1963 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster - Paint It Blue

Something Old, Something New, Mix Together

Rob Wallace III Jan 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

The next task was the wiring. Typical of today's computerized cars, the collection of Grand Sport wiring harnesses looked like a giant snake pit. Nonetheless, Ron dove in and unwrapped each, removing any unneeded systems (like the rear window defroster). Feeling particularly creative, he reworked the C4 rear hatch release into an electric hood release for the mid-year. He also fabricated the underbody wiring harness to include such things as a "radio ground plane" under the rear deck and left rear fender, the '96 power antenna, and much more.

The hood began as a '67 427-style piece, but had to be completely reworked. First, Austin sectioned the scoop and moved it forward about 10 inches in order to clear the alternator. The inner structure was also revised to provide clearance for the A/C components and radiator fill tank. The hinges had to be relocated forward to allow for radiator and air cleaner clearance when the hood is open. Ron also built one of the '96 under-hood lights into the underside. Both inner fenders were given access panels, to allow access to some of the many new components.

In keeping with the Grand Sport theme, Ron installed a repro '63 GS nose and headlight system, with pieces from Timeless Replicas in Texas. He also fabricated a functional air dam to get air into the lower portion of the '96 radiator and A/C condenser. He flared the fenders to fit the '96 GS wheels, which are wearing 315/35ZR17 tires on all four corners, and then widened the rear quarters a couple of inches at the bottom of each side so the GS exhaust tips could be used. The car also has a built-in receiver-type trailer hitch concealed behind the drop-down license plate.

The mid-year/C4 hybrid is painted in the '96 GS color scheme, with the solitary exception of the thin white stripes, which Ron made red, as they were on the original Grand Sports. It also has a black convertible top using C4-type material. The car has all the '96 factory electronics systems, including a full factory security system (with a few added twists), six-way power seats, and even the '96 power/heated mirrors. Ron transferred every piece from the Grand Sport that was applicable to the '63, and everything works!

Due to the extensive body and chassis modifications Ron made, he had to have the car inspected by the California Highway Patrol before it could be registered. After wading through tons of paperwork, the CHP assigned Ron's creation the full, 17-digit '96 Grand Sport VIN number, which means that GS#300 is still alive and well, although in an extremely different form. GM has even recognized Ron's car in a recent recall for '96 LT4 rocker arms!

Ron, with the support and understanding of his wife Donna, spent three years building this car in his garage, not allowing anyone but family and a few close friends to see the Vette before it was completed. "I didn't want anybody to have to visualize what it would be like, just in case it didn't come out the way I intended," Ron said. But the project turned out exactly as he had planned after all. Ron now has an completely "factory stock" '63/'96 Grand Sport that he and his wife have found to be extremely fun, comfortable, and economical to drive anywhere, having put over 1,200 miles on the clock since the car's unveiling this last June. And the Vette has been warmly accepted for what it is by GS owners, old and new alike. As far as Ron is concerned, the license plate says it all: "GS96N63".


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