understanding of what his car realistically was—a change in build direction was made. “It was never going to be an original car,” Jeff candidly admits. “There were too many parts that were missing and not enough history to have it be considered an NCRS Top Flight car, so I decided to make it into the car that I would have ordered myself.”
Xtreme Restorations in Slatersville, Rhode Island, was handed the job of giving the ’66 a full makeover. Once they started ripping into the body, the car began to shed some light into its past. Inside, they found numerous holes in the floor where it appeared that a rollbar and oversized fuel tank had been installed. When the body was separated from the frame it gave up even more secrets. At some point, the frame had been seam welded and had gussets added, as specified in the Chevrolet Power Service Manual. This type of modification was commonly performed on cars destined for aggressive road course action. These alterations pointed to the likelihood that, at some point, this Corvette saw some track action.
As a result, questions popped up as to what they would find once they started to peel back the silver paint. Underneath, they found a layer of Milano Maroon, a layer of non-GM green metallic, and the original layer of Silver Pearl Metallic. What was surprising was the exceptionally good condition of the fiberglass body, taking into consideration the assumed road race background.
With the C2 torn apart, the crew at Xtreme began the restoration process by performing minor repairs to the body and fine-tuning all of the body gaps and body lines. After it was razor sharp, they laid down a fresh basecoat/clearcoat of Silver Pearl Metallic. They also modified the driver-side floor. Jeff explains, “Standing 6-feet, 5-inches, I’m tall, and being comfortable in the car was a high priority.” The shop accomplished this by cutting the pedals about 1 inch below the hinge point under the dash, and then welding a horizontal piece extending rearward. The cut off pedal was then welded to that horizontal piece, so the hinge point remains the same, but the pedal location is farther back. In addition, they also moved the toeboard out 2 inches closer to the front tire. These mods allow him to operate the pedals without his knees hitting the steering wheel.
When it came time to replace the interior Jeff opted for red leather instead of the original black vinyl. He also wanted some creature comforts installed, like air conditioning and power windows. While the windows were not an issue, tracking down an original ’66 A/C unit proved to be a challenge. After months of searching, he found a complete, functioning unit in Hawaii.
Unlike the custom work being performed on the body, everything that was rebuilt or replaced on the drivetrain was put back to factory stock as much as possible. The NCRS influence in that decision was clearly at play, however, the red cloth top and period-correct Keystone five-spoke mags wrapped in 15-inch whitewall radials were very much a personal statement.
The end result was a much more comfortable car to drive that still retained the essence of a stock C2 that rolled off the assembly line in 1966. Validation for his efforts, and the quality workmanship from the crew at Xtreme, came when the Corvette debuted at the 2010 Detroit Autorama and was awarded 1st Place, Class Winner for Modified Sports.
Sharing the stage with the ’66 is the Rally Red ’67 convertible seen here, too. Unlike the ’66, it has no skeletons in its closet. Purchased in 2011, this Corvette was the fulfillment of a dream. “I thought I knew what I wanted,” Jeff admits. “I realized that I probably wouldn’t locate a ‘barn find’ and probably couldn’t afford a low-mileage original Corvette, so cars like that weren’t part of my equation. Instead, I tried to find the most affordable and original small-block ’67 convertible with air conditioning, four-speed, and red interior. Was I asking too much?” Apparently not. Through the magic of the Internet, he located this C2, which fulfilled his wishes. It was listed as having had a recent body-on chassis restoration and an immaculate original interior. In equally superb condition was the paint, even though it wasn’t original. Overall, it was in many ways, a very solid car, or as Jeff likes to describe it, with “good bones.” In terms of options, it had just about every luxury accouterment you could order on a ’67 Corvette. It was also fully documented; something that was lacking in the ’66. Since this car was an open book, Jeff felt that it was an excellent candidate for an NCRS Top Flight award.
The folks at Xtreme Restorations were again asked to perform their magic on this C2. Their challenge was to restore the car back to its day one condition, as it rolled out of the St. Louis assembly plant in 1967. While the car was well on its way to fulfilling many of the NCRS criteria at the time Jeff acquired it, there were still numerous things wrong with it. At some point, the 327-cubic-inch/300-horse engine had been dressed-up with an aluminum intake and valve covers to make it look like the 350-horse version. This meant finding the correct, date-coded parts, which became a part-time job. He also took the opportunity, while that work was being done, to pull the engine and have a complete rebuild done.
Part of the process with this car was to also use the original documentation, which included copies of all the previous titles, as a means to track down past owners. To his surprise, he found out that this ’67 was originally a “brass hat” vehicle, which went a long way to explain all the options. The “brass hat” label is usually given to a vehicle that is ordered for a celebrity or GM executive. A St. Louis Chevrolet sales zone manager ordered this particular car. The NCRS records verified that it was delivered to Dagley Chevrolet in St. Louis. The paperwork also showed that the sales manager only used it for about three months, at which point it was sent back to the dealership to be sold as a used vehicle. Up until Jeff purchased the car, it had spent its life in the St. Louis area, with one family having owned it for over 30 years.
After Xtreme completed the work, Jeff had the car NCRS judged at the local, regional, and national level, where it scored 97 points or better, giving him three Top Flight awards. “Having my car judged at several NCRS events gave me an education,” he points out. Part of that education was the realization, as was the case with the ’66, that sometimes when attempting a restoration, it doesn’t need to be to an NCRS level. “It’s easy to let your passion for a Corvette leave your common sense and good judgment behind,” he explains. “I think you have to be pretty smart, patient, and very well prepared, or be very lucky when buying and restoring a Corvette.” With both of these C2s, Jeff managed to cover all the bases and make the right choices to fulfill his dream.