In our Sept. '12 issue, we introduced you to the concept behind our two-part FRC "refresher course"—specifically, to breathe new life into a '99 hardtop using a coordinated set of aftermarket appearance upgrades. Along with the obvious benefit of rejuvenating a once-proud C5, the project would furnish us with an opportunity to address the topics of paint and bodywork, areas often overlooked when dealing with Chevy's non-rusting, non-denting fiberglass flier.
As noted in our last installment, the figurative cayenne in our aesthetic sauce piquante came in the form of a suite of 'glass body panels from Lewis Five Motorsports. The package included flared front and rear fenders, along with a set of matching splash guards. While our initial test installation revealed the L5 panels to be of unimpeachable quality, they—like all non-factory body components—would need to be tweaked just a bit to match the car prior to the final install.
That left only the matter of paint, an area in which car owner Greg Lovell would brook no dissent: The Vette wore an integument of scorching Torch Red when it left Bowling Green, and so it would in its new incarnation. One gallon of DuPont ChromaBase (as mixed) and another gallon of ChromaClear were selected for the job.
Before we go on, it bears mention that the process of preparing, painting, and installing automotive body components is at least as critical to the final result as is the quality of the parts themselves. With that in mind, we made certain to use someone with extensive experience in the field of Corvette 'glasswork, the better to ensure that our FRC's snazzy new outerwear wasn't rumpled by inexpert execution.
Following Lovell's recommendation, we entrusted the job to Rudy Gonzalez, a paint-and-body man at Plant City, Florida's Stingray Chevrolet who takes on freelance assignments in his off hours. The folks at Stingray were even good enough to let Gonzalez perform the work onsite, using the dealership's pro-quality paint booth and equipment.
While a step-by-step recounting of the process would require more space than we can spare here, we've done our best to show you the major portions. Even in abbreviated form, it's clear that is an undertaking best left to experienced professionals wielding specialized tools within the confines of a purpose-built facility.
With that said, let's take a closer look at what it takes to turn a tired C5 into a dazzling magazine cover car.