1964 Chevrolet Corvette - Detail Oriented

Ron Emmons' '64 Resto-Rod Hides A Panoply Of High-Tech Touches

Paul Zazarine Jul 1, 2008 0 Comment(s)
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Corvettes represent much more than transportation to their owners. It's not about getting from Point A to Point B as much as it is about the fun in getting there. Because of the excitement and the memories of driving their cars, many Corvette enthusiasts hang on to their Vettes for decades, restoring or refurbishing them along the way. Some owners, like Ron Emmons, take a different route.

Ron and his girlfriend (now Mrs. Emmons) purchased a '64 Corvette back in 1991. "She loaned me some of the money to buy the car," he says, "later realizing any engagement prospects were gone, as I was now broke. I'm sure glad she loved the car. We used it for our wedding getaway!"

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The Vette was in good condition, and being a non-matching-numbers car, it was perfect for a daily driver. The Emmonses also discovered that it was a very early-production example. "It was manufactured on the third day of 1964 production," Ron says. "It's Number 232 [from September 6, 1963]; therefore, it has some '63 parts like rockers, gauges, glovebox, gas cap, etc."

Along with trips to the office and the grocery store, the couple took the car on excursions to Key West and the Smoky Mountains, with diving gear and camping equipment strapped on the back. Through the years, they maintained the '64 with thoughts of one day doing a total restoration. "When the frame broke in half while driving on I-75," Ron says, "we knew it was time to start the restoration process."

Ron had debated selling the Vette, but ultimately chose not to. "With 16 years of memories, and both of us loving midyears," he says, "it was the perfect opportunity to build a resto-rod."

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Ron located the late Craig Anderson, owner of Southeast Frame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to replace the frame. "Craig was an accomplished machinist," Ron says, "and had a background in racing." The result was a one-off box frame loaded with custom tricks. Anderson modified the front shock towers with adjustable jack bolts and fabricated adjustable shock mounts for the rear. He then TIG-welded and powdercoated the frame itself.

The stock suspension was scrapped in favor of the underpinnings from a '96 Corvette. The transverse leaf springs were replaced with QA1 coilovers, and Vette Brakes & Products supplied a set of its Smart Struts and trailing arms. To quicken the Vette's response, a 12:1 ratio Appleton rack-and-pinion steering box was installed. Out back, a Dana 44 rear was bolted into the IRS with a set of 3.73 gears.

Ron worked with Max Carr, an accomplished machinist and metal fabricator, to construct a variety of special components during the course of the project. For example, when Ron wanted to install C6 Z06 front and rear brakes, he and Carr had to fabricate frame adaptors. The rear-brake mounting required a mock-up, followed by computer-aided design and then CNC fabrication from an aluminum block. The differential-support bracket and the lower shock mounts for the QA1 coilovers were also custom made by Carr.

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In conjunction with the big Z06 brakes, Ron installed a Hydratech hydraulic brake-assist system with a Wilwood dual master cylinder. Smitten with the look of the stock Z06 wheels, he chose to mount 18x9.5-inch fronts all the way around. They were shod with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s-245/40ZR18 in the front and 275/40ZR18 in the rear. Ride-height considerations mean the tires tuck deep into the wheelwells, with more than adequate room for clearance.

Like any finely built custom, there's a considerable amount of detail work hidden beneath the body and out of view. Ron wanted a stainless-steel fuel tank with an internal pump and built-in baffles, for example. That required him to design and build an 1/8-inch plywood mockup for test fittings. It was placed low on the frame, and the tank bottom followed the rear-panel contours. Once satisfied, Ron noted the dimensions, and a stainless tank was fabricated.

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