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.
At the rear of the car, we continued to fit, grind, and refit the rear fenders in preparation for final bonding. Once they are glued in place, that's it, there's no going back. So we spent as much time as necessary to ensure all our body lines flowed together. As the car will be traveling into different sections of the shop, we attached a special wheel dolly to the front spring pockets to allow easy movement of the car through the shop assembly line.
The car then headed to the sandblasting area, where the front of the chassis got sandblasted. In preparation of new paint and detail, we prepped and primed the firewall and front frame section. After sanding the primer, it was off to the spray booth where the rest of the car was bagged in plastic, and the front chassis and cowl got a fresh coat of black urethane paint. Any surface on the underside of the new front end that will be bonded to the car needed to be ground down with 24-grit sanding discs to remove any mold release and expose the fresh fiberglass. This is important to get a good bonding surface for the bond to really soak into the components and lock everything together.
Then we did our first test fit of the front end. Since the original '64 core support would not fit the inner skirts of our new '67 front end, we needed a new core support. Coffman Manufacturing really stepped up to the plate and sent us one of their dead-on pieces for the pre-fit. At this point, we were just trying to get the basic shape of the car, and see what we needed to do to make everything fit and work. The door fit is crucial at this point because we don't want to have to come back later and try to fit the doors after the front end is bonded in place. We took all the extra time we needed to ensure the surround is square, including height, rake, and door and windshield gaps. Then the hood went on, and we got the latches in place. The hood fit is also crucial at this point, and since it has a bearing on proper alignment, it needs to fit properly now.
Once we felt good about the front end fit, it was time to put the car back on the sandblasting lift and remove all the components from the rest of the chassis. After pressure washing the fiberglass body pan, we protected the fiberglass from stray sand with a heavy paper wrap and sandblasted the entire exposed frame. After sanding the metal smooth with 80-grit sandpaper, we primed the chassis. We sanded the car again to prepare for the finish coat and then applied the black top coat to the entire underside. The bottom of this car needs to look as good as the top, and now it does.
The car needed to sit on the suspension to properly settle before we can do our final fit and gluing of all the body panels. We plugged in a temporary loaner drivetrain and quickly bolted the original rearend back in the car. The final drivetrain needs to be detailed as it is installed in the car so a loaner drivetrain helps with the settling of the car, but yet protects the final drivetrain from overspray and possible assembly accidents. It is important to have all major components in place prior to permanent body assembly.
There is still much to be done to make this C2 a reality since this car is being built from the ground up. Lots of time is now being devoted to parts acquisition and control with our suppliers. The bulk of our parts have arrived. JD Machine in Lake Havasu City is also close to delivering our 393 Maxi Mouse stroker motor for the car. The excitement continues to build and the Timber Wolf Speed Shop C2 is clearly taking shape, so stay tuned as we make this dream car a reality on the pages of Corvette Fever soon to be prowling the "taillight zone."
YOU COULD WIN THIS CAR, or one of five other classics at the Timber Wolf Speed Shop. Go to www.TWSPEEDSHOP.com for details.
No Purchase Necessary to enter or win in the Timber Wolf Speed Shop Promotion. For Official Rules and info on how to obtain a free code, visit www.TWSPEEDSHOP.com. Starts 12:01 a.m. CT 5/15/07 and ends 11:59 p.m. CT 11/1/07, or while supplies last. Open to legal residents of the contiguous 48 U.S. & D.C. (excluding VA & MA), 21-or-older, tobacco users, and for those with a valid U.S. driver's license. Void in VA, MA, and where prohibited.
Sponsor: Pinkerton Tobacco Co. LP.
Al Knoch Interiors - Interior
ATI Performance Products - Engine Balancer
Automotive Racing Products (ARP) - Main Bearing & Cylinder Head Bolts
Be Cool - Radiator & Fan System
Billet Fabrication - Billet Valve Covers
BTM Cheetah Continuation Cars - Wide Body Panel Fabrication
Champ Pans - Oil pan & Pickup
Classic Motorsports Group - TKO Tremec Transmission Elite Kit
Coffman Corvette - Radiator Core Support
Comp Cams - Camshaft kit, Pushrods, Timing Chain & Cover, Plugs, Rocker Arms
Corvette Clocks by Roger - Gauge Cluster and Clock
Corvette Image - Corvette Front End Assembly & Hood
Corvette Restoration AZ - Paint, Bodywork & Assembly
Corvette Rubber - Weatherstripping and Window Seals
Custom Autosound - Stereo & Speaker System
Denny's Driveshafts - Rear Axle Halfshafts
Diamond Racing Products - Pistons
Eagle Specialty Products - Crankshaft & Connecting Rods
Eaton - Differential (Posi Unit)
Flaming River Industries - S/S Tilt Column, Steering Wheel & Adapter, Steering Box, Alternator Kill Switch
Hedman Hedders - Headers
Holley Performance Products - Carburetor, Intake Manifold & Water Pump (Weiand)
JD Machine - Engine Block, Assembly & Dyno
Keen Parts - Bumper Brackets, Braces & Rocker Moldings
Lonestar Caliper - Proportioning Valve & Rearend Spindle Flanges
Mahle Clevite - Main & Rod Bearings
M & H Electric Fabricators - Wiring Harnesses
Melling Select Performance - Oil Pump & Intermediate Shaft
Mid America Motorworks - HD Side Yokes & Seals
Motive Gear - Ring-and-Pinion, Install Kit
MSD Ignition - Distributor, Starter, Coil, Plug Wires, MSD6AL Box
Muskegon Brake - HD Rearend Cover, Install Kit, Bolt Kit, Locks
Penn-Ohio Corvette Specialties - Heat Barrier Kit
Phoenix Graphix -'67 Stinger Hood Stencil Kit
Pure Choice Motorsports - S/S Fuel Lines
Quanta Products - Gas tank & sender
Racing Head Service - Cylinder Head Assemblies
Right Stuff Detailing - Main Fuel Line and Clip Set
Scottsdale Paint & Supply - PPG Platinum basecoat/clearcoat paint
Trim Parts - Glovebox Door & Fuel Filler Door Assys.
Vette Brakes and Products - Brakes & Suspension Components
Vintage Air - A/C & Frontrunner Pulley System
Willy's Carburetor & Dyno Shop - Holley Carburetor (build)