If you pay attention to this blog or see my Facebook, then you know that I have a ’64 Corvette coupe that isn’t necessarily a purist pleaser. I mention the car all the time in my blogs, and have plenty of great stories involving it, but I have yet to explain the history of the car on here. I don’t know a detailed history on the car, but I do know quite a bit, as it’s been in the family for more than 25 years. It came from the factory with a 365 horse 327, a close ratio Muncie (M21) four-speed transmission and a 4.11 gear. Revealing only these specifications, you can tell this car was quite a screamer in its day. Low geared, light weight and lots of power, thanks to a solid-lift small block.
At some point in the mid-60s the car was sold to a guy named Freddy Best, who is a resident of Dayton, Tennessee. He drove the car hard, which resulted in several wrecks. By 1968, he had done away with the front bumpers, added a pair of hood scoops and installed a set of “Drag Mag” wheels and narrow whitewall tires. It was the stuff. My dad says he can remember going for a ride in it back then, and that Freddy used to let multiple kids ride in it at a time. Unfortunately, a serious crash put the car on the back burner for more than 15 years, so it sat in a barn, awaiting repairs.
In 1985, Freddy asked my dad to get the car back on its feet, and to redo the whole thing. So, while my dad hung a new front end, installed fixed headlights and straightened up the body, the engine was rebuilt and set aside. A new engine–a 350–was built by Jim Conner and set up for a hot new street supercharger, made by B&M. The transmission and rear end would remain stock, but the engine would be anything but original, boasting much more horsepower, thanks to the polished B&M blower. My dad painted the car just a few days after I was born, and at the time, he was a big fan of using Dupont Imron paint. With the limited color selection for Imron materials, he chose the closest thing to stock, which was called Medium Blue…simple enough. When my dad finished the car, it had a weird hood scoop, white letter tires and a very high stance…not exactly my favorite look, but I have to keep in mind that dad didn’t actually own the car at that time.
Shortly after finishing the car, Freddy stopped by the shop and told my dad he was thinking about selling his Corvette, as he planned to get married. My dad was interested, because the price was right. At a total cost of $7,500 plus a quickie paint job as part of the deal, my dad bought the freshly restored Corvette. I’m not sure if it was his idea initially, but at some point he decided this would be a car he’d hold onto and eventually give to me. This is unusual behavior from my dad, as he had MANY chances to double and triple his money on the car throughout my childhood years. As soon as he bought it, he got rid of the oversized tires and wheels, replacing them with skinny Rallyes and 8-inchers on the back. Stainless bands and police caps finished off the look, while a much lower stance was created by cutting the front springs. He ditched the hood all together, installing a Mr. Gasket street scoop atop the Holley carburetor and B&M blower.
Resisting the urge to make killer money off the car, he handed over the keys when I turned 16 years old. I had other vehicles at the time, so this obviously wouldn’t be my daily driver–in fact, I didn’t even drive the car for several months. My dad rode with me the first several times I drove it, making sure I understood the ins and outs of the car. Here’s what I learned:
1. The brakes are terrible. Unpredictable darting is a normal thing.
2. It runs hot. A .060-over 327 with a 100-percent overdriven blower and 4.11 gears is not a good combo.
3. The shifter hangs up. My dad warned me of the tricky shifter so much that it was a major worry in my mind.
On one of our trips to town, the throttle was hanging up just above idle, so dad we stopped at the grocery store parking lot to see what was up. As it turns out, the street scoop had shifted slightly putting the linkage in a bind. After fooling with it for a second, he blipped the throttle from outside the car and it hung wide open. The 327 wasn’t a super special engine, but it sure snapped to 8,000rpms quickly! It scared us both and after we fired it back up, he decided to drive home for obvious reasons. By the time we get a half mile up the road, the car starts running hot, and dad figures we can make it home since we’re about a mile away at this point. Well, apparently the high revs threw the belt so we had no water pump action. The car ran extremely hot, but it didn’t appear to hurt anything severely. So after years of anticipation, I was able to drive the Corvette on my own, without my dad in the passenger seat. It was a great feeling to finally be able to pilot the car, but the old 327 was near the end of its life, as the extreme heat cycle had collapsed at least one ring, causing it to smoke and lose power.
Nearly 10 years after getting the car, I’m getting less and less offended when people say, is that Troy’s car? At first, I wanted people to know it was MY car now, but the more I think about it, the more I know it’ll always be his car. Even when I give it to my kid, it’ll be his car in my mind. The old car needs a lot of work to be as nice as it was when dad built it in ’86, but maybe someday I’ll have a chance to tear it down and give it the attention it deserves. For now, I guess I’ll just keep driving it, and thrashing on it like my dad did for all those years.