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1969 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - All Unto Itself

Ambiguity Isn't This Unique '69's Strong Suit

Kevin Shaw Aug 1, 2005
Corp_0508_01_z 1969_chevrolet_corvette_convertible Right_view 2/1

It's said a prophet is never accepted in his hometown, and in the case of Jerry Brandli's Corvette, he can agree. He found the battered '69 sitting dormant on a lawn in Battle Creek, Michigan, needing more work than he was willing to put into it. But he had a vision of where he wanted to go with the Corvette that few, including his wife, Kelly, believed until they saw it with their own eyes.

Jerry, under the watchful eye of his three-year-old son Shawn, sought to resurrect the beat-up '69. The entire car was disassembled, tagged, and bagged, as the weak fiberglass body was lifted from the chassis. The frame too was disassembled, and it was sandblasted, zinc-primered, and painted with several coats of heavy urethane marine paint. All new bushings, clips, and pins were used to rebuild the suspension, and all-new four-wheel disc brakes would stop the shark cold on its BFG-wrapped Cragars.

Jerry confesses that the original plumbing was too far gone to salvage. New lines were run along the frame as the tattered body was reworked and gelcoated. Rewarded with a near-pristine body, Jerry pondered about his paint scheme. Take into mind that this was 1984, and styling cues were a little less reserved than today. Jerry wanted to use a combination of high-intensity colors with rich textures. What he got was a combination of iridescent red, crimson, and maple metallic.

Wanting a bit of contrast with the paint scheme, Jerry chose a sultry saddle leather interior. New door panels, carpet, seat covers, and convertible top were installed by Jerry, as was everything else on this project. New glass was carefully laid in place, finishing off the cabin.

Next was the single most important step of the build-the engine. Jerry chose the venerable Chevrolet 350 small-block, which was bored .040 over. He installed the stock Chevy crank and rods with TRW 9.25:1 pistons for a streetable, pump-gas motor. An Edelbrock .488-lift hydraulic roller cam was put into place, which let the beautifully polished Edelbrock top end shine. Brightly polished aluminum heads with a complete Crane roller rocker setup flows from an equally polished Edelbrock Air-Gap intake manifold topped with a Holley 650. An MSD Blaster 2 coil helps regulate the spark with the aid of a Delco distributor. A Muncie four-speed knocks through the 3.55 posi as large Hooker side-mount headers expel the fumes through 4-inch collectors.

Jerry took on this project alone, with the intention of doing more than showing it off. He drives it relentlessly, taking it to every event and show from Daytona Beach to the Route 66 Motortour in 1990. The car has been seen frequently at the MIS raceway, St. Ignace, and around town. Jerry's handmade Corvette is the culmination of hard work, determination, sweat, elbow grease, and a clear vision.

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