1965 Corvette Convertible C2

1965 Corvette

This 1965 Corvette Convertible was bought on Ebay, imported from upper NY state, USA and landed in Durban, June 2011 with lots of help from my friend, Ash Waldorf in the States. On arrival, it was in a shockingly worse condition than what it looked like on the internet. Generally 80% was there, but in reality….in a bad state of decay and abuse. Just about every part had to be imported & replaced new to finish the car. The 327 engine block and Saginaw gearbox, that came with the car, was for export & eye blind uses only, and not of any benefit or use to me, They were sold to the scrap metal dealers.

The body itself was cracked & delaminated in over 20 different places and was made up of at least 4 different donor Corvettes and joined together with a thin layer of fiberglass and resin and a thick layer of Bondo on top. It was deceptively sprayed with rattle can, matt black, to mask the defects & imperfections. The dash was broken in over 8 places. The chassis was bent, dinged and rusted badly. Both headlight mechanisms as well as the convertible roof were extensively broken and unusable.The side door frames, window mechanisms & inner panels were also in a terrible state. It was at some time also used for target practise, as it had 3 bullet holes in the left door and closed up with Bondo. Every piece of glass, including the windshield was either cracked or broken. Not one emblem was salvageable. The only semi-good items were the front and rear bumpers, which were re-chromed to make them fresh again.

It was completely stripped and categorised (we found lots of American acorns under the seats). The chassis was sandblasted by Marius Raaths, primered and stored. The complete body was sanded down, by hand, to usable raw fibre and built up again, layer by layer, to the correct shape. This arduous, difficult and timeous task was expertly done by Bern van Gass.

We decided to fit a new ’67 Hood (it looks more imposing) instead of the inherited ’65 one, as we were not building a numbers matching car, but a resto-build with modern components and the latest racing suspension and brakes. 

A new Jim Meyer full racing suspension kit was imported from JMR Oregon in the States. It consisted of new upper and lower A-arms with the correct angle to eliminate the dreaded bump-steer on early Vettes. The kit also included 4 new QA1 shocks, 2 stabilizer bars and new bushes throughout. It included Wilwood calipers and new discs all round. New & essential Vansteel (2 inch) offset trailing arms were fitted to the rear suspension to make space for our wider American Racing Torque Trust II wheels to fit snugly in the wells. A custom turnbuckle-type modification had to be made on the control arms to eliminate negative camber.

The LS1 engine was sent to Dave Corbett, who fitted a new 90mm Holley throttle body, new coil packs, and the LS front located sump switched to a new Holley rear aftermarket type. Dave had to change the oil pickup from front to back as well. This sump swop is a prerequisite to clear the new rack & pinion setup. The motor and 4L60E gearbox was sprayed Plascon coarse silver. The stock diff was serviced and is sprayed to match.

The instrument cluster was sent to Speedo Services for refurbing. Barry van Niekerk built the custom radiator, aluminum power steering bottle and snorkel for the MAF sensor and air filter.  A brand new fuel tank was imported, modified to gravity feed, sprayed silver and fitted. A new Holley Blue, electric fuel pump was used for this application. A 60’s Mercedes Benz oil cooler is fitted behind the front valance and a Speedway Motors sourced electrically-boosted master cylinder was also imported and used.

The chassis and complete body with the same attention to detail and finish, top & bottom, is sprayed Corvette Torch Red.

The lower side rocker body panels were colour matched to give the side view of this classic car a modern twist.  Not all the badges and emblems were used, as leaving some off, gives this Corvette a slicker look. The outer door locks were purposely closed up as well. A new white convertible roof was bought from Anton de Lange and was fitted by Doors Bezuidenhout who also did the upholstery. Dynamat was prelaid under a thick pile, black house carpet.  The original seats were reupholstered in black leather and most of the chrome trim and components in the cab are resprayed black to give a contemporary feel. We used Flowtech aftermarket ceramic coated headers and the rest of the exhaust system was built by TNT and is totally heat wrapped. The wiring & electrics was done by Clint and Wesley Mann.

Bern has made a slick center storage box, between the seats, under our armrest for keys etc. He also fabricated over 20 extra custom bits, including the fiberglass fuel rail covers, all of which are sprayed red. The rear bumpers were tucked in 1inch to give this Vette a tighter, sexier rear end. 

This Classic, HEAD TWISTING, Corvette looks stock from the outside but has renewed LS muscle under the hood, as well having the right upgraded suspension and drive train. It drives, handles and hugs the road like a new up-to-date race car, and is mega thrill to drive !!!