1964 Corvette Roadster - Ragtop Resuscitation

A Novice Restorer's First Project Brings Unexpected Success

Christopher R. Phillip Mar 1, 2008 0 Comment(s)
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History tells us that the base '64 Corvette convertible came equipped with a 327/250hp powerplant and retailed for $4,037. For a worthwhile investment of $53 or $107 more, an owner could increase the horsepower of his 327 to 300 or 365 hp, respectively. Jason Page, also of Toowoomba, took this data into consideration when he was hired on to do the restorative engine work. He and Bowen decided to keep the factory 327 in the Sting Ray, freshening it with a mild rebuild that included non-stock Chevy double-hump heads fitted with 2.02/1.60 valves. A hydraulic Crane stick thumps out a healthy hum with 218/222-degree duration, 0.443/0.450-inch lift, and a 110-degree lobe-separation angle.

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Fuel is supplied by an Edelbrock mechanical pump and inhaled by a Barry Grant 650-cfm carb atop a Weiand dual-plane alloy intake. Spark is routed from a GM HEI distributor to ACCEL 8.5 mm wires and NGK TR-55 plugs. Exhaust rumbles through 1 3/4-inch headers and into 2 1/2-inch reproduction Corvette side pipes.

The classic Vette uses a heavy-duty hydraulic clutch to direct power to an original Muncie M-20 gearbox and a 12-bolt Posi rear housing 3.70 gears. The front suspension features lowered coils, Koni adjustable shocks, and stock upper and lower control arms. The rear is fitted with lowered springs and two more adjustable Konis.

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The brakes have been upgraded at all four corners using heavy-duty calipers transplanted from a '65 Corvette, along with drilled-and-slotted 10-inch rotors. The road-capable Ray rides on 17-inch American Racing wheels wrapped in Bridgestone 225/55-17 rubber.

Moving to the cabin, Toowoomba's R&R Auto Upholsterers sewed reproduction vinyl into original-style seat covers, added new carpet, and rebuilt the speedometer, tach, and gauges. The dash, door panels, trim, hardware and convertible top were replaced with factory-correct reproductions. A Hurst Indy shifter, installed by Bowen, gives this classic sports car an interior aspect befitting its muscle-era origins.

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Bowen tells us the six-year restoration was a learning experience well worth the effort. At its very first showing in 2005, the Sting Ray took First Place in its class at the Queensland Corvette Club Concours. It followed that performance with a class win at the 19th Annual National Corvette Convention Gold Coast in 2007.

Surprisingly, breathing new life into a classic Corvette doesn't make Bowen feel like a front-page hero. Instead, he's just a proud owner who takes personal joy in what he has accomplished. "I wanted to have a unique car that would appreciate in value," he says. "But more than that, I wanted a car I could take to shows, club events, and weekend drives. I am very proud to have a classic American car that is one of only a small number in Australia.


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