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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Jamison's Custom Corvette, meanwhile, knew exactly how the tube-chassis '64 Vette would ride, handle, and perform. Jamison's had already built a complement of turnkey Corvettes featuring the C2 tube chassis, and all of the company's customers had been pleased. John and Kerry could clearly see how the dismantled pieces would come together and make a picture-perfect Corvette. There was no guesswork.

Kerry tells VETTE that like all the shop's C2 conversions, the George Crawford project started with the tube chassis first. Jamison's then added brand-new components originally manufactured for the '96 Corvette: A-arms, coilover springs, rear differential and axles, brakes, wheels, and tires. Although chassis components from any C4 will function properly on the C2 tube chassis, Jamison's prefers the longer A-arms and more-modern hardware of the '95 and '96 models.

Once a rolling chassis was assembled, George contacted Street & Performance of Mena, Arkansas. The shop delivered a brand-new drivetrain for the '64 Vette, consisting of an '04 LS6 motor, an LS6 wiring harness and engine-control unit, and a T56 six-speed transmission. Air-conditioning and power-steering parts were ordered from Vintage Air of San Antonio, Texas, and mated to the powertrain.

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Kerry Jamison tells us the tube-chassis design allowed George to choose from a variety of powertrain options, including traditional Chevy small-block and modern LS engines in either carbureted or EFI form. Transmission choices are even more extensive, including four-speed Muncies and Borg-Warners; contemporary five- and six-speeds; and Turbo 400, 700R4, and 4L60E automatics.

Jamison's next step was to custom-build a 211/44-inch, steel driveshaft to fit the unorthodox combination; then exhaust headers and pipes were fabricated and installed into the tight spaces of the tube chassis before the body was attached. A custom gas tank was built by Jamison's, and the fuel and brake lines were fabricated, hung, and tightened.

Days ticked by slowly for George. It was like waiting for braces to straighten misaligned teeth. Finally, two years later, the day came. The rolling chassis was ready for its '64 body. The Vette was lowered and bolted into place, its mounting positions perfectly matching the tube chassis.

Jamison's then went to work on the car's award-winning finish. John Jamison says that every paint job performed by the shop is a show-stopper. Jamison's uses Dupont paint in a urethane/clearcoat combination and then wet-sands the result to a mirror-like shine. The color chosen by George to grace the Corvette's body is '93-'04 Corvette Torch Red, accented with subtle ghost flames. The paintwork is designed to look just as grand 25 years from now as it did on its first day.

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After the Vette was painted, the interior work got underway. George had Jamison's use the seats from a '94 Corvette and sheath them in '94 red leather; hen '64 Corvette emblems were embroidered into the headrests.

The gauges were deliberately left vintage-style, but to bring back a factory-new appearance, they were refaced with original needles. The two changes made to the gauge cluster were important to George. First, the ammeter was converted to a voltmeter; second, the mechanical tachometer was upgraded using electronic parts. The door panels, headliner, carpet, and interior trim followed-all brand new and in a matching red color.

Kerry Jamison says the 405hp LS6 engine was a great idea. "It's got more power than the car can hold. It's an enjoyable car to drive. When you compare it to the original car, the lower-rpm driving speed makes it much more comfortable."

George laughs when asked if he and Jamison's Custom Corvette have out-built the factory. "Oh, the C6 is an incredible engineering feat, but I'll tell you this-my car draws a lot more attention than any C6." Does George feel he's built the ultimate Corvette? "Probably pretty close," he says. "It's the ultimate for the old-style look."

Kerry Jamison calls the stunning work on George's '64 a "standard job-but with unbelievable winning results." The car nabbed Best Paint Job at the Coastal Carolina Corvette Club show in Aiken and continues to win accolades in every show it enters. George is especially proud of the fact that his '64 won the VETTE magazine Editor's Choice award at the 2006 Year One Experience car show held at Road Atlanta.

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In fact, George was so tickled-pleased with his tube-chassis C2, he participated in the 2006 Hot Rod Power Tour, driving from Aiken to Orlando, up to Englishtown, New Jersey, and back home without incident.

And-wouldn't you know it?-George Crawford has already commissioned a second C2 custom. This time, the candidate is a '65. What's going to be different? "Not much," George says. "Maybe we'll put an LS7 into this one. Maybe we'll add a split window. Maybe we'll add some flares on the rear wheels."

And what about the previous owner, the man whose wife wanted the Vette out of the garage? "He couldn't believe it was the same car," George says. "It was beyond his wildest expectations. He's real happy." And the wife? George laughs again, "She was the one who wanted the junk out of her garage. Wait till I go by and show her."

Before we could ask him any more questions, George had to go. He had to listen to his favorite song-the sound of the engine rumbling through the vintage off-road side pipes of his '64 Corvette. We weren't about to keep him waiting.

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