My 1967 Corvette History by John Painter (@jcpstrat)
March 1, 2020 is the first time this car was licensed for the road since the late ‘70’s.
The resurrection of it started in 2014 when I pulled it into the garage.
I bought this Vette in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1971 from a car dealership when I was single and 25 years old. It had the original engine and transmission which were the main items I was interested in. I traded in a 1966 GTO for it. The Vette was listed at $2,850 and I got $1,000 for trading in my GTO. The Vette was my only car and became my daily driver. In 1972 I met a girl who I would marry in 1973. The following pic was taken while traveling on our honeymoon in Williamsburg, Virginia.
This Vette continued to be my daily driver but with 120,000 miles on it and transmission issues I decided to take it off the road and start fixing it up. Then life got in the way. My wife and I decided to move and build a house. So basically with the Vette half-way taken apart I packed up the parts in boxes to store and had it towed to our new house where it sat initially in our garage. After that we started having babies, 3 boys. With a growing family it eventually got moved outside with a protective cover over it on the driveway. I knew that wasn’t good for it to just sit and several times I talked about selling it but each time my wife talked me out of it. In 2002, while parked outside, it and our house were struck by lightning. The protective cover over the Vette was melted on both sides near the rear wheels. When I lifted the cover up, both slotted mag wheels had spots where the metal was melted so the lightning bolt apparently went in one side and out the other side. The ground on the passenger side also had a hole in the ground, just off the driveway. Apparently where the lightning started or ended. It’s just a guess for what path the lightning took when going through the car. Sad to say the car sat until 2014 when I turned 67 and I thought it’s time to get started on this ’67 Vette if it’s ever going to happen.
The interior, doors and bumpers had already been taken off/out of the car back in the late ’70’s so my first step after pulling it into our garage was to pull the body off the frame. The wife was definitely surprised the day she opened the garage door and the body was hanging from the ceiling and the frame with drive train was sitting off to the side. With it being a daily driver in Northern states that use a lot of salt on the roads during winter and then being outside in Kentucky where we can get some very high humidity, those things combined to take a serious toll on the frame.
I had a person, who restores mainly C2 Corvettes to Top Flight NCRS condition, examine the frame and he said it was beyond saving. Beside the obvious problems i.e. holes, tapping the frame rails with a hammer showed most of it to be VERY thin. After looking the rest of the car over he suggested maybe just selling it as a donor car might be my best option. In reality the car was so worn out and in such poor shape that about the only thing of value was the body, engine and transmission, which were all correct for this car.
My goal was to try and make this car as close as I could to what a brand new 1967 Corvette would have been like if I had purchased it new but also a little more practical for interstate driving (hence the 5 spd transmission), a new A/C system (for reliability), along with 70’s appropriate wheels/tires (just for good old times). Everything
that could be reconditioned has been and what couldn’t be reconditioned is new … either original or reproduction i.e. carpeting, seat covers, door panels.
I love looking a NCRS correct Corvettes but I just didn’t want to own one, I wanted a C2 Corvette to drive so I started looking for a replacement frame … not just a frame but a rolling frame. I ran across an ad for (6) C2 frames and the pictures showed them all stacked up against a wall. I called and asked if there were any rolling frames and I
was told there were 2 and both came from ’67 Vettes. I could feel myself getting excited and asked where he was located and it was just about an hour’s drive away. I asked if he could send pics and he said no. I asked why and he said the weeds were grown up too high around them and he couldn’t get good pics. At this point my interest died and
I guess he could tell and he said you won’t find a better rolling frame than these and said he had just rolled them off the driveway about a month ago but with spring, the weeds just took off. I still didn’t think this was worth checking out but since it was relatively close I asked my wife if she wanted to take a ride with me to look at them and she said sure. Thinking this would be a bust I didn’t take any cash or checkbook but we got there and sure enough there were 2 rolling frames both with drive trains and one had parts of the birdcage still attached. He said go take a close look and I would see they just had light surface rust on them, no scaling. Sure enough he was right and I was really interested in the one without the birdcage and asked how he came about it. He said he had purchased a ’67 Coupe out of Texas and drove it a few years and then put it up for sale. Then a company in Indiana contacted him and only wanted the body to make a Resto-Mod. I said I wanted it but not the engine or automatic transmission so we made a deal on a handshake and then my neighbor (who has a truck & trailer) and I went up the following weekend and we trailer’d it back.
