This 1-of-8,504 1965 Corvette Sport Coupes was an unmolested cherry when Randy Collier of Franklin, Tennessee, found it. The original owner, as described by its second owner, was a lady that poetic license allows us to write was probably a schoolteacher. We say this based on past Vette features where every time we highlighted a standard equipped 250-horse 327 mated to an optional M35 two-speed Powerglide the car was delivered new to a schoolteacher. And those were mostly in Ermine White with a bright blue or saddle interior, no less.
Collier located the low-mile ’65 coupe through an ad that had been lingering on the Internet for several months. The seller wanted one thousand dollars for every thousand miles for the 42,000 miles showing on the odometer, but then lowered the price to $38,000 when he wasn’t finding a buyer. Collier gave the guy a call and then pulled a car trailer for 10 hours to Nokesville, Virginia, where he found the ’65 sitting in a tin pole barn. Anxious to be its third owner, Collier didn’t haggle one bit about paying $38,000 and loaded the ’65 onto his trailer. Collier drove the coupe around Franklin for two weeks before deciding to strip it down to the bare frame.
Collier is a custom homebuilder by trade and hands-on when it comes to custom-building a car for himself. The first decision was to swap the stock ’65 Corvette frame out for a Street Shop C7 Z06-based mandrel-formed chassis. In Street Shop’s own words, their approach is to “use an open driveshaft configuration with a forward mounted transmission.”
In addition to a rolling chassis, Street Shop proved to be an excellent choice to source all of the best brands needed to build a complete car. Purchased through Street Shop, American Powertrain of Cookeville, Tennessee, was the source for a TREMEC TKO 600 five-speed transmission with cryogenically treated gears, and a stock shifter location. A Lakewood bellhousing is home to an Atomic dual-friction clutch with a billet flywheel. The billet HammerHead IRS differential is filled with 4.10 gears and a posi.
One advantage to building a restomod, beyond a higher resale price than a faithfully restored stock Corvette, is the personalization you can infuse by picking and choosing design elements from different model year Corvettes. The most noticeable mix and match on Collier’s ’65 is the addition of a 1967 Stinger hood intended to shelter a big-block 427. The BBC under the Stinger hood is a Shafiroff Racing 582-inch engine built by Vinnie based on a Brodix aluminum block, Callies crank, Manley H-beam rods hung with 10.5:1 Diamond pistons and a custom-grind Comp roller cam. The top end features finned aluminum PML valve covers on Dart Pro 1 heads flanking an Edelbrock intake capped with a 950-cfm Quick Fuel carburetor. Ignition is via an MSD Pro-Billet distributor with an MSD 6AL box and MSD Blaster coil.
Fuel delivery comes from an Aeromotive in-tank fuel pump and regulator. The cooling chores fall to a Stewart water pump and a Be Cool radiator assisted by twin 10-inch fans. The exhaust system starts with Street Shop custom-fabricated 2 1/4-inch stainless steel headers dumping into 4-inch collectors back into 2 1/2-inch pipes exiting RPO N14 side mount exhausts.
Looking through wrap-over doors exposes an interior authentic to the ’65’s original bright-blue interior color, but a closer look reveals Collier’s preference for ’64 bucket seats with vertical tuck ’n’ roll pleats and ’67 chrome door handles. Collier obtained color-correct materials from Al Knoch Interiors and commissioned Hot Rods & Threads of College Grove, Tennessee, to custom-shape high-density foam and custom upholster the seats and the door panels in bright blue.
For soundproofing and keeping outside weather conditions outside, Collier laid Dynamat beneath color-keyed deep twist carpet. Luxury options abound inside, starting with Vintage Air air conditioning driven off a Vintage Air Front Runner serpentine belt system and 145-amp alternator. The sound system is a 1965 RPO U69 AM-FM stereo radio updated with modern internals and a standard (new for) 1965 power antenna. Power windows replace the original equipment hand-crank windows. With the intention to use the ’65 in motorsport competition, Collier equipped the ’65 with a rollcage, fire extinguisher and five-point safety belts. The rollcage was custom-fabricated and installed by Street Shop.
Quoting from an early C2 Corvette brochure, “One of the best criteria applied to a true sports car is its ability to grip the road.” Adding power steering, a Detroit Speed Inc., rack-and-pinion is operated by means of a polished Flaming River 1963-’67 Corvette tilt steering column. Street Shop equipped the suspension and brakes with QA1 coilover shocks and Wilwood brakes boosted with a Hydratech hydraulic assist system.
As fiberglass ages on a Corvette body the more it becomes like a giant eggshell. Couple that brittleness with decades of customizing fads and maladroit drivers unable to handle the horsepower and it’s a near miracle that Collier’s ’65 body is absolutely hit-free. The only major fiberglass work necessary was where Street Shop opened the rear wheelwells to accept bigger meats and the interior floor to accommodate the rollcage.
In keeping with Collier’s desire to retain its original aura, Bill Johnson of Springhill, Tennessee, custom-painted the ’65 in Ermine White, spraying four coats of PPG base color and then burying those under eight coats of PPG clear. Custom painting using a stock color means Johnson spent a tremendous amount of time on bodywork and prep, gapping the hood and doors far beyond St. Louis’ quality. Cody Johnson, Bill’s son, handled wiring the car.
Street Shop did the mockup on Collier’s ’65 Corvette, and then the car went to Bill Johnson where it was disassembled and painted. For final assembly, and to incorporate intricate attention to detail, Collier reassembled the ’65 at his home shop to appear as it does here.
The first time out on an autocross track at Bowling Green the throttle stuck wide-open, but Collier was able to keep it out of the concrete wall. A minor adjustment and a second shot at speed, Collier ran the ’65 up to 155 mph on the back straight at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) and hasn’t stopped competing at road courses and racetracks ever since.
Photos by Stephen Kim