C1 Corvette Hardtop Restoration - Top Of The Heap, Part Two

What's The Most Important Part Of Restoring A Solid-Axle Hardtop? Patience

John Nelson Mar 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
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This '61-62-vintage hardtop looks better than new after getting the full Glassworks treatment. Follow along to see how it's done.

Last month, we went along for the ride as the crew at Glassworks-The Hardtop Shop showed us how to dismantle an aged, weather-worn solid-axle hardtop to prepare it for restoration. This month, we'll see what it takes to make an Auxiliary Hardtop as good as-and even better than-new.

As we showed in February, there's a sizeable amount of time and effort that goes in to removing all that dingy stainless steel and rotting rubber, not to mention separating the roof skin from the roof frame. Hold on though, 'cause you ain't seen nothing yet! The old clich about it being easier to take something apart than to put it together is certainly true in this case. And it's doubly true when you're striving for high levels of fit and finish. The Glassworks crew, Matt Kokolis, his dad Ted, Bryan Benson, and Joe Tustin, certainly do that.

The process of giving one of these hardtops new life is time-consuming and requires a lot of attention to detail. And at least one other quality, according to Matt: "People can do this at home," he says. "We sell the kits and the proper window. But what you really need is a bucketful of patience." That being said, Glassworks also restores mid-year Auxiliary Hardtops, and will sell all the parts an enterprising do-it-yourselfer needs to handle the job (you'll have to supply the patience and elbow grease).

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Once the frame is separated from the top, the paint is stripped off. The roof shell is sanded and filled as needed before being primered and re-painted. We mentioned in Part One that the hardtop frame is straightened and polished, as needed. Matt Kokolis demonstrated his stainless resuscitation technique for us on this small piece of fire-damaged side trim.

Let's get right into our hardtop rebop, and we'll also take a look at one of Glassworks' special projects: restoring the hardtop from the 1960 Briggs-Cunningham No. 3 Le Mans racer. Enjoy.

Something Out of the Ordinary
If you were one of the many people who made it to Corvettes at Carlisle 2001, you undoubtedly checked out Chip's Choices, and may have even noticed Chip Miller's newest project: restoring the 1960 Briggs-Cunningham No. 3 Le Mans car. With the body set on stands above the frame to give a full view of the frame and engine, however, you may not have noticed the immaculately restored hardtop perched atop the reborn roadster.

This was no "ordinary" job. But drawing on years of experience, and referring to snapshots of the already restored No. 2 car, Ted Kokolis went to work. Several parts had to be custom-made, and the side window vents were sourced from the aircraft industry. And that's not even accounting for the extra care that an important part of Corvette history like this deserves. The process did take extra effort, but we'd say it was worth it. Assuming the rest of this old warrior looks as good when finished as the top does, the final result will be a sight to see.

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