1967 CORVETTE STING RAY - Ken C
When I returned home from military service I purchased a new 1967 red Corvette, can you believe it cost me all of $5,200. I enjoyed the car immensely. Twenty-Five, single and a red convertible Corvette, could life be any better. Life moves on though, three years later with a family to support and going back to college on the GI Bill, I couldn’t afford to keep my prized Vette (where would my son ride in a two seater). So, in 1970 with a heavy heart I parted with my beauty for a whopping $3,000.
Move the clock forward to 1988, I was in a position to purchase another 1967 corvette (for a lot more than $3K), but it had lived a rough life and was pretty much a basket case. The Corvette convertible I found had begun life in St. Louis with Rally Red paint, black interior and white top. Its had a Muncie 4-Speed Transmission, 370 Ratio Prostration Rear Axle, Standard Exhaust, Headrests, AM/FM Radio, Soft Ray Tinted Glass, and a 427 cubic Inch, 400 H.P Engine. When my son and I began restoration the Vette had 48,000 original miles on the clock. Checking with original owners we found it had been garaged for years with a blown engine.
For restoration, I wanted the car turn out like my original 1967 Vette. Together my son and I fully dissembled the car and an Atlanta restoration shop repaired the fiberglass and painted it the original Rally Red. Interestingly, when the three coats of paint were stripped down to the fiberglass by hand, the Vette was found to have all original fiberglass panels and no major damage. Cracks to the bottom front and right rear had, however, been repaired with woven fiberglass (a messy, improper repair) and the panels were replaced. The car was extensively block sanded and painted with several coats of hand rubbed polyutherane.
After painting, we reassembling the parts, restoring or replacing each as we went along. A completely new interior was installed including new dash pads, door panels, seats and carpet. Other interior work included restoring the instrument panel and the installation of new gauges (the radio and tachometer were in good working order and were just cleaned). Along with interior work, the seats were discovered to have the mounting hardware for headrests so new headrests were installed. Crowning off the new interior was a new convertible top.
For the mechanical work, Jim Watson, Master Corvette Mechanic and racer, from Snellville, Georgia provided extensive assistance. Interestingly, we found the original 4-speed transmission had been swapped for a correct Corvette two-speed power glide automatic and shifter, quite a job considering the engine had to be removed to do this. An extensive search for a correct Muncie 4-Speed, pedal, shifter and linkage, the transmission system was restored to its original configuration.
Along with the transmission swap, the 427 engine had been junked in the late 70s and a 1972 Corvette 350 engine installed. As I knew I was going to use this Vette for cruising and considering the difficult task of locating a correct big block, I installed a High Output “ZZZ” engine, purchased new from Chevrolet. I topped the engine with a 750 cfm Holley “double-pumper” carburetor and HEI ignition. The ZZZ has 350 cubic inches, 355 H.P (over 400 H.P. by 1967 ratings) and 380 lbs. of torque. Along with the new engine a new cooling system and side mounted exhaust were installed.
Mechanical updating also included several other important improvements. Stainless steel brake calipers and master cylinder was installed. New Koni gas shocks were installed, the front suspension was overhauled and the rear suspension was rebuilt including, new u-joints and a 350 lb. rear fiberglass monospring. Finally, the wheels were updated with correct reproduction aluminum bolt-ons and redline tires. Then, after 6 years of hard work, I was ready to play.
On the quarter-mile drag strip this beauty will turn more than 100 MPH, in the high 13s. Among its many trophies and awards, it is seen in parades about town and I drive it to voluntary Santa visits to children homes. Imagine Santa arriving in a classic red Corvette, what a thrill for the kids.
As often occurs, the cash invested in restoration far exceed original plans, but it is worth every penny. Being a father/son project this Classic Corvette will always remain in the family and represent some wonderful memories.