When a restoration takes up 9 1/2 years of a 10-year car ownership, youmight ask the question, "Why bother?"
Kim Walker, a bar-and-restaurant owner in Muncy, Pennsylvania, answersthis query with an enthusiastic response of, "For enjoyment." Yes, Kimknows what he wants in a Corvette, and when he had the chance to shootfor the moon, he took the first rocket headed in his direction.
Kim wasn't looking for a new project car back in early 1995, but when hespied a '68 Stingray while perusing Hemmings Motor News, he decided toact fast. For Kim, the car was the ideal platform for building hisvision of what a Corvette should be--a vintage-road-racer replica. Kimhas owned around 10 Corvettes of various vintages, and found this newestaddition not far from his residence, in nearby Allentown. Thealmost-basket-case '68 came with a 427 and a price tag that reflectedthe car's overall condition. In 1995 dollars, the $4,400 ticket foradmission was nearly too much, but the desire for a proper projectfoundation proved to be overwhelming. By the end of the day, the"roller" was loaded onto a trailer and taken to its new home.
Breaking the Vette open (almost literally) the first chance he got, Kimunearthed enough of the original parts to recoup his investment. Gonewere the carburetor, intake, 427/400 drivetrain, and everything elsethat was or wasn't bolted down. After all, he wouldn't need it: Thistrip into space required light packing. Armed with a nearly bare shell,Kim went looking for a restoration shop with the fine-tuned ability tohandle a project of this magnitude. In the fall of the first year, GaryHagan of Classic Auto Restoration rose to the challenge and began a10-year odyssey.
While Gary slaved away on the body, Kim busied himself locating amultitude of period-correct components. As his collection of Greenwoodbody pieces, GM headlights, and wheels grew, the '68 road racer nearedcompletion. Then a small snag was encountered during the search forvintage fender flares. Since most owners intend to keep theirspermanently attached to their cars, finding matching parts proved to bea problem. That's where Advanced Composite Products of Harrisburg,Pennsylvania, stepped in. Digging through their old molds, the guys atAdvanced uncovered a proper set and produced a complete run especiallyfor Kim's Corvette. When it finally came time to incorporate a 5-pointroll bar, frame bracing, and a 545hp big-block (with 570 lb-ft oftorque), Kim could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
As is so often the case, this was when disaster struck. With the carnearly ready to roll out of the shop, Gary lost a long-time battle withcancer and passed away in June of 2004. The final fabrication and wiringwere completed by friends Stroud Marris and Andy Dapp, while Ross' Autoand Body in Harrisburg took care of the final touch-up and buffing.
His dream Vette now complete, Kim drives and shows the car in memory ofhis good friend Gary Hagan. Yes, this is definitely one for the road.
Car: '68 Stingray
Owner: Kim M. Walker
Engine Builder: Lewis Johnson of Johnson Machine; Muncy, PA
Block: GM 454 with .060 overbore
Displacement: 468 cubic in
Compression Ratio: 10.25:1
Heads: World Products Merlin, ported cast iron
Valves: World Products, 2.190 intake/1.880 exhaust
Valve Springs: Lunati
Camshaft: Lunati roller, .595-in lift; duration @ .050 in: 244*
Rocker Arms: Crane Gold roller, 1.7 ratio
Pistons: KB Silvolite
Crankshaft: Stock steel GM with Fluidampr, harmonic and internally balanced
Rods: GM steel
Intake Manifold: World Products Dual Plane
Carburetor: 850 Holley Bill Mitchell
Distributor: MSD Pro Billet
Ignition: MSD 6AL with wires and coil
Exhaust System: 21/8-in Hooker side-mounts
Muffler: 4-in Hooker
Transmission: Muncie M-22 with blow-proof bellhousing
Clutch / Pressure Plate: Hays
Chassis: Stock GM
Front Suspension: VB&P
Rear Suspension: VB&P
Rearend: GM Posi, 3.73:1
Shocks: Carrera adjustable, front and rear
Brakes: Vette Brakes & Products stainless steel calipers, GM pads
Wheels: American 200S
Tires: BFG T/A Radials, 245/60-15 front; 295/50-15 rear