1963 Corvette Engine Compartment Modifications - Split Personality, Part 7

Covering The Engine Compartment, Air Intake, And Cooling Systems

Rich Lagasse Jan 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
Corp_0901_01_z _ls7_engine_compartment_modifications Air_intake_cooling_systems 2/21

Through the first six installments of our project series, we've covered project planning, chassis and suspension, engine, drivetrain, brakes, installing C5 seats in a midyear, engine electronics, exhaust, fuel systems, and the exterior features of the body. In this installment, we'll feature the engine-compartment modifications, and cold-air intake and cooling systems.

We've tried to cover each subject in enough detail to give you a good idea of what's involved, the sources we used, and the reasons for our approach. At the very least, we hope it will stimulate some ideas and save you time, but the fun of these projects is coming up with your own ideas to build a car reflecting your personal taste and achieving your own objectives. Since each project is unique, and you'll have your own ideas on the approach to take and components to use, we'll just describe the approach we've taken and what has worked for us.

To complement the work on the engine, we went to some lengths to enhance the appearance of the engine compartment. The major changes to the body involved reworking the firewall, inner fender panels, and hood (which were done at the Corvette Center in Newington, Connecticut), and the design of the cooling and air-intake systems.

Engine Compartment Firewall
The firewall was smoothed and all unnecessary holes filled. One particular aspect we wanted to change was the wiper-motor area. A new filler piece was made on the driver side of the wiper-motor opening, which mirrored the shape on the passenger side to make a uniform opening. An access door was then made to fit the new wiper-motor opening, which fits flush with the firewall and is held in place by two tabs. To gain enough clearance, the windshield-washer assembly was removed (a new cover plate was made to enclose the motor), and we also had to modify the four wiper-motor mounts to recess the motor another 1/4 inch to make the cover fit flush with the firewall.

We also wanted to hide the hood latch cable as much as possible, and we ran the cable (using a lawnmower throttle cable) along the inside of the firewall. (See photos 1, wiper recess; 2, finished wiper door opening and firewall in primer; and 3, painted firewall.) In photo 3 you can see the two-tone paint scheme of our red and Quicksilver and how the transmission tunnel was modified. Since the frame is red, we wanted to have more contrast against the underside of the body, and the silver really helps to distinguish the frame.

Additional changes to the firewall included fitting a parking-brake setup from the '64 Corvette (the '64 style fits much closer to the firewall), mounting the hydraulic-clutch master cylinder and reservoir, installing a bulkhead (from Vintage Air) for the A/C and heater lines, and mounting the Engine Control Unit.

Inner Fenders
In addition to smoothing the inner fenders and making clearance for the C5 upper control arms, three other major changes were made. The first was to install a battery-access door (from an A/C car) in the driver-side fenderwell. Moving the battery to that side was necessary because we relocated the dry sump tank on the passenger side. As a side benefit, this also helped gain easier access when installing components such as the ECU, the brake system, and the hydraulic clutch. (See photo 4, battery access door.) The second was to extend the inner fender panels by making new covers to enclose the upper control arms in lieu of using rubber dust shields. (See photo 5, control-arm cover.) The third was to make a hidden tunnel for the wiring that normally runs along the inside of the driver's fenderwell. The "conduit" runs along the underside of the fender peak and works well to enclose all the wiring. We used a length of fiberglass panel and glassed it in place. From the underside, you can't tell it's there, so we don't have a good picture of that.




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