Project-ready. The term can describe almost anything, from a long-term-stored Vette only in need of cleaning to a basket case that will take a major effort to get back on the road. When Kent Sexton found the '65 Sting Ray convertible you see here, it was clearly in need of a comprehensive makeover. "The toughest part was finding a person to put it together the way I wanted," he recalls. "I had a couple other people looking at it, and messing with it, and then I found Fesler's. They put it together the way I wanted it." He adds, "The biggest part, for me, was to make sure that it was straight, because it was getting painted black."
Fesler Built, in Scottsdale, Arizona, was tasked with turning the mangled midyear into a cruiser and canyon-carver that combined classic Corvette style with modern-tech hardware.
The shop's techs started with the original '65 frame, which they took apart down to the bare rails, painted black, then fitted a Hyperco composite monoleaf suspension setup front and rear, combined with Bilstein shocks and Fesler-designed modular aluminum wheels. For power, in went a 383-inch stroker small-block, one wearing Air Flow Research aluminum heads, an Edelbrock RPM Air Gap intake with a Holley 750-cfm four-barrel, and filled with hardware such as TRW pistons, a Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshaft, and a GM Performance Parts stroker crank. Backing it is a Tremec TKO600 five-speed with a modified Hurst shifter, while the rearend features a 3.50-geared Positraction between fresh halfshafts.
But the area that needed the most attention was the body- or, what was left of the original one. Eckler's supplied a reproduction front clip, which Fesler's body crew combined with the surviving C2 pieces to make a mirror-like foundation on which Gary Sharp sprayed the BASF two-stage black paint. Eckler's also furnished new bumpers at each corner, as well as a set of body seals, while the original trim and chrome were reworked and polished to look factory fresh. Inside, the dash got a major makeover with Dakota Digital gauges and controls for a Vintage Air HVAC system. The original buckets and door panels were stitched in new black leather, while Fesler's Brian York put together a Kicker-based, iPod-driven sound system.
Two years after he found it- and six months after Fesler's started on it- Sexton's Sting Ray was now the black beauty you see here. It might look like an ISCA-grade show car, but that's not what he had in mind for it. "I drive it around Phoenix, and I take it to some local shows," says Sexton, who points to its new-tech chassis hardware, stroker small-block, and Tremec five-speed. "It's a great-driving car," he adds. "It's got a tighter suspension on it, so it drives real nice. It handles really well for an old car."
If you're inspired to turn a "project ready" Corvette you have- or one you may find- into a resto-modded gem like Sexton's, he says to look for a builder with a good reputation. "You may pay a little bit more, but they do a fantastic job if you find the right people," he adds.
What if you want to do it yourself? "Do a lot of research on it," says Sexton, "because you'll end up spending a lot more money than you expect."
Either way, do it once, do it right- and you just might end up with a spectacular Vette like this one.
"It's a great-driving car. It handles really well for an old car."- Kent Sexton
|OWNER||Kent Sexton; Phoenix, AZ|
|BLOCK||Chevrolet 4.030-in bore, cast-iron|
|HEADS||Air Flow Research castaluminum|
|VALVES||2.02/1.60 stainless steel|
|CAMSHAFT||Comp hydraulic roller|
|PISTONS TRW||forged aluminum|
|CRANKSHAFT||GMPP forged steel "stroker"|
|RODS||GMPP forged steel|
|INTAKE MANIFOLD||Edelbrock RPM Air Gap cast aluminum|
|CARBURETOR||Holley 750-cfm fourbarrel|
|FUEL PUMP||Holley electric|
|IGNITION||MSD distributor and wires, Delco plugs|
|EXHAUST SYSTEM||Hooker headers and "Show Tube" sidemount mufflers/pipes|
|TRANSMISSION||Tremec TKO600 fivespeed manual with modified Hurst shifter|
|DRIVESHAFT||Custom fabricated by Arizona Drive Shaft|
|SUSPENSION||Hyperco transverse composite leaf springs, Bilstein shocks|
|BRAKES||Restored stock fourwheel discs with Baer proportioning valve and braided lines|
|WHEELS||19x8-in Fesler FS 905 modular aluminum (front and rear)|
|TIRES||Goodyear Eagle 255/30R19 radial (front and rear)|
|MILEAGE||Approximately 1,500 since completion|