1963 Chevrolet Corvette - Lickety Split

This LS7 Split-Window Blends Timeless Looks With Peerless Performance

Christopher R. Phillip Feb 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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Next, Rodriguez mocked up the body to the Street Shop chassis, installed Rewarder Racing ceramic-coated headers with 1 7/8-inch primaries, and fabricated custom stainless-steel head and side pipes. Other hand-fabbed items include the oil-tank hangers and brackets, the battery tray and wheelwell access panel, and the hidden computer mount with ECU plug in. Rodriguez also converted the stock ashtray to an iPod holder, modified the stock glovebox to accommodate a stereo head unit, and built a custom emergency-brake pulley system utilizing the factory handle.

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With that done, Leon applied three coats of Spies/Hecker polyester primer, followed by block-sanding and three coats of Glasurit Primer. After final block-sanding, he sprayed five coats of Diamond Platinum Ice, a three-stage Diamond Candy Black Cherry hood stripe, and five coats of Glasurit clear. He labored four weeks on the five-stage color wet-sanding system alone, progressing from 600 through 3,000 grit until a perfect, mirror-like reflection was achieved.

Then came the trim. "We hand-hammered all dents from the factory stainless, then wet-sanded and polished them to perfection," Spinella says. "Most of the trim was in good enough shape to be restored instead of replaced. We did replace the door handles and door mirrors with reproduction originals, and the bumpers were sent out to a local vendor for stripping and triple-plate chroming."

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Vehicle assembly was next, including the doors, hood, trim, bumpers, emblems, and various chrome and stainless bits. According to Spinella, "Only minor shimming to the stock body mounts was necessary to get the correct clearance over the five-speed transmission and custom chassis. A custom steering shaft and coupler were used to adapt the stock steering shaft to the rack-and-pinion. In regards to the engine fitment, custom-made aluminum motor-mount plates were made to get the engine positioned with enough firewall clearance."

Turning to the interior, Spinella installed Dynamat material for heat and sound insulation, while John Goncharuk III installed an Alpine head unit, custom speaker and subwoofer enclosures, and hidden panels housing the amp and CD changer.

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Spinella then took on the electronics. "The car's complete front engine harness was retrofitted using the original firewall plug, but conversions to all the terminals were made, including converting the harness from an old-style, externally regulated alternator to a new, internally regulated one," he says.

The original mechanical tachometer was sent out to Corvette Clocks by Roger in Jackson, Tennessee, where it was converted to electronic, while the speedometer and gas gauge were restored to original. The amp meter, meanwhile, was con-verted to a voltmeter, and the oil-pressure-gauge readout was bumped from 60 to 80 psi.

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"The real trick was converting the signal from the FAST harness to the signal needed on the tachometer," Spinella says. "We used a tach-ometer digital interface from Dakota Digital, along with some programming, to get the tach-ometer to work. The tach was the most involved conversion, because we insisted on using factory-faceplate gauges. Performance replacements would have been too easy, and taken away from the original style of the car."

Other mods included a custom aluminum radiator with an electrical fan setup, a Classic Air midyear A/C kit with custom lines, a custom power-steering pump and lines, and a Master Power Brakes master cylinder linked to a Hydroboost brake system.


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