1964 Chevrolet Corvette - A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Pieces

How to turn a disassembled '64 into an LS6-equipped Editor's Choice winner

Christopher R. Phillip Mar 29, 2007 0 Comment(s)
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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what happens when you have a thousand bits of a disassembled Corvette and need to put the classic vehicle back together? Do you throw your hands up in woeful desperation, thinking there are just too many pieces? Do you look back to the original schematics and recreate a factory-correct dream?

Or maybe you design a Corvette unlike the factory ever did-a vintage C2 roadster with the best in C5 engine technology and the race-bred underpinnings of a '96 C4. A miscreation, you say? No, brethren VETTE readers, it is a Corvette masterpiece.

For George Crawford, of Aiken, South Carolina, there was no room for doubt when he built his '64 custom. George has been a fan of Chevrolet's Corvette since he worked hard for his first brand-new hardtop in 1969. That's 38 years he's been part of the Vette family.

George loves the look of midyear cars. To him, the midyear embodies the true spirit of an American sports car. Starting in 1997, George and his wife, Dee, talked about building themselves a dependable, first-class classic Corvette that could be driven anywhere-and comfortably. George wanted his Corvette to have the feel and dependability of a C5 and-even more importantly-all of the style and looks of a midyear.

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As a dentist, George is trained in making people's teeth beautiful. So, when George embarked upon his C2 project, he built the car in much the same way a dentist would build a perfect set of teeth. He started with the realization that even the toughest project (and his was to be pretty tough) was attainable, thanks to his mastery of the skills required. Then he called in a highly respected specialist who built a framework upon which the project was based.

At this point, we should introduce Jamison's Custom Corvette-the specialist in our story. This well-known, Charleston-based Corvette shop focuses on full restorations, as well as the sale of its own tubular chassis for midyear Corvettes. The chassis is designed for the express purpose of bolting any and all C4 suspension, brake, rearend, and tire/wheel components onto a C2 chassis. The chassis fits all original C2 body mounts without alteration or modification.

What George loves about Jamison's is the quality of the shop's workmanship. Twenty-five years earlier, he had his very first Corvette painted there. Even now, people come up to George and ask him if the paint job is new. George thinks that's a huge compliment, and it's the main reason he entrusted Jamison's with his '64 project.

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George met up with John Jamison, the shop's owner and founder, at a show in Orlando, Florida. George was pleased to see that John had introduced what was then a newly developed product-his C2 tube chassis. Upon talking to John, George determined the proprietary tube-chassis design was exactly what he wanted to provide the framework for his project.

While sticking a tube chassis under a rare midyear Corvette might be anathema to some, Kerry Jamison (John's son and a partner in the business) is quick to point out the combination's advantages. "We won't try to deter a purist. However, if we have a customer who wants a car that has better handling, better ride quality, and modern performance, then the C2 tube chassis is the only way to go. We have incredible adjustability with coilover shocks to match either the stock C2 height and ride measurements or accommodate drivers who want an aggressive package for motorsports."

The engineering of the Jamison's chassis started with a close look at the suspension design of the C4 Corvette. Using drawn-over-mandrel (DOM) tubing, a wheelbase of 98 inches (matching that of the C2 Corvette) was designed and prototyped, making sure the geometry was identical to that of the '63-'67 Vette chassis. It was also crucial that all C4 suspension, brake, and wheel components could be bolted on.

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Next, the C2 body mounts were integrated into the chassis design. In the front section of the frame, multiple mounting locations were designed to accommodate a choice of engines and transmissions, from vintage to modern to a combination of the two. Jamison's tested the design, and when finally satisfied, began producing the chassis for customer use.

When George Crawford brought his '64 to Jamison's, it was in pieces-a thousand of them. Over the previous 10 years, George had been keeping tabs on a '64 Corvette sitting in a friend's garage. The friend always talked about performing a restoration on the Vette, but the car sat in the garage until his wife cornered him with threats of selling it. To her, it was like a bad tooth: She wanted it pulled. Thankfully, George's friend knew he was a dentist. In the end, George was called to "extract" the Corvette.

George laughs when he recalls taking the disassembled Corvette to Jamison's. He knew that Jamison's was known for national-award-winning paint jobs, but he had no idea how the Vette would turn out mechanically. "I didn't know how it was going to drive, but it was sure going to look super," he says.

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