From there I took the frame apart, wire brushed most of it and sandblasted the other areas I couldn’t get to with the brush. It was then treated with a metal conditioner and painted with Black POR-15 and then re-assembled. The only things I salvaged from the original frame were the differential and half-shafts, transferring those items between the frames. I ended up selling my original rolling frame in 2019 to the guy I got the replacement frame from. Turns out he had a C2 body that he needed to ship to California and he needed a rolling frame to bolt the body to just for shipping purposes.
Many many days/hours were spent the summer of 2016 with me wet sanding the body by hand to remove everything down to the fiberglass. Each day I would push the body out of my garage on it’s dolly and work on sanding or cleaning … even cleaning the underside.
Body work included cleaning out the old repairs and redoing them. Even grinding out the body seams and re-filling with new adhesive and sanding smooth. After the body work was done it was coated with Duratec Vinal Ester to seal the body.
It was then primer’d and block sanded multiple times.
The engine was rebuilt to original specs by a local engine builder. I replaced the original close ration Muncie 4 spd with a new 5 spd Tremec transmission and replaced the original factory A/C with a Vintage Air A/C system. The interior looks stock but Dynamat was used on floor, doors and roof panels. Dynaliner was used on firewall and for under the carpet a C2 thermal & noise kit from VetteNuts was used. Other than these items and the wheels/tires it basically looks the way I had it in the 70’s. I’ve saved all the original parts.
It was finished with Glasurit Marina Blue base and clear coats by
a local business called Paint Solutions in Lexington, Kentucky as shown in first picture.
Originally it was built with:
- L79 327cid/350hp engine
- Close ratio Muncie 4 spd transmission
- Ralley wheels
- Marina Blue outside with Bright Blue Interior
- Air Conditioning
- Telescopic Steering column
- Power Brakes
- Power Windows
- Leather Seats
- Speed Warning Speedometer.
It now has:
- Its original rebuilt L79 327cid/350hp engine
- New Tremec 5 spd Overdrive Transmission
- US Indy Polished Slotted Mags w/235-60R15 BFG T/A radials
- Marina Blue base/clear coat paint with Bright Blue Interior
- New Vintage Air A/C system
- Telescopic Steering Column
- Power Brakes
- Power Windows
- Power Steering
- Leather Seats
- Speed Warning Speedometer
- Side Mounted Exhausts.
- Refinished original GM Teakwood steering wheel (was on the car when
I bought it but that was not an option for 1967).
The Day I Probably Helped Sell Some Corvettes with this ’67.
I was attending Marquette University the summer of 1972. Marquette Campus was just outside of downtown Milwaukee in Wisconsin. I was also dating a girl that I would marry who also attended Marquette but in the mornings she worked at her fathers store in downtown Milwaukee. In the afternoon she would walk from her fathers store to campus, which was about a mile walk. It was a beautiful summer day and I decided I would drive downtown to try and find her and give her a ride back to campus. As I got near the center of downtown it was crowded with people walking to and from lunch on this beautiful day … I mean it was really crowded. I saw my girlfriend walking and quickly pulled over to the curb, beeped my horn and motioned for her to come to the car. What I didn’t realize was there were also 2 other girls in between my girlfriend and me. All three of them started running to my car and one of the 2 other girls opened the passenger side door and had one leg already in my car when I motioned to both of them to step back so my girlfriend could get in and then we drove off. What everyone else saw on the busy day was some guy in a Vette stops his car, beeps his horn and then takes his pick of which girl gets in.
The Other Rolling ’67 Frame With A Partial Birdcage
While looking at the rolling frame and asking the guy who was selling them questions, I asked how he came by the other nice rolling frame with a birdcage that looked like someone had taken a chainsaw to it. He said that the ’67 that it came from belonged to a young couple that were getting divorced. The car was hers and the husband in a fit of rage took a reciprocating saw to the car and cut the fiberglass and most of the cage to shreds.
The Previous Owner
When I was taking the car apart in the late 70’s I came across an card that had a name and Milwaukee, Wisconsin address on it. I was able to match a phone number to name and city and call and it turned out to be the previous owner. He told me that he thought he was the official 1st owner of the car but it had some miles on it when he got it from a GM executive who had been driving it. Also said the car had been hit twice, both times while it was sitting still. When the paint was stripped off the car, the damaged areas were right where he had told me, the driver side rear and the passenger side where door meets front fender.
I told him I now lived in Kentucky but had family in Milwaukee and asked if when I got it fixed up if he would like to see it the next time we traveled there and he said “No”. That caught me off guard and I asked if he would tell me why he didn’t want to see it and he just said “I never should have got rid of it”.
Article by @JCPSTRAT