Some people like show cars for their craftsmanship, glossy shine, and flawless detailing. Others like show cars the same way they like looking at a piping-hot steak on a plate. They don't ponder too long before tearing into it, savoring every bit. Ron Johnson doesn't like to stare longingly at his steak; he likes to eat it, and so it is with his beautifully customized '67 midyear. This glistening inky-black roadster looks the part of a show-stopper and is anything but a pampered poodle. The Rockwall, Texas, native isn't known for his cautious driving prowess but rather for standing on the skinny pedal while letting the tires wail.
Though easily considered one of the single-most desirable Corvettes produced, a big-block-powered '67 convertible wasn't enough to satisfy Ron's needs for performance. Answering an advertisement from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Ron discovered the drop-top Vette had been preserved well, living most of its life in a garage and in decent, restored condition. Undoubtedly, the previous owner was slightly saddened when the Texan exchanged keys for currency and drove back west in the black roadster. Almost immediately upon his arrival back home, Ron began gathering up various restoration pieces, intent on returning the car back to its former glory.
It was during the process of tearing down the '67 to the frame that Ron befriended the motorheads at Corvette Corner, Rich Koehler and David Mullins, who explained that a '67 roadster is just a regular, old roadster that everybody either has or lusts for, but most don't know it can be so much more. Intrigued, Ron handed over the roadster and all of its bits and pieces. Corvette Corner in Rowlett, Texas, then contacted Paul Newman's Car Creations and purchased one of its modified '77 C3 chassis. The modded frame was coupled to a full '86 suspension using a C4 rack-and-pinion, IRS, and front geometry.
Baer discs (13 and 12 inches, front and back, respectively) bring the roadster to a skidding stop. Corvette Corner also swapped out the original Dana 36 for a newly cast Car Creations Dana 44 with new 3.77:1 ratio gears, making hazing the back 18-inch meats a cinch. QA1 coilovers ensure a smooth and stable ride, while a Flaming River column spins the rack. An Ecklers '66 hood replaced the factory bonnet as a pair of reengineered Car Creations quarter-panels-1 1/2 inches wider to accept larger rolling stock-were installed before the body was sent off to Randy Fawks in Royce City, Texas, where the body was coated in DuPont black over and over again. Once the hue looked three miles deep, the rolling roadster was sent back to Corvette Corner for the interior install.
The C4 gave up its bucket seats that were recovered in black leather before being bolted to the floorboards. Super clean and mostly restored, the cabin was made cozy and tight while still comfortable. A Grant wheel with an Audio Sound stereo backed by Kenwood speakers stood in for creature comforts. Auto Meter gauges replaced the factory dials but with modern carbon-fiber faces reading off the vitals. No power trickery here; it's all basic with roll-up windows, a small A/C system, and a manual top. All the modern gadgetry would be saved for underneath the hood.
Ron had owned Corvettes before, including two '01s, a convertible, a Z06, and an '05. The Z06 was built and enjoyed some driving time as Ron's daily mule, but when it came time to offload the Z, he held onto the built and bored LS6. Now with his '67 needing a powerplant, Ron turned his eyes on the lonely 383 in need of a home. The engine was sent to Metro Machine where the block was filled with an Eagle crank and rods, Diamond 11:1 slugs, a Crane roller camshaft, Dart Pro 1 aluminum heads, Crane springs, and a FAST intake breathing through a 90mm throttle body.
The stock LS6 manifolds worked just fine so they were plumbed into the chambered, custom side pipes made to simulate the stock '67 pipes. A sure-fire Tremec TKO 600 manual five-speed from Keisler chirps the tires in nearly every gear when Ron rows the Hurst shifter. Though a timeslip bragging a best quarter-mile time wasn't offered, a dyno read of 415 rwhp proves that this is one lethal combination. Ron has twice tinkered with the odometer (hey, he's not planning on selling it) and has totaled something like 600 miles since the build. Of course, that's all conjecture since he's more interested in having fun with his Vette-Rod than rubbing it with a chamois.