1964 Coupe - Red Means Go

Aussie Mark Course’s retina-searing retro-rod

Christopher R. Phillip Dec 6, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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In America, red may mean, "Come to a complete and safe stop," but to Mark Course, an electrical engineer in Deer Park, Victoria, Australia, the color that ignites 83,000 receptor cones in the human eye means just one thing: go, go, go.

Course recently imported a '64 Riverside Red Corvette coupe with matching Red interior to the former British colony, and he's been lighting up Australian roads with his acquisition ever since.

"I've always loved Corvettes, and I sold my award-winning '32 Ford hot-rod coupe to buy this Sting Ray," Course says. "I was going to buy a first-gen, but a salesman in the U.S. told me to set my sights on a midyear. Though I didn't buy one from him, I took his advice."

The Aussie found his '64 four-on-the-floor Corvette on an Internet for-sale site, and then asked the seller-a New Jersey collector-car dealer-to send him digital photos of it, along with details. He learned that the classic C2's previous owner had installed an '81 350 (which he had stroked to 383 cubic inches, thanks to an aftermarket 3.75-inch crank and 4.030-inch pistons); aluminum heads (set at a 10:1 compression-ratio); a Holley 850-cfm carburetor; an MSD 6AL ignition kit; headers; and 3-inch Corvette-style sidepipes. Its cam specs were undisclosed.

The car had rare factory options, too: power windows (only 3,706 Vettes were built with them in 1964) and air-conditioning (an even scarcer option that kept 1,988 new- Corvette owners cool in their cars that year).

Course says the retina-burning red Sting Ray, "...looked like a show winner with its shiny paint, polished chrome and other brightwork, aggressive stance, and Centerline race wheels [15x5.5 and 15x7, to be precise, wrapped in Nexan 205/70R15 and 215/70R15 rubber]."

The '64 Corvette was a winner in new-car showrooms, too. A total of 22,229 of them were manufactured for the model year, continuing a streak of yearly sales increases that started in 1956 and continued through 1966. A 327ci small-block was the only engine offered, and depending on which variant was ordered, its performance was rated at 250, 300, or 365 horses in carbureted form. Specifying the L84 Rochester mechanical fuel-injection system nudged the mouse motor's output to 375 hp.

Course says it was only a day from the moment he saw the Corvette's photos before he consummated the transcontinental sales contract. It then took several months for the Sting Ray to make its way by slow boat to Australia. "They were the scariest months," he says.

Eventually, he received a call from the customs broker where his Corvette had berthed, but his wait was not over yet. As he recalls, "I had to drive eight hours to the port of call and verbally wrestle with the broker over paperwork that was not right. Finally, the Australian authorities allowed me to see my Corvette in person for the first time, and then take delivery of it.

"I wanted to drive it so badly," he continues. "So I trailered it home, fired up the engine, and tested the brakes. The wrong pedal was going to the metal! I had no choice but to park the car and begin my first Corvette mod: modernizing the vintage stopping system with a dual-reservoir master cylinder, 13-inch big-brake rotors, and C5 calipers." He also upgraded the chassis' road-hugging potential with a Vette Brakes and Products sway-bar kit (11?8-inch front, 3?4-inch rear) and Bilstein Sport shocks at all four corners.

The performance- addicted Australian didn't stop there. Wanting to know how much power his Corvette churned out, he took the car to a nearby dyno shop, where it was strapped to the rollers and revved to its limit. He was rewarded with impressive numbers for his combo-418 hp at the rear wheels. Afterwards, he bought his car a gift-a new Centerforce dual-friction clutch.

More recently, Course turned his attention to his Corvette's exterior, careful not to stray from the marque's iconic, head-turning aesthetics. He installed a '67-style big-block hood, sourced from Eckler's, and painted a contrasting longitudinal white stripe onto the body.

Likewise, he left the cabin mostly original looking, including the vinyl-covered seats, door panels, carpet, gauges, four-speed console, and shifter. He did add new chrome knobs, a glovebox, a Moon shifter-handle ball, and an AM/FM/CD stereo that bolted into the factory radio mounting location and bears the Corvette logo.

His future mods include leather seat covers (red, of course), and squeezing even more performance out of his stroked small-block.

Course's enjoyment of his Corvette isn't too much different than that of many domestic Corvette owners-vintage, late-model, and brand-new alike. "I attend club events, race at local racetracks, and if I've had a bad day at work, I jump in the car and head out for a cruise," he says. "There's something about the color red on a Corvette that just makes me want to go." Vette

There's something about the color red on a Corvette that just makes me want to go -Mark Course

Spec Sheet

'64 coupe
Owner Mark Course; Deer Park, Victoria, Australia
Block '81 Corvette cast-iron SBC
Displacement 383 ci
Compression Ratio 10:1
Heads Unknown aluminum aftermarket
Valves Unknown
Camshaft Unknown
Rocker Arms Unknown
Pistons Unknown
Crankshaft Unknown
Rods Unknown
Intake Manifold Unknown aluminum aftermarket
Carburetor Holley 850-cfm four-barrel
Fuel Pump Unknown
Ignition MSD 6AL
Exhaust System Headers with 3-in side pipes
Transmission Stock four-speed manual
Clutch Centerforce
Driveshaft Stock
Suspension VB&P sway bars, Bilstein Sport shocks
RearEnd Stock
Brakes 13-in rotors, C5 calipers
Wheels Centerforce; 15x5.5 (front), 15x7 (rear)
Tires Nexan; 205/70-15 (front), 215/70-15 (rear)
Weight 3,125 lbs (factory shipping weight)
Current Mileage Approx. 7,650

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