The Story of My Corvette

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.

Byrd Photo

Here's the car as it looked in December of 1968. I bet those skinny rear tires made the car a handful to drive!

Byrd Photo

Love the scoops and lack of front bumpers. This picture was taken on Old School Road in Morgantown, just a few hundred feet down the road from where I grew up.

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.

Byrd Photo

Here's how the car looked when it got to my dad's shop in September of 1985. The new front end is just hanging there, but somehow the hood survived the crash.

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.

Byrd Photo

The finished product, ready to go home to Freddy. Notice the Kellison funny car in the background...there was never a shortage of cool stuff at our place.

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.

Byrd Photo

That's me with the Corvette in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This was September of 1988 and I rode in a car seat in the back of the Corvette. Totally unsafe, but I'm still here, aren't I?

Byrd Photo

Here's a shot of the car at its absolute best. We would later move into the house in the background. At the time of this photo, my aunt lived there.

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.

Byrd Photo

This is what the car looked like "when I got it". The Rallyes had been swapped for Weld Rodlite wheels, but everything else was pretty much the same.

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.

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110 thoughts on “The Story of My Corvette

  1. “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” ~ what a sweet line!

    Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! πŸ™‚

    • Ditto PCC! Lovely! Corvettes are a part of my life with my husband and there is something about them that attract magical memeories. We have visited the Corvette museum and factory in Bowling Green at least six or seven times in our lives (as we live about 3.5 hours from it). I will have to post some pix of us out front soon. Congratulations! πŸ™‚ AmberLena

  2. Wonderful story! I’m a fellow car lover except I’m not too good on the techie side of it. Hate to admit my eyes glaze over when talk of horsepower and transmissions starts up. (Guess it’s a woman thing) But I love the wind in my hair and the rush of flooring it! I get pretty freaky (in a good way) about a fast car.

    Can’t wait to read more!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story of this great-looking car. I sold my ’84 Corvette a few years back, as it was becoming a money pit and needed the money for school. I can only dream of one day having what is my all-time favorite – a ’63 Vette…. but I would love to have any C2 when it comes down to it. As you said, the car may need some work now, but it’ll be worth it. Enjoy!

  4. Very cool post, I have a restored ’75 Vette, that I am hanging on to, and will probably give to my son someday. Everytime someone makes me an offer to sell it, I think about my son, so your post brought a big smile to my face!

  5. I don’t consider myself a car guru, nor a Corvette purist. However, I can say I know a bit about cars, and I am a Corvette enthusiast. To me, it doesn’t matter that the engine and front end aren’t factory. So what if the hood is gone and it’s been replaced by that dealie in the top (told you, definitely not a car expert). And maybe the car does run a little hotter than normal. It’s still a beautiful car.

    I am 24 years old. When I turned 18, my grandparents gave me their 1998 Lincoln Town Car with 143,000 miles on it. I have been driving it for six years, bringing that total up to 198,000. I’ve replaced enough parts in that car to have saved and simply bought a new car on my own. It has scuffs, scrapes and bumps in the body and paint, but not an ounce of rust. That car means more to me, and worth more to me than any other car.

    This story is brilliant, and I’m happy to see a Corvette in your hands, as opposed to the snobs that leave it in a climate controlled garage. Safe and happy driving, sir.

  6. Corvettes are like gold dust here in the UK. Would love to have a ’67 Stingray coupe but it’d cost half of my house to get a half decent runner then the other half to run it – for a year.

  7. Congrats on making Freshly Pressed. This was a great read. I especially enjoyed the thoughtful placement of the pictures throughout the story. Reminded me of my younger days when I was blessed in finding a 34 Dodge in a five window coupe, which I had for many years. There is not a month that goes by that I regret deeply selling that grand lady.

  8. This post about your car is pretty cool. I remember my very first car, a 1970 Mustang with a 302 engine. Man, I loved that car so much I drove it until it literally fell apart — the back axle cracked, haha. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money to repair and refurbish it, but that car is still THE car of my life.

  9. Nothing beats American Muscle! Great post about a great car! In the near future I plan on building a rod but considering ‘Stangs, Camaros, ‘Cudas, and Chargers are so damn expensive, I’ll have to search craigslist/ebay until I come across a good deal. I’m also big on 30s-50s trucks with a modern powertrain.

  10. Cool story and cool car. Much better than my 4 door gas hog ’69 Chrysler New Yorker with a 440 and a 4 barrel carb. Even at a $1 a gallon that thing ate me alive on gas. It got maybe 10 MPG.
    Nice pictures of the “vette too!

  11. exotic cars, there are only a few in Indonesia. if conditions are good the price is very expensive because its a collector’s item

  12. What a cool thing for your dad to do. You don’t just have a car but a terrific memory. You should print out a copy of this blog and put it in the glove compartment of the car for your son to read someday.

    • That’s a great idea! I just hope my dad knows how much I appreciate the fact that he introduced me to this hobby and lifestyle. I’m so glad he took pictures through the years, because it gave me a great history of the car, as well as other cars he owned and built through the years.

  13. Great story ! Love when a car gets passed down from generation to generation. Hot looking car ! I won’t hold it against you that your dad put Imron on it. << ( I'm a PPG selling woman! ) Can't wait to read more.

    -Holly

    • Lol, he’s always been a Dupont man. He was always a big fan of Imron (before they took the lead out of it) and he still likes to use Centari acrylic enamel. He’s old school. Thanks for reading!

  14. Reminds me of the old Datsun my dad bought when he first started working in the 1970s. It was his very first car and he’s kept it to this day. He’s been working on it forever, saying he is going to restore it. Guess cars are like first loves to most men.

  15. Ah, those cars are nostalgic. And you gave me an idea…maybe I could write about The Story of My Cave or something like that πŸ™‚

  16. such a beautiful car.. and so magnificiently you described it in your blog..
    waiting forward to see the next part of the story… plzzzzz upload whats now of the car.. is it the same way as it was wen u were 16 ?…

  17. Great story! I enjoy stuff like this because I’m a huge car nut and I’m all about sentimental value. That Corvette is a mean looking thing. Take care of it!

  18. Now that is what we love to see. Love of a car and I think it is wonderful that you are viewing this car as a piece of family heritage to be handed down with this great story, One of our biggest thrills is getting to hear stories from classic car owners on what they’ve gone through to maintain and rebuild cars from days past. Cars that actually have character.

  19. Pingback: “Freshly Pressed” « Two Wheels and a Girl

  20. Tommy that is a great story about the car and its great to hear that you are going to pass it on to your child. I say child because some of us just have wonderful daughters to pass things on to. What i like most about the story is that I know that you and your dad have a great relationship and that is somthing that is missing in alot of young mens lifes today. I know the story was about the car but what i what i read was how much respect you have for your dad and appriciate the things that he has done for you and taught you during your life. I read where someone thaught you shouldnt be obsessed with a car. I personaly think he needs to read the story again, I think you used a great car to brag about having a great dad and your intentions to be a great dad to your child. Always rember that any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad!!!!

  21. A blog after my own heart! What you have is a “cruiser”. It’s not a concourse show car, it’s a little rough around the edges. To the casual viewer, it’s GORGEOUS! But since you know it’s history and every little ding and scrap, it’s YOUR car (ok, it’s dads) and you’re damn proud of it! SO DRIVE IT! That’s what it was meant for! I have two vintage Mustangs. Neither is pristine. Both have wracked frames, second hand paint jobs (one needs it really bad) and they’re cantankerous! But we love to drive them and we don’t care what other people think of them! We drive them to car shows and people appreciate the fact that we love the cars. Vintage car owning is a brotherhood! Some take it a little too seriously and look down on people who don’t have the perfect cars. They’ve missed the point completely!
    I also have a Corvette (you can see all three of these cars on the right hand side of my blog-pictures aren’t the best but you get the idea). It’s a ’74. We bought it from a friend for next to nothing. Unfortunately, the interior was ripped out and boxed up. The prev. owner was trying to insult it from the extreme heat in Oklahoma and change the color from tan to black. All I could do was shake my head. So we’re in the process of ripping out all the insulation and we have the back end of the interior together, we just need the dashboard (I’m talking gauges, radio, lamps, dash, you name it-PITA!). But it’s a pretty car. I love it. It has a 350 under the hood. And I’m sure some of those 195 horses have left the corral.
    Love your story! My heart sank when I saw it just sitting after it was wrecked! You have a special car there. Hang onto it no matter what!

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