Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Ugly Duckling Project

This is a 1963 Corvette split window coupe found on Craig's list and it needs TLC. I think of this car as an ugly duckling, if you don't know what you're looking at it will be easy to scratch your head and ask why. If you do know what you're looking at you can appreciate the fact that this project has great potential and should be a very fun build.
Within the last 4 weeks this car has become the spot light of chain of events that my friends and I find exciting. My wife Gerri, brother Jim, Matt P, Dennis K, Max H, Bob D, Bob R, Mark S and many others share the excitement for this build. Everyone has questions and most questions have not been answered... yet. This should be a fun build filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. I hope to use this blog to get your thoughts throughout this build and to have you participate whenever possible. Mark S has the vin number and he hopes to find details about the original build sheet including the engine. Good luck Mark.
THE FIND: I found the car totally by accident on Craig's List (Craig's Helper) about 5 weeks ago. I though I was searching in Florida only to find out the car was in Hawaii. After a couple of days of why, why, why did it have to be in Hawaii, Gerri and I decided to investigate further. Since then we have flown to Hawaii, made great friends with Dennis and Pam S the sellers, stuffed the car and all the associated pieces in to a PODS container, and the vehicle is now somewhere in transit between Hawaii and Washington state. Delivery is expected around April 25th.
THE CAR: For my price range this car is exactly what I hoped to find. This car has option C48, "heater delete", of which only 124 were produced in 1963. The car is very solid and is basically all there including the very hard to find trim around the rear windows. The original engine is not with the car, however, because the tach red lines at 6500 rpm and not 5500 rpm, the car should have come with a high performance engine. This isn't certain and it will require additional research.

This is one of the two original pictures shown in Craig's list. The body is on a body dolly. Dennis had removed the body about 10 years ago while he restored the chassis. Since then the body and the chassis have set several years unattended. Both the body and the chassis require restoration.

This is the second picture shown in Craig's list. The Corvette has had several modifications over the years including flared wheel wells, additional tail lights, and a 1967 hood. All of these modifications will be corrected with possible exception to the tail lights. I am told the extra tail lights were a dealer installed option. If that is correct then I'll probably leave the extra lights as is.

The interior was in the deconstruct phase when work stopped. All the pieces and parts are included in the sale and make up most of the "baskets". The body will be stripped of all remaining parts and pieces and then built up from there. The seats are original to the car.

The engine, transmission and rear end are out of a 1975 L82 Corvette. The original rear end is intact and is included in the sale. My intent is to make the car period correct so the 350, T10 and installed rear end will be swapped out.

The frame was sand blasted and repairs were made along with the installation of new bushings, stainless steel brake lines and brake components. Although refurbished years ago the rolling chassis requires rework.

Most of the parts included in the sale are shown in this picture. The steel fan shroud, steering wheel and steering column, original rear end, brackets, etc are included. Also included in the sale are new replacement parts purchased over 10 years ago. These items include door panels, gas tank, front nose cross brace, gauges, etc. I've not been through all the buckets and boxes so I am not sure what kind of goodies remain uncovered. It will be like Christmas.


  1. I believe this blog will now let you leave a comment. Give it a try.

  2. John. It so great to see this project rise on your radar. The only hard part will be having to fly out to your place to work on it so I can claim so small level of artistry on this build like the Nomad. This will be a great project and I know your attention to detail will make it a very special restoration for sure. Talk to you soon Buddy!! Bobby D.

  3. Thanks Bob. This should be 1 1/2 tons of fun. Enough for everybody. Hope you can participate throughhout the build.

  4. hi John,

    Just stumbled upon your blog, I am restoring a 66 convertible and I have already gotten some helpful tips from your page. I have just started using captain lees paint strip to remove the 3 some places 4 layers of old paint (original yellow ,blue, black and even orange). Can you give me any more information on how you used the FEIN Multimaster to remove your paint? How did it work around the corners or tight sections. My email is thanks

  5. John, I am just joining in with interest in your project. I noticed that Gerri has show interest and that's super. My wife checks up on me but asked why I always buy projects! Mine is a '66 convertible bought from a guy by the name of Gerry! This was a 15 year project for him until a Viet Nam acquired injury has forced him to life saving hospital visits instead. I am hoping to finish it in time to let him drive it. I am also watching the dates. I picked up mine in 2004 after loosing my second job within 7 years! I actually found it through conversation with my unemployment officer. His 85 y/o mom wants a Vette before she goes to Rt 66 in the sky and found this project but she does not think she will live long enough to finish it so she passed. She did find a '75 roadster and loves it. Actually had to move the seat closer to the pedals so she could drive it. It is obvious that I type too much, blah blah blah. Sorry. But I am watching close and will follow your project. I am on the East Coast so I got one of those Vettes that rot faster than they drive. Oh well, I still enjoy the project. Thanks for opening the blog and the updates on your project. Pat @

  6. Hey Pat, welcome aboard. I am hear to tell you that cars in Hawaii rust just like the cars do on the east coast. We will have several opportunities to fix rusted areas. Most of the damage is on the windshield frame above the A pillars and also on top of the B pillars. It's not so bad though that we shouldn't be able to fix it. Time will tell. For now it's fiberglass work. If you have recommendations during the build be sure to chime in. Thanks for posting your comments.