Once Paul got the car home, it became apparent it needed a major overhaul. First on the list were the rear arches, which had been held in place by pieces of plywood. Paul's friend, Chris, removed the arches, straightened and extended the bodywork by 3 inches, then pieced everything back together, this time sans roofing materials. The finished car was painted Azure Blue, and a set of billet wheels was added to complete the job.
Paul then replaced the original 327 with a 427 motor from another friend, Fodi, who had just upgraded his own modified Capri to a 502 lump. Luck was on Paul's side, and the 427 matched the Vette's manual gearbox. He added a set of Hooker headers, side pipes, an MSD LS6 ignition, and a custom aluminum dash with a full set of Auto Meter gauges.
A couple of summers later, while driving to North Weald, Paul "got a bit carried away" and blew the Vette's motor. "Naturally, I decided a full mechanical spruce-up was needed," he says. "I ordered a new custom-built 540-cubic-inch block from Smax Smith, with Edelbrock alley [Brit slang for "aluminum"] heads and a King Demon carb. Then the entire kit was sent off to Kenny Coman to be dyno tested."
So, what did it turn out? "It was producing 700 hp and 632 lb-ft of torque at 6,200 rpm, and at 3,500 rpm it pushed out 420 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque," he says, smiling like a Cheshire cat. Finally, Paul replaced the manual gearbox with a Turbo 400 equipped with a manual valvebody, also built by Smax.
With the powertrain modifications taken care of, Paul turned his attention to the rest of the running gear. He took his Vette to yet another friend, Clive, who works at Prism Motor Sport. There, the complete system was upgraded, starting with a 9-inch Mere's LSD and extending to Wilwood inboard brakes; independent shafts with billet hubs, crossmember, and coilovers; A-arms with a single leaf spring; custom-built Leda shocks; billet hubs; and Aerospace front brakes. The original steering column was also removed in favor of a power rack-and-pinion setup.
To cool the engine, Paul fitted a Mallory electric water pump and a Be Cool radiator with twin electric fans. An electric accumulator was added to prime the block with oil for cold starts. The engine's wiring was tidied up with aircraft hoses and fittings to better match the attention to detail Clive had maintained throughout the build. The last thing to do was fit an exhaust, which came in the shape of a modified 211/48-into-411/42-inch collector feeding a 5-inch side pipe.
Because of the tall block and King Demon carb, Paul was unable to find an air filter that would fit under the Vette's hood. To overcome this, he called on another friend, also named Paul, who fabricated a power bulge to accommodate the big-block.
Over the years, Paul has had a number of American cars, including a pink '56 Cadillac, a '68 Mustang notchback restoration project, a black '72 Road Runner that was destroyed by a lorry, a '71 T-top Corvette, an '87 IROC Z, a '73 Z28 Camaro, and an '00 GT Mustang that Paul owned for a total of five hours before it was wrecked by a friend.
We asked Paul if he will ever get rid of his Vette. "No, mate. I mean, you can see I've had a lot of cars, plus some I haven't mentioned. I've had the Vette for 18 years now, and it's here to stay."