This 1969 350 auto roadster arrived with us for a body repair estimate after it had been hit in a petrol station. The car was in a reasonable condition prior to the accident but the insurance claim got complicated and the owner decided to take a settlement rather than repair. The car was not listed as salvage so we bought it from the owner and then sold it on as a project.
David, the new owner of the car, commissioned us to carry out a full rebuild including a body off chassis refurbishment and respray, new chrome, engine rebuild and a possible conversion to an automatic transmission.
David had been looking for a 1969 Corvette for some time and had looked at a car we had had for sale previously but wanted something better. Realising that the only way to get exactly what he wanted was to commission a build himself, this car fitted the bill perfectly.
Davids new 1969 roadster at the start of the project, the damage is more severe than it looks.
Masked and ready for paint stripping. This is a long and arduous task but the one that offers the best results.
The paint stripped and the body assessed. Things are not looking as good as we hoped…..
One door had extensive damage that had been poorly repaired and the other door had rot in its structure, here we are looking at various options to repair or replace the doors.
This video illustrates perfectly the seemingly never ending hidden problems there are with classic car restoration. Here we are looking at unexpected problems with headlight assemblies.
Paint stripped and the front end removed, ready for new bodywork to be installed. This is the point of no return!
Damage was found on the left rear fender so this was replaced.
This video shows the minor windshield frame repairs.
The new front end well underway, nice to see it car shaped again!
Engine removed and part stripped for rebuild.
A lot of time was spent on panel gaps - Better than GM thats for sure!
The bodywork finally at an end. Now its time to get serious…
Here the body is lifted off and set on our dolly. The first time these two have been apart since 1969! The chassis is steam cleaned so we can see what we've got….
The chassis is almost stripped and ready for sandblasting. Look closely at this one, by now the conversion to automatic is underway. I have cut out the factory welded in 4 speed crossmember and am using parts from a donor chassis so we can weld in the receivers for a bolt on automatic crossmember.
The engine back from my machinist, next we paint the block in the correct colour. David has opted for our tried and tested performance package with Edelbrock aluminium heads, camshaft and intake. This will make nice power along with good vacuum and a smooth idle.
With the body on the ramp we can gain access to the small amount of rust in the body mount runners. We will cut out and replace the bad metal.
The Achilles heel of Corvettes, the dreaded trailing arm pockets get repaired on Davids chassis. You can also see the automatic crossmember receivers being welded into place.
The chassis repairs at an end and the frame back in the paint shop.
Work on the engine continues, the roller rockers are installed and valve clearances are set, intake manifold, Holley carburettor, and HEI tach drive distributor and leads are in place.
This makes a stunning motor, and yes, those are stock exhaust manifolds!
This video shows the chassis right after paint and prior to the front and rear suspension being installed.
And then another view after assembly showing the new fuel and brake lines.
The engine is mated to the new 700R4 4 speed auto, this is a magnificent transmission for these cars, and here it is installed on the rebuilt motor and mounted in the restored chassis.
All new suspension bushes, new bearings, new U/J’s, new fuel and brake lines, the list goes on and on. We have also converted this car to power steering.
This is about as close you can get to a new 1969 Corvette without a time machine!
And it carries on to the engine compartment and underbody. The original 4 speed radiator frame has been replaced with a new automatic radiator support. We have also carried out a power brake conversion and everything has been prepped and sprayed satin black.
The big day has arrived and the body and chassis are together again.
And the work goes on….The windshield frame needed minor repair. The new aluminium automatic radiator is installed along with the correct shroud, and slowly but surely everything starts to get hooked up and the engine is run at idle for the first time.
And Boom! There she is…David was struggling to decide on colour, it was a toss up between Steel Cities grey, Laguna grey, or Cortez silver. Cortez silver was the original colour and won by a nose…
Good choice David!
We always pre-fit the trim to any car prior to paint, this guarantees a good fit and ensures everything looks amazing.
The original radio has been converted to run an iPod, We have built an enclosure to house an active subwoofer and a pair of 6x9 rear speakers, there is a pair of 5” footwell mid range speakers and separate tweeters, there is also a 4 channel amplifier under the seat…woof!
The seat covers were custom made for us by Al Knoch in black leather with silver piping. Note the 4 speed auto shift indicator and subwoofer control on the centre console.
The dash and door panels are original, even date stamped 1969!
And the last job as always, fill up with gas and make sure everything works!
My extended road test encompassed some of the finest beauty spots Norwich has to offer, enhanced by Davids beautiful 1969 Corvette of course!
100 miles later, back to the shop for a final clean and check over…What a car…
David came for a final inspection, road test, and to sign the car off….
Smiles all round, I think I’d be smiling too!
And now its time too go home!
This has become a truly wonderful car. Not without its problems, sometimes it felt like one step forward and three back, as is often the case. The end result is more than worth it though. The car looks absolutely stunning. It drives superbly, the 4 speed auto means it will cruise effortlessly in excess of legal limits. The handling is superb, the car is fast, and the sound is amazing….
But above all, just look at it….