Some people enter their sixties with a sour attitude, crabby disposition, and a permanent frown. You know the type. But don't count Bernie and Betty Caesber of Sanford, Florida, among them. They don't have time for negative attitudes because they're too busy having fun with their '67 coupe.
Look at it. Doesn't it call out to you to come, drive, and enjoy? If you have any enthusiasm for America's sports car, it has to trigger a response. This Corvette is all about fun. Big fun. Clutch and shift fun. Hang a monster corner fun. Nail the gas pedal and listen to that engine sing fun. That's our kind of fun.
Bernie Caesber knows that "Corvette" and "fun" are words that should be used together. He's even got "67 Fever" on the license plate of his '67. Bernie has enough "old school" in him to remember when Corvettes were a favorite choice of rodders, racers, and customizers, so he wasn't afraid to put some personal touches on his '67 coupe. He bought this numbers-matching 427 with a Powerglide transmission in 1997. "Soon after the purchase," Bernie tells us, "I changed the car."
Out came the factory 400hp 427, which was sent for a rebuild. In its place, Bernie took a 300hp 327 and built it to 365hp specs, with a solid lifter cam and a single Holley 4V on an aluminum high-rise intake. To improve exhaust flow, he added a set of late-model Corvette shorty headers with the air injector fittings plugged. The headers were ceramic coated and connected to the sidepipes. "The total package gives 'Fever' a great sound," Bernie says. The OEM Powerglide was replaced with a super-tough M22 Rock Crusher four-speed. "We plan to leave the four-speed in the car and store the original automatic transmission, shifter, console, and so on to put it back to factory at some later time." But as for now says Bernie, "I just like to shift."
The custom-made (custom offset and backspace), polished aluminum, 17-inch American Torq-Thrust II wheels look spectacular on the '67 and improve the Corvette's road manners a lot. Bernie says, "I replaced the original '67 wheels. I have approximately 16.5 hours of polishing time per wheel with an air buffer to get that high shine. I'm running 245x45 BFGoodrich Comp TAs. By using this wheel size and setup, I didn't have to cut the inside of the fenders to be able to tuck them in without rubbing. They make the car very stable with excellent tracking." At rest or at speed, we have to admit they do look great.
when Bernie bought it, the lacquer on the car still looked pretty good, but was beginning to crack. there were some ". . . usual midyear spider cracks at the door. . . " that would need attention. The body was completely stripped chemically, and the seams between body panels were ground out and rebonded. Three coats of primer were sanded, and then a basecoat and four coats of clear were applied. "The finish was never sanded," says Bernie, "only buffed with a foam pad. The original Lynndale Blue color was used, but I had additional metallic added." He also added a bit of blue/green pearl. It gives the paint a lot of flip in different types of lighting situations.
As the interior was going back together, Betty discovered a bit of info hidden by an earlier owner. "My wife noticed some engraving inside the metal windshield trim," Bernie told us. "It actually had the date of a previous restoration (1973), plus the name, city, and state of that owner. I went on the internet and was able to locate the previous owner, who is still living in Batavia, Illinois. The gentleman remembered the car very well, and confirmed the 427-400hp Tri-Power and other options. In fact, he sent me a picture of him with the car when he owned it. He gave me the name and phone number of the man he sold it to. I was able to contact him, and he too verified his ownership and the car's options. This was a great find by my wife."
Inside are leather buckets as part of a teal blue interior. New seat covers and carpets were needed, but the dashpads are original. Factory air conditioning keeps the climate comfy in Florida's high humidity. Power steering, power brakes, power windows, and tinted glass all the way around add to the pleasure of taking the stylish coupe for a spirited spin.
"After a frustrating two-and-a-half-year restoration, it is a true pleasure to have '67 Fever back on the road for weekend cruises," Bernie says.
The greatest challenge in the restoration was having patience with the body shop's slow pace. But now that waiting is all behind them, and Bernie and Betty are enjoying the Corvette's many virtues.
At our photo shoot, Bernie told us he had the original 427 prepped for installation back into the Corvette, but was enjoying the lively small-block so much that he was in no hurry to convert it back to a 427. Sounds like a problem we'd all like to have. Polishing the fenders is all well and good, but there comes a time when you just have to jump in, spin the key, grab a few gears, and let the Corvette stretch its legs. That's the kind of fun that's just so infectious, like . . . well, a fever.