Fully Restored 1981 Chevrolet Corvette L81 - Delicious Intent

Aussie George Gilby Cooks Up A Succulent Show-Car Confection

Christopher R. Phillip May 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)

1981 Chevrolet Corvette Specifications

Vemp_0905_07_z Fully_restored_1981_chevrolet_corvette Rear_bumper 2/13

The reenergized 350 was then mated to a stock replacement clutch, which spins the original BorgWarner T-10 four-speed and Dana 44 rear with 3.08 gears. Factory N90 aluminum wheels shod in BFGoodrich 255/60-15 rubber rounded out the package, making the Corvette ready for its first night out with its new owner.

"I just wanted to get to know the car, so I took some time before going on to the next stages," Gilby says. "During that time, I started taking it to car shows, which were always a few hours drive away. This gave me a chance to really enjoy the Corvette, both from a driving point of view as well as showing it."

After showing the Corvette for a year, Gilby decided his next step would be to upgrade the cabin accoutrements. Blakemores Automotive Upholstery implemented the yellow-and-gray seat motif using the original frames, but added lumbar supports and covered the thrones with velour, leather, and Corvette-logo stitching. "I wanted to be able to sit in the seats, not on them," Gilby says. "They're now very comfortable on a long drive."

One year later, new door panels were made to match the soft gray fabric of the seats. The steering wheel, meanwhile, was treated to a thicker circumference and stitched with flame motifs, and the speedometer was upgraded to a 165-mph unit, replacing the factory 85-mph piece.

Vemp_0905_08_z Fully_restored_1981_chevrolet_corvette Aftermarket_tail_lights 3/13

Next, Gilby contacted Sound In Motion in Nambour to install a show-quality sound system. "George's brief when we first discussed the installation was `This is a show car, so thesystem has to look like it's part of the vehicle, not an add-on,'" owner Brian Bugenhagen says. "The key to the integration was the custom fiberglass panel, which houses the subwoofer enclosures [and is] loaded with JL Audio 10-inch speakers, an Alpine multi-channel amplifier, and rear-fill 4-inch speakers. The installation took approximately two weeks, including the dash speakers, the Alpine three-disc in-dashCD player,and the security system. We're very proud of the end results."

Gilby's most elaborate mods can't even be seen--that is, of course, until the hood is raised. The engine bay features a plethora of polished pieces, including billet underdrive pulleys; custom, stainless steel radiator-expansion and windshield-washer bottles; an aluminum radiator; a chrome power-steering pump; a ceramic-coated intake manifold; and much more, all further enhanced with carefully hidden electrical and vacuum wiring. The job took more than six years to accom-plish, but Gilby managed to minimize the car's downtime along the way. "The transformation was done progressively, as I did pieces when I could afford to," he explains.

With all that passion and pride invested in the car, it's no surprise that the results have been sizzling. Gilby has entered the Vette in the Australian National Corvette Convention four times and taken First Place in each outing (in 2001, 2003, 2006, and 2007). And if that's not enough to put this car among the world's most successful show Vettes, just take a look at some of its other awards below.

So what does the future hold for this Vette? Gilby says he's holding true to his motto that he's willing to modify anything on the car. Accordingly, he's already planned horsepower upgrades, a complete dash and instrument panel to reflect the curved lines of the exterior, a rack-and-pinion steering upgrade, a six-speed manual trans, new wheels, air vents for the hood, and even fuel injection.

Vemp_0905_09_z Fully_restored_1981_chevrolet_corvette Custom_exhaust 4/13

In the meantime, he'll continue driving his Corvette to shows, and driving home with First Place awards. "It took until I was 38 years old to get my first Corvette, and I haven't stopped smiling since," Gilby says. "There's always a new and different idea forming about how to further personalize my car."

2001 - First Place in the '80s Modified section staged by the Combined Coastal Car Club Inc.

2001 - First Place in the Top Standard Paint section staged by the Combined Coastal Car Club Inc.


Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print