In July 2006, The C3 section of CorvetteForum.com held a "best-of" contest. Best Engine, Best Interior etc. I took second place in the "Best Exterior" voting.
Here I am at the first car cruise after I worked out most of the bugs in the 454. It was a beautiful day for a car cruise in Forest Hills, Pa. My lopey cam and un-muffled side exhaust sure turned a few heads that day. I'm having hood clearance problems though as you can tell in the picture. Something is stopping the hood from closing. I haven't been able to get the L-88 air chamber in the hood to seat on the L-88 air cleaner base as it should.
But the engine is awesome. Gobs of torque at the tap of the accelerator. If one has the means, I highly recommend it.
Cruisemeister, from Corvette Forum, is sitting in the chair behind his mostly original '62....except for the ZZ4 he has under the hood.
Here's an older picture from around 2000 with me at a local car cruise. It still shows the original small block hood with the stripe running down the center.
If rebuilding an old Corvette was easy everyone would have one.
Above, you can see the difference in the side pipe covers. I removed them, bought a little longer stainless steel bolts and painted the top of the insulators with hi-temp black engine enamel. I think the darker insulators, which is actually what bolts to the rocker area, looks better than the original gray-ish color. The stainless steel screws really stand out against the black insulators. I think they look much better than the original stock setup.
I also have the 454 numerals installed in this picture. I took my time to make sure I had the location as accurate as I could be fore I started drilling holes in the hood.
-----------May 2000----Welcome, this saga started in May 2000, right around Memorial Day. This is our current Money Pit. After much persuasion, my wife, and I decided to partake in our next project. A 1970 Corvette Stingray, 350-350 4sp Coupe.
I think it might have been an omen, when after driving home about a 1/4 mile there was a loud POPING sound coming from the engine! The engine still ran and I managed to nurse it home another mile. It turned out that the carb needed to be rebuilt! And I only owned the car 15 minutes! Was this a sign of things to come? I didn't listen to all the warnings from Mindy and all the nay-sayers before buying this Vette. So I persevered. Not having the time to spend diagnosing the problem, I took the '70 to a local garage and after a couple days, a mechanic called back to tell me the carb needs rebuilt and that this would cost about $400-500!! A new one I asked him? Well that would be about $500-600 if he could still find one, this being a 30 year old car!
Well it was at that point I decided that I would perform as much repair and restoration work as possible. For I had already priced a suitable replacement carburetor for less than $250! That's when I realized that the only way I could be assured of quality work would be if I fixed my Vette myself. I'm not a mechanic, but have done my share of repair work and hot rodding vehicles.
In the past I had fixed or replaced head gaskets, starters, cams, shocks, coils, exhaust, intakes, carbs and headers. Some of the projects I'd been involved in was helping my brother-in-law in transplanting a Hi-PO 350 engine in a 1970 Chevelle. We worked every weekend we could getting it to run. We also removed a Cuda 360 and installed it in a Duster! Some of the cars I've owned in the past and had hot-rodded were a '67 VW Beetle, yes a BEETLE! I installed headers, fender flares, wide tires and Crager Mags. That was my first exposure to modifying.
My next car was a '67 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400, 330HP. That car was a real screamer. I installed headers, full dual exhaust, Edelbrock Intake and Holley carb. If the trunk hadn't rusted out from under I might still have that car today. A true muscle car. I owned this car during part of my college years, from 1972-1976 and used it year round, even in the snow. Apositraction Firebird with studded snow tires...what a ride.
My next vehicle I bought new when I graduated from Pharmacy School in 1976. It was a 1976 Firebird Tran-Am 455 4speed. My fascination with Detroit Muscle cars continued. I missed out on the 1975 455 Super-Duty Trans-Am but this was the next closest Poncho. But this was the mid '70's and the EPA and Cafe' requlations had severely hit the muscle car industry. I couldn't buy the 427 AC Cobra I read so much about in high school.
---------------------------------UPDATE: 6-23-01 as you can see I've upgraded the Corvette with mods & repairs but never bothered to change the web site. I decided to leave the original text as is and just add-on as we go. You'll get a better idea of where I started. The pictures on this page are the New American Racing Torque Thrust II's. They are 16x8 and are matched with 255-50-16 Goodyear Eagle HP-Ultra-Plus tires.
Also new on this page is the L-88 hood from Ecklers. There is a picture on page 6(I think) of the air cleaner and fresh air chamber which will mate to the hood.
After I installed the 454, October 2004. During the rebuild I was intrigued by the Baldwin Motion Vette's. You'll see some of the Baldwin Motion influence in my Vette, the paint scheme, fuel filler, side exhaust, air cleaner etc.
In 1969, GM enlarged their small-block again to 350CI(5.7 L), and in 1970 the 427 big-block was enlarged to 454CI (7.4 L). Horsepower peaked in the 1970 and 1971 models, with the 1970 LT-1 small-block putting out 370 hp (276 kW) and the 1971 454 big-block having its last year of big power with 425 hp (317 kW). In 1972, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement for horsepower (away from the previous SAE Gross standard), which resulted in numerically lower horsepower numbers. Along with the move to unleaded fuel, emission controls, and catalytic converters, horsepower continued to decline and bottomed out in 1975. This put the base ZQ3 engine put out 165 hp (123 kW), and the optional L82 engine put out 205 hp (153 kW). Horsepower remained fairly steady for the rest of the C3 generation, ending in 1982 with the 200 hp (149 kW) L83 engine.
Nothing exceeds like excess, and the '70-454 Corvette was a perfect example. Between the car magazines, published brochures, and what was really available, there was almost as much confusion as there was power.
What John Q. Public was actually able to drive home from the Chevy dealer was the 390 horsepower, LS5 454, which wasn't too shabby. The LS5 option was reasonably priced at $289.65, and 4,473 LS5- equipped Corvettes were sold in the half-year of 1970. The extra cubic-inches pumped up the torque to 500 lb-ft. Even though on paper, the LS5 looked like it had lost 45 ponies from the 427/435 '69 big-block; on the street, the difference was nil.
Power figures for GM cars was kind of a black magic shell game. For years GM wouldn't sell cars with more than 400 cubic inches. That changed in '66 when the 1965's 425 horsepower L78 396, became the L72, 427 that pulled 425 horsepower. So what was the real power of the 427? The L72 almost got a decal reading "450 horsepower," but corporate politics downplayed the figure. The '67, '68, and '69 L71, 427/435 tri-carb engine was rated at 435 horsepower, but was closer to 450 to 475 horsepower. All of the Detroit power numbers were somewhat misleading because published figures were "gross" power ratings. Engines were tested without mufflers, accessories, or even a fan. Real cars have all sorts of power-robbing aspects, but it all makes for great bench racing.
There were several 454 variants that were very interesting. The 450-horsepower, LS6 454 never made it into the Corvette for '70- , but was an option in the Chevelle. Then the LS6 showed up as an option for the '71 Corvette, but was de-tuned to 425 horsepower. Even more exotic was the LS7 454, rated at 465 horsepower. This option was listed in the Corvette shop specs, but only one was "officially" made. The LS7 was a stroked version of the L88. Supposedly, Duntov gave a wry wink, and signed the order to have all LS7 prototypes destroyed. Sometime between 1973 and 1975, an LS7 was stolen from Chevy Engineering by a few guys who jumped the fence.
Perhaps the most unusual 454 prototypes were the LT-2 and the LJ-2. The LT-2 was a 454 version of the all-aluminum
ZL-1. Increasing the stroke on a high-revving racing engine probably wasn't a good move. The LJ-2 was a 454 version of the solid-lifter 427/435 tri-carb L71. This beauty was rated at 460 horsepower.
By the end of 1970, the party was over. Rising insurance rates, tougher emissions regulations, and no-lead gas put a lid on things. In the long run, big-block engines took the Corvette away from "sports car" to "street bruiser." Duntov liked the power, but didn't miss the weight of the big-block. But oh, the wonderful sound of a big-block Corvette!
The History Of Baldwin-Motion Super Cars
From 1967 to 1969, the hottest street Corvette was the 427/435 L71. Not a bad ride for most folks. But Joel Rosen isn't "most folks."
Rosen owned Motion Performance in Brooklyn, New York in the late '50s and '60s, and was having considerable success as a local drag racer-tuner. In '67 Joel struck a deal with the owners of Baldwin Chevrolet, in Baldwin, New York, to make 427-engine versions of the new Camaro. When the '68 Corvette came out, Joel knew that he had to make a special red-hot version. The '69 Baldwin-Motion SS-427 Phase III Corvette was born.
The deal with Baldwin Chevrolet was that Motion would perform all of the conversion work and the car's warranty would still be maintained. To keep everything balanced, the car was beefed up, inside and out! You simply could not miss these cars. Even sitting still they looked nasty and serious. A '67 427-style hood scoop was grafted on top of the stock 427 hood along with a Pontiac hood-mounted tachometer. The wider tires were covered with wheelwell flares. Side pipes were either '65-'67 style, '69 style, or Hooker Header side pipes. An optional fastback window opened up the luggage space. Finished off with a unique stripe design, the car looked like a killer.
The 427 received an 850 Holly three-barrel on top of a high-rise manifold. Ignition used a modified Mallory setup with Ramcharger wires. Other goodies included a close-ratio Muncie four-speed, blow-proof clutch, heavy-duty suspension, and 60-series tires on Anson Sprint wheels. Every Phase III car was guaranteed to run 12.50 et @120 mph with a M/P approved driver at a NHRA or AHRA track.
Unfortunately, Rosen was a high-profile, big fish in a small pond. In 1974, after seven years of building super cars, the Feds threatened to shut down and fine Rosen $50,000 per car for violation of the Clean Air Act. Rosen's lawyer explained that he wasn't operating a huge assembly line. Luckily, Joel got off with just a $500 fine, but the party was over. That's what a little too much success, publicity, and horsepower can do to you.
Recently, Rosen was able to buy back the last Phase III Corvette he made, a 1974 model.
How long did it take me to find my Vette?
I started looking at auctions onYahoo.com about 1998. I looked for about 2 years and during that time I had to soften up my wife who was not keen on the deal. After looking for almost 2 years at auctions, I decided that I wanted a Vette older than 1974. I preferred the chrome bumper Vette's to rubber. I also put a ceiling on how much I wanted to spendÖ....which was $10,000.
For $10,000 I thought, at that time, I could get a decent Vette. I know I wanted a pre í74, 4sp without pollution/emission requirements. Everything else didnít matter. It didnít need AC, PS etc Iíd take a coupe or vert, just had to be a 4sp.
Ironically one showed up at a dealer where I had previously bought and older Mustang. He wanted $9,999 but the car needed work. I bought it 2 weeks later for $7,000.
--------May 2000---We buy our first Corvette!
Our Corvette has 86,000 miles and was originally an L-46, 350-350. It was the 11303th Corvette produced in 1970 of a total production run of 17,316. 10,668 were coupes that year and 6,648 were convertibles.
It now has a Holley Street Dominator manifold and Edelbrock 1406, 600cfm. The NOM engine block dates to 1969(3932388). There is NO PB, NO PW, NO PS, and NO AC! Just what I wanted, and NO emission compliance.
To date, some of the repairs I've made include: new carb-Edelbrock 1406, fuel pump, plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, rotor, SS brake lines, replaced the outside door handles and locks, replaced the missing aluminum radiator overflow tank, replaced the missing seat belts, new stock ram horn exhaust manifolds and a MAD 2.5 in chambered exhaust system.
---UPDATE: 6-23-01 I replaced the Edelbrock carb with a Holley 3310 750cfm dual feed and added a 1 inch TD step spacer. These two mods will help raise the carb to the proper height to mate with the L-88 hood/air chamber.
While I was replacing the carb, I added Summitts fuel pressure gauge and dual feed fuel line. Other changes are the SS braided lines from the new Holley fuel pump to the carb with AN fittings.
May 2000-----Some other repairs which need addressed are: complete front suspension, rear trailing arms, SS brake calipers, LT-1 or L-88 hood and American Racing 200S wheels.
The interior is the original vinyl, which I'd like to convert to leather along with a new carpet. If I win the lottery I think I could fit in a ZZ4 or maybe a 502. Our Vette isn't a daily driver so there's no hurry in making repairs. I would like to have the suspension finished for Carlisle 2001.
---UPDATE: 6-23-01 Obviously I've made a few of the repairs listed above. In the winter of 2001, I completely replaced/repaired the front suspension. I replaced everything---ball joints, CA bushings(poly), tie rod ends and shafts, coil springs, rotor, wheel bearings and everything else I could. It was a dramatic improvement over the 30 year old suspension.
I removed all the pieces, sand blasted what I could, painted the pