One thing you need to understand about Dennis and Cheryl Huntley, ofSpringfield, Oregon, is that they are true "hot rod" Corvette owners andbuilders: They just love having a Vette that's different from everyoneelse's. People love the Huntleys' cars for the time and effort they putinto each subtly stylish modification. Notice how many of the changeslook "factory" and help bring harmony to the overall design?
It all started for Dennis and Cheryl when they got married in a '57Corvette. Since then, they've owned seven other Corvettes of variousvintages, including a modified '71 that will appear in these pages inthe near future. In addition to their modified factory cars, theHuntleys recently began building a '57 custom based on a Jim Meyerchassis and a Corvette Central body. We've seen this project in personand expect it to be a real showstopper once completed.
The pair purchased our feature Vette-- originally a white-over-redcar--from a man who had parked it, oddly enough, in his office, rightnext to the sofa and TV. The man's wife wanted a new house, and Cheryland Dennis wanted the car. Bingo! A win-win deal was made.
For this project, it was Cheryl's job to choose and mix the exteriorpaint colors, select the interior color and style, pick out the wheels,and--most important--inspect Dennis' work. Dennis, meanwhile, performedthe body modifications and roughed-in the fiberglass. He also installedthe engine and running gear, and fabricated all the odds and endsrequired to make the project come together. "I call him the BracketBaron, and he calls me Inspector Number 1," says Cheryl.
The first thing Dennis did was pull the numbers-matching engine andstore it in the back of his garage. Next, he worked with Gary Stevenson,of Engine Research and Development, in Creswell, Oregon, to build a355ci small-block that would make 650 to 700 hp on pump gas. Thebalanced-and-blueprinted four-bolt 350 was bored 0.040 inch over andtreated to a forged crank, Manley rods, Keith Black 8.3:1 pistons, 202Dart aluminum heads, 2.02/1.60 valves, Comp Cams Magnum roller rockers,a Cloyes timing gear, and a custom-grind Comp camshaft. To provide asuitably outrageous look for the top of the motor, Dennis used a BlowerShop polished 6-71 blower with chrome 750-cfm Demon carbs and topped offwith a Mr. Gasket scoop. Ignition is an MSD unit with boost retard. Forthe exhaust system, Dennis employed silver-ceramic-coated Hooker headersthat dump into a 3-inch custom-bent system by Goofy's Mufflers, inSpringfield, Oregon. A Griffin aluminum radiator and dual 14-inchelectric fans from Summit were used to keep everything cool.
Next, Dennis bolted the engine to an NHRA-approved Lakewood bellhousingcontaining a Weber 12-inch clutch assembly. The transmission is a Muncieclose-ratio four-speed, plucked from a '68 Vette and topped off with aHurst shifter with reverse lockout.
The chassis features a stock front end with custom springs and '49-'50Chevy passenger-car spindles. This combination lowered the car 2 inches,providing a much more aggressive stance. A Master Power Brakes 11-inchdisc-brake kit with drilled rotors bolts to the stock passenger-carspindles. The factory rearend features Currie alloy axles and a hardenedring-and-pinion with a 4.56 gear ratio. The rear drum brakes use ceramicshoes, also from Master Power. The car rolls on modern Toyo tires(225/45ZR17 fronts and 285/40ZR18 rears) mounted on Boyd's Magnetowheels. Boyd liked the resulting look so much, he put the car in hiscatalog and on his Web site.
The original body was extensively modified, with shaved door handles andside mirrors, deletion of the chrome side moldings, and graphics(designed by the Huntleys themselves) added for contrast. The center ofthe hood was modified to close over the 6-71 polished blower, the bodywas nosed and decked, and the headlight rings and other bits werede-chromed and painted to match the car. Out back, the rear fenderopenings were flared, and the through-bumper rear exhaust tips werereplaced with blue-dot taillights. Even the rear license plate waslowered slightly.
According to the Huntleys, the most commonly asked question has to dowith the genesis of the car's spectacular paint color. Actually, Cherylmixed the toner and had Glenn Tumbleson, owner of House of Kustoms inSpringfield, spray it on an old fender. Next, she mixed the PPG PearlTangerine paint with help from the local PPG rep and had Glenn spraythis over the toner. This process happened two or three times, untilCheryl was happy with the finished color. It finally came down to ayellow toner, Pearl Tangerine basecoat, and finishing clear.
The modified interior, done in cream-colored leather, was fabricated andinstalled by Jon Lind Interiors, of Eugene. Dennis even repainted thedash to match. The Budnik steering wheel was wrapped in matchingleather, while the remaining stock gauge faces were painted to match thenew Auto Meter gauges in the dash. The unique trunk, designed by Dennisand Jon, features an under-floor tool kit covered in--you guessedit--matching leather. Dennis also modified the center console toaccommodate additional gauges and fan switches. The Blaupunkt soundsystem with custom speaker covers in the trunk features a hiddenantenna.
Do people like their car? The Pacific Northwest certainly seems to. TheHuntleys have taken 67 trophies in just 25 shows and even nabbed tophonors at a few highly recognized shows in the region.
"Maybe our car and a few other altered Corvettes have helped breakground for what is to come with modified Corvettes," says Cheryl. Thatmay be true, but one thing is for certain: The Huntleys' sensational '60will be a tough act to follow.