Perserving Your Classic Corvette Engine

How to preserve the most important component in your Corvette.

Jeff Bernhardt Oct 7, 2008 0 Comment(s)
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So this is where it starts. You look down into your engine compartment at your original, numbers-matching, award-winning engine like this 350 horse 327, and realize that it cannot be replaced if something happens to it. Add to this the fact that the environment has changed to the point where today's gas isn't the gas this engine was designed to run on, nor is today's oil the same as this engine was designed to have lubricate it. So you have to ask yourself, "do I drive it, or do I put it up on blocks and preserve it?" Should you choose the latter, you're robbing yourself of the enjoyment you should be getting from this classic piece of artwork, as well as denying your fellow ownership the camaraderie of including you in many events happening just about every weekend. allow me to bring to the table some ideas that may help change your thought process to show that both can be accomplished. Stay with me to the end before you formulate an opinion.

There's no way I would ever change my classic Corvette, but if I did, I would do something with the engine. The words are the same from a number of my clients, but their reasons for saying them vary. If you've just tuned in, this is the second in a series of articles. Your author is a Corvette restoration shop owner and longtime NCRS member. The National Corvette Restorer's Society is dedicated to the restoration, preservation, history, and enjoyment of Corvettes-a credo that I am honored to be a part of and bound to help promote. This series is designed to show Corvette owners how they can enjoy their classic, but at the same time preserve it. I was inspired to write this series after talking with a number of people (some of my clients included) that have achieved a Top Flight or Duntov award, and are now afraid to drive their car for fear of hurting an original component, especially an original numbers-matching engine. So they don't, and their Corvette sits in their highly decorated garage shrine and gets a new desiccant bag inserted into the hermetically sealed car bag every month. This is not, in my opinion, what Corvette ownership is all about. This segment also addresses the questions an owner has prior to the restoration of his or her Corvette that is, something we can't deny, outdated. So ride along and look at some options that will help inspire you to pump up your tires and wad up your car cover. If you couldn't care less about originality and numbers, climb aboard as well; maybe you'll see something you haven't seen before. A word of qualification: There is nothing here that can't be put back to stock should you wish to.

The first segment of this series focused on the installation of a five-speed transmission, something that will certainly enhance the drivability of your car as well as help to preserve your engine by slowing down the highway rpms. We'll now look at more direct ways of preserving your original engine either through substitution by actually putting your entire engine into storage, or by installing more modern up-to-date parts into it to add to its life. Such parts will deal with the changing environment of today. How can a true NCRS member tout anything about changing parts on a true Top Flight car? That's like the chairman of Ford motor company driving a Corvette to work every day. Well, my guess is that Bill Ford wishes he could. Read on and I'll explain. The "bag and tag" approach is the answer to the owner that has a very valuable engine and cannot risk a failure that will render it inoperable, or worse, unrepairable. I have heard the stories, and maybe you have too, about a 283 that was cruising down the highway at 65 mph when suddenly a rod went through the side of the block. That original code-correct engine just became a doorstop. I had a rocker stud pull out of my '63 340 horse engine while driving down the highway-same type situation, but at least mine was repairable. We can preserve history and still enjoy our classic cars with replacement engines under the hood while we sock away our originals.

Difficulty Index NNN

ANYONE'S PROJECT | no tools required N
BEGINNER | basic tools NN
EXPERIENCED | special tools NNN
ACCOMPLISHED | special tools and outside help NNNN
PROFESSIONALS ONLY | send this work out NNNNN

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