Welcome to the second of six total installments chronicling the transformation of a humble "carny" Corvette into the ultimate C2 street fighter. Last month, we began this build with a stock '64 small-block coupe, basically complete and sound, but very tired. After stripping the paint, we discovered enough poorly repaired body panels to necessitate replacement of the majority of the body, excluding the main body and doors. Since this car is being totally upgraded with current-day technology, a stock body just wouldn't cut it, especially with almost 500 ponies under the hood.
Before we get into the build, here are the remaining basic elements of this project:* Disassembly, evaluation, and beginning of the build (this issue).
* Finish bodywork and panel installations, priming/painting, wiring, and A/C install.
* 393 stroker maxi mouse engine build, engine, transmission, and radiator install.
* Chassis, suspension, brakes, and rearend build.
* Interior, stereo, wrap-up, and vehicle drive experience.
We begin this month's narration where we left off last month. The paint has now been stripped off the body down to bare fiberglass, exposing all its dirty little secrets. This is a no-compromise project, and our shop policy is to always build a solid foundation. Any poorly repaired or fractured fiberglass that we find will be ground down to the bone and repaired correctly. If it's discovered that a panel should be replaced, so be it.
The rear quarter-panels showed evidence of having been trimmed at some point to accommodate larger tires, which was a common practice back in the day. Unfortunately, this vehicle was poorly repaired back to its original configuration. Without proper back-up and repair procedures, the repairs were cracking out, and this necessitated panel replacement no matter what type of build we had planned. On a stock-bodied C2, the fenderwells are very restrictive and don't allow for much larger tire sizes than it was equipped stock. There are several solutions to this problem, usually involving some kind of add-on fender flare, which may not flow with the sensual body lines of the C2.
In this particular case, we wanted to get as much rubber under the car as possible, especially since we were going down the Vette-rod road, so our solution was to remove the damaged areas and replace both entire fenders with our own wide body panels. BTM Cheetah Continuation Cars hand-laminated the panels using our molds. These panels allow for much larger than stock wheels and tires, but yet flow with the original body lines. Bottom line, they look awesome, yet subtle. After we removed the old rear quarter section, the outer rear body was in three sections: the rear body upper panel, and both rear quarters. When removing the lower rear quarters, we need to be careful not to damage the bonding strip that is the backing for the panels to be joined. With the paint stripped, it is easy to see where this joint is, so we carefully removed it from that point down. We saw no reason to break loose the inner baffles from the rear quarter, so we left them intact as the bond looked structurally sound. Doing the body modifications this way, it will be easy to convert the car back to an original fender configuration in the future if need be. We proceeded to find the original bonding seam and peeled off much of the fender. We left the rear fender section in place at the rear bulkhead so we could bond the new fender over this area.
The factory bonding areas were ground down to allow the new panels to fit flush to the adjacent components. This is always a dirty, nasty job as fiberglass dust goes everywhere, so skin, eye, and lung protection is a must. For basic protection, form a physical barrier with a respirator, proper clothing, gloves, face shield, and eye protection. You don't want to get the fiberglass anywhere on you, or you will wish you hadn't-real quick.
Moving to the front of the car, after stripping the paint off, once again we found enough poorly repaired fiberglass to condemn the entire front end. We called our fiberglass supplier, Corvette Image (CI), and a complete, jig-built, factory correct front end (including the '67 big-block hood) was on its way to us pronto. The CI front end ships with the lower fenders separate, which is perfect for us as we are going to use our wide body lower fenders in the front as well. So the entire original front end was removed, and the headlight assemblies were taken out and transferred to the new front end.
With the old front end off, we now had easier access to removing the radiator, core support, and the stock engine. We then cleared most of the components off the firewall as well. Once the front end was peeled off, we prepped the bonding surfaces on the cowl, and then shimmed and adjusted the doors. We then headed to the rear of the car and trimmed the new rear fenders around the stock bumper mounts. This process allows the stock rear bumpers, once rechromed, to bolt right back in place without any fitment issues. we also removed the original engine, transmission, and front suspension while working on the rear fenders.