Subscribe to the Free

1969 Corvette - It's Only Money and Time

A small-block Vette that took a lot of both for its resurrection.

Wayne Ellwood Sep 18, 2007
Corp_0901_01_z 1969_corvette Front_view 2/15

Tim Walters grew up in a body shop, so the idea of restoring a '69 Corvette coupe didn't really frighten him. He'd done other cars in the past and this didn't really seem any different. Tim had done any number of cars both for his own use and for sale. But it wasn't until five years ago that he could see his way clear to buying a car that he had always wanted . . . a Corvette. So the hunt for the perfect '69 coupe began in earnest, and, in 2001, he found a car that would satisfy his needs.

It happened one day when a customer came through his brother's body shop and said he had seen a car that might be along the lines that Tim wanted. It was located in Portage, on the other side of Altoona, near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. So, together with his brother, they went to look at the car.

The Vette didn't look that bad right off, but closer examination revealed the car had been hit and the front fenders were replaced with '73-style parts. There was some other damage too. But the frame and windshield pillars were straight and solid. There was no rust. On balance, Tim thought they could fix it.

Over the next few years, work proceeded as time and money allowed. The first thing to do was strip the car. During this process, the "matching-numbers" aspect was confirmed. Next the front fenders were replaced with original GM parts, as were all the other pieces requiring replacement. The only real problem encountered in this process was the fact that the '69 model year seemed to suffer from a lot of running changes. There can be wide variances in how the cars are dressed-out. Expansion tanks, hood insulators, vacuum canisters, fan shrouds, and the like, will vary between cars. So, whatever came on the car was taken to be correct.

Corp_0901_08_z 1969_corvette 350_engine 9/15

With an 11:1 compression ratio, the available 350 hp provide more than adequate for most applications.

The engine was free-turning when Tim acquired the car, but it was entirely rebuilt to the original 11:1 compression ratio. The rear axle ratio is 3.73:1 and it was also rebuilt. For the short term, an Edlebrock carburetor was installed on the car, but the original Rochester is currently being rebuilt.

So what did Tim get for his time and effort? Well, it's an all-new low option car with only power windows, tilt-telescoping steering column, sidepipes, and the 350hp 350ci engine with close-ratio four-speed transmission as factory options. A Corvette that stands out in the middle of a crowd.

Tim did all the work himself, except for the paint and polishing the original stainless. The suspension was restored with new (OEM) parts. Brakes and brake lines were supplied by Bair. The new chrome covers for the sidepipes were acquired from Paragon; the original fiberglass insulators were re-used. The Gun Metal vinyl interior came from Corvette America. The Cortez Silver paint and most polishing were done by his brother, Kurt Walters, in his "Body Builders" shop in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. The chrome bumpers and stainless windshield trim and T-bar were done by Bruce Dell, Dell Metal Polishing in Ohio. All-in-all, the project took about 3 years.

Speaking of the options, Tim's photos, taken during the restoration, tell an interesting story. There are two sets of crayon marks on the footwell part of the firewall, one on each side. On the passenger side is the number "300" (the build sequence) which is scribbled out. This is replaced with "299." On the driver side are the letters "PS" and "PB," also scribbled out. Apparently, the next car down the line was to receive power steering and power brakes, but not number "299." Looking back, it's probably too bad that they discovered the error. Tim says the manual steering and brakes can be a bit of a chore. On the other hand, he also says it's worth the effort once you get the car rolling through those twisty back roads. The removable back window and flow-through ventilation make the car a comfortable place to live. And the power of the engine is more than adequate.

Future plans include more minor detailing of the engine compartment and re-installing the shoulder harnesses, which have now been rebuilt by SeatBelt Sity. The car is not intended for NCRS judging, although it certainly looks like a guaranteed Top Flight, but it will be taken to local shows and enjoyed.



Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

sponsored links

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print