Four seconds can be an eternity. On a quarter-mile strip, it's a little less than half the time most serious drag racers would like their Corvettes to run. And, not unlike those other owners, cutting a similar amount off his car's stock e.t.'s was exactly what Jim Moore wanted to do-but on 93-octane fuel and without using nitrous. Though faced with a goal some might consider equal to scaling Everest without supplemental oxygen, Jim is undaunted. In fact, he stands ready to plant his flag-and his tires-to prove this lofty goal is reachable. But how did all of this come about? Surely not just "because it was there," as mountaineer George Mallory once famously quipped.
For Jim, a Magnolia, Texas, resident, this '67 represents the third midyear in a long list of high-performance Chevys. Jim's first Corvette, a '64, was bought right out of high school, in 1978. From there, he "went through" a '65, a '71, and, later, a C4. Jim even owned a 427 '68 RS/SS Camaro, but as he recalls, "It was 'life in the slow lane' with its 4.56 gears." Getting a case of convertible fever, Jim started looking for a nice C2 project. "They've always been my favorites," he told VETTE. "Mind you, I wasn't looking for a number-matcher, but I found most were being billed that way even though they weren't [original]." Originality didn't count here, as Jim wasn't going to have his ride's worthiness graded on a points system. What he wanted was power and reliability. Eventually, Jim found such a combination for sale near his then home in Colorado. With the owner's wife proclaiming, "It rides too rough," Jim bought the '67 and was in business.
After getting it home, Jim laid out his plans. "The goals for this car were to be fast and able to easily take cross-country trips." To start, the transplanted '71 Chevelle engine had to go, but the aftermarket fender flares stayed. "I like the look of them," says Jim. The interior was another matter, however. The previous owner had bought a new set, but decided the dash would look better in baby blue. "He had dyed the dash and almost everything else. So I had to strip it all out and start over." But, unlike the dash, the owner-applied paint job stayed, as did some of the car's mismatched trim. "It looks like he went through catalogs and just picked out the trim items and stuff he liked, whether it was correct for the year or not." So, until Jim gets around to recoloring his ride, he's stuck with some strange choices.
One thing Jim was not stuck with, however, was his choice of drivetrain equipment. Indeed, over the last 10 years, he's gone through several different combos. Starting with a frame-off, Jim acid-dipped the chassis and had it and the suspension pieces powdercoated. With the underpinnings rebuilt, Jim moved on to the rest of the car, eventually installing a 427 he'd owned for much longer than the Sting Ray. Along with a Doug Nash five-speed transmission, the engine could propel the car to a very capable 11.20 at 123 mph. The next upgrade was a 540-cuber rated at 732 hp. While that might have helped Jim to his goal, the rest of the Corvette's running gear wasn't as strong as the engine, and a new rearend was soon needed.
While looking through some old magazines, Jim discovered that several Super Stock Corvettes originally ran a Dana 60 IRS. Locating an N.O.S. Hemi piece that hadn't even had the axle tubes pressed in, Jim handpicked a set of gears from the tall side of the scale-3.07s. "The [numerically] lowest I could find for the Dana 60 were 3.54s, but I wanted much less to complement my Viper-hunting ability," Jim tells us. "So I modified a set from a Dana 61 to fit." When finished, the whole assembly bolted into place on the stock mounts. After a little reworking of the powerbands and a head porting, the results were in: 825 hp at 7,400 rpm. But with the new power came new problems. The car's Doug Nash tranny had reached its limits, so a G-Force GF5R was put in its place. This choice might seem a little hard-core at first, but as Jim says, "[The G-Force] is an incredible racing trans that, despite having 'face tooth' engagement sliders and no synchronizers, is still very streetable. With a little practice, up- or down-shifting is no issue, and it's a beautiful thing on a 7,000-plus-rpm power shift. I love it!"
With everything in place, Jim should by now have reached his goal of breaking into the 9s, right? Almost. Now in the low 10s, Jim is, in his words, "so close it's almost sickening!" At the end of the '05 racing season, he installed a new adjustable McLeod Soft Lok clutch assembly and some 1.8 rockers that will bump his lift to 0.774. "I'm sure this is going to be the ticket to a deep-9-second e.t.," Jim tells us. "The mph indicates I have the power to be in the 9.6-to-9.8 range . . . I just have to hook it up smoother. A clutch that slips a little and is adjustable is the key to making it all work."
Looking over Jim's car, one immediately notes the lack of NHRA-mandated safety equipment. Asked about the apparent oversight, Jim just smiles and says, "I am limited to which tracks let me run because I lack a full rollcage. I really hate to cut up the car to install one because it really is a street cruiser most of the time." And that's exactly what it is: just a little pump-gas cruiser-an "almost 9-second" one at that.
Special thanks to wife Karen and daughter Leyla for their support over the years; to Pat Topolinski, Casey Snider, and Judson Massengill at the School of Automotive Machinists (Houston); and, most importantly, to Jim's father who was always willing to push the car's limits at 140 mph.