Isn't this the reddest Midyear you've ever seen? A lot of folks, especially those with crimson-hued Top Flight winners may disagree. But, if Jerry Heasley's photos are any indication, this one glows like a lit taillight when the sun hits its finish. "I spent about 200 hours with a random-orbital buffer on that body," says its owner, Dave Laney. "The more I worked on that paint, the deeper and more metallic it appeared," he says of the House of Kolor Cimarron Red that covers its original fiberglass.
That attention to the body and paint is one aspect of this car that Dave changed, upgraded, or made perfect in his way. When he bought it, it already had the 502-inch Mark IV big-block in it and that red finish on it. But it wasn't quite done...yet. "When I got it, it was about 65-70 percent of what you see there," Dave recalls from his Lenexa, Kansas, home. "A friend of mine, Tom Russell, performed top-gun wrenching abilities on the suspension. It's a full Vette Brakes & Products (VBP) C2X suspension kit that I had chromed."
But, chrome wasn't a surface-finish option that VBP offered. "When I called them up to order it, they asked me what color I wanted to powdercoat it. I said, 'I don't want it powdercoated, I just want it in bare steel. I said, 'I'm going to chrome it-everything except for the carbon-fiber springs.'" Dave called on Bubb, Harry, and Dale at A&A Plating in nearby Independence, Missouri, and their work resulted in the dazzling chassis hardware you see under this C2.
But Dave wasn't done. "I added the Flaming River stainless steel tilt column and their 'Waterfall' steering wheel, which was new at the time," he says. "I also took an NOS '65 horn button and adapted it to that steering wheel."
One interior feature took some outside help to figure out how to put on-the five-point belts that hold you into the restored stock bucket seats. Dave called on Larry Barnett of Star Chassis, a shop that makes NHRA-certified drag race chassis, to help him devise a way to anchor those belts without cutting fiberglass or welding on the frame. "I did some research and found that I could go into the birdcage, which is the only steel other than the frame," he says. "I figured if I could get into it and build a plate, bracket, and harness bar that fits in there, that would suffice." Dave had autocrossed a '65 Sting Ray coupe called "Smokum" in the '70s and wanted something that made him feel more secure in a 600-horsepower convertible.
The result was a computer-designed bar, located aft of the seats, that was ready a few weeks later. There's also a bar under each seat where the "anti-submarining" strap anchors, which, like the shoulder-belt anchorages, is a bolt-on item that's easily removed to get the '65 back to stock if desired. "Larry had the one-piece bar installed, and he said, 'I spent about 85 percent of my time on the computer doing 3-D modeling of this thing, and 15 percent of the time actually doing the welding. I cut it once, I welded it once, and it works!'" Dave wanted Larry to make some more for friends with drop-top C2s but Larry stopped that by pointing out that he had to "custom-tailor" them, taking six hours just to do the needed measurements. "Larry said, 'If I make those, none of them will fit their cars, because every convertible has settled differently."
Dave doesn't foresee restoring this one to stock, especially under the hood. That's where a 454, bored-and-stroked to 502 cubic inches, resides. As mentioned above, Dave figures that the dual-quad-equipped big-block is good for 600 horsepower, but not many miles per gallon. "There are two 650-cfm Carter competition mechanical-linkage four-barrels on it," he says. "The very first time that I figured out how much mileage I was getting, I drove it to a Corvette show in Liberty, Missouri, which is about 36 miles from my house. It's all highway, and I was in fifth gear all the way at 70 mph." When he got home, he thought his gas gauge was broken. It wasn't-Dave had used over 3/4 of a tank to go 72 miles!" The upside of that engine: "Unbelieveable acceleration," as Dave puts it.
It's got a functioning sound system that's music to his ears-disguised as a side-mount exhaust system. Sanderson "block hugger" headers flow into custom-made collectors and tubing under stock sidepipe covers, but the openings face outward, instead of downward as on the factory setups. Dave says he doesn't know if the radio in the dash works, as he never listens to it while underway.