OK, so it’s obviously a little late for Chevrolet to update one of their most iconic sports cars, the 1967 Corvette, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend. Some might call this a restomod, but its owner likes to think of it as a “renovation, not a restoration” meaning the term restomod is evidently out of the picture.
“If Chevrolet were building this car today with new technology,” states its owner James, “this would be it.”
That is one bold statement, there’s no doubt about it, but what becomes clear is the fact that he might actually be right. The car can’t be mistaken for anything other than 100 percent ’67 Corvette big-block but it is littered with subtle details that transform the car into something that supersedes anything GM could have imagined back in the mid-’60s.
James purchased the Vette as a nice driver. It was “just” a four-speed, small-block, A/C car that he didn’t have huge plans for but after letting it sit for a few years a vision started to form in his head. He wanted something that resembled the most iconic of mid-year Corvettes—a 1967 big-block—but with modern details scattered throughout. These days, it is getting easier and easier to modernize classic sports cars like the Corvette, but with new technology usually comes a significant loss of the car’s original character. James wanted to change that.
To take his plan from dream to reality, James went to the Roadster Shop in Mundelein, Illinois. The boys at the Roadster Shop are no strangers to taking a classic car from ancient to modern, but usually without fretting over the loss of originality.
“I wore them out on the details at first,” James jokes, “but I think it grew on them.”
While they wanted to take a custom approach to James’ 1967 Corvette, he wanted custom details that emulated stock—a first for the Roadster Shop. Another first was building one of their infamous frames to fit a C2 Corvette. At the time, they hadn’t built a full frame for a C2, so James’ was the test-mule with which they developed a custom chassis that they now offer for mid-year Vettes. The frame is complete with Roadster Shop Fast Track IFS (independent front suspension) and Fast Track IRS (independent rear suspension). Out back lives an Eaton Truetrac limited-slip and 3.90:1 rear gear. They used Hyperco coil springs and Penske shocks front and rear along with their own antiroll bars. At all four corners C6 Corvette spindles were utilized along with stock C6 disc brakes; the rotors measure 13 inches in the front and 12 inches in the rear.
Keeping with the idea of “renovation,” James wanted the big brakes and fancy chassis out of sight, but the factory wheels don’t come close to fitting over the C6 brakes and off-the-shelf aftermarket wheels were out of the question.
The solution was found in Greening Auto Company who machined a set of custom 18-inch wheels that are almost identical to the original bolt-on wheels from 1967. The one-off shoes are staggered with the fronts being 18x7 and the rears 18x8. Diamond Back supplied James with custom redline tires to complete the factory-correct appearance.
When it comes to the rest of the exterior, the wheels and tires are far from the only details that are “upgraded originals.” The PPG paint sprayed by the guys at the Roadster Shop is factory Sunfire Yellow but with a little white mixed in to give it a slightly lighter tone than it would have originally. The front and rear bumpers were sectioned and tucked before being rechromed by Advanced Plating of Nashville, Tennessee. Finally, to further refine the look of James’ Vette, the Roadster Shop fitted all the trim pieces and body gaps to a standard much higher than that of 1967.
Have a seat inside this ’67 and it takes a moment to realize that what you are sitting in and looking at is not all original. The seats, dash panels and door cards are visually identical to what you would have found in a Chevrolet dealership when this car was new with the only difference being materials. Ogden Top & Trim of Berwyn, Illinois, upgraded the materials from cheap vinyl to luxurious leather. Behind the scenes, Boom Mat and Vintage Air keep the interior temperatures under control. On the center console the familiar sight of a chrome placard displays a shift pattern, but instead of four forward gears, six are now indicated. Behind the shifter still lives the factory Delco radio, except it isn’t factory at all—the controls have been reworked to support a modern sound system complete with four MB Quart 6-inch speakers and an auxiliary cord. The dials sitting in the dash are another detail that look so factory that the new readouts of 200 mph and 8,000 rpm are easy to miss. These gauges, reworked originals by NuVintage of Arvada, Colorado, hint at the changes under the hood.
Speaking of under the hood, it’s no secret that isn’t an original big-block 427. In fact, the sticker on the air cleaner reads “LS7” but if you only take a short glance, the old-school valve covers, chrome air cleaner, and oil breather cap might just have you fooled.
Behind the smoke and mirrors is a Chevrolet Performance LS7 crate engine good for 505 hp at 6,300 rpm. Most of what makes this a modern engine, though, was either hidden from sight or made to look like something it’s not. What looks like a carburetor is actually a FAST EZ EFI and the coil packs are nowhere to be found because they were relocated underneath the ignition shielding. An Edlebrock single-plane, high-rise intake manifold and smoothed stock exhaust manifolds keep with this trend of old-school appearance. Keeping the engine cool is a Ron Davis aluminum radiator that hides behind custom brackets.
While the differing mph and rpm in the dash pointed to the LS7, the six speeds indicated on the chrome placard refers to the TREMEC T-56 Magnum built by Bowler Performance Transmissions in Lawrenceville, Illinois. As much fun as an original Muncie might be, the T-56 brings with it modern reliability and more gears to better balance highway cruising while taking advantage of the 3.90:1 rear gear.
It’s all in the details with this iconic Vette, but the modern performance of that LS7 and six-speed puts the icing on the cake. From the old school engine dress-up to the lightly breathed on exterior to the stealthy interior, James’ 1967 Corvette has somehow done the impossible by improving upon perfection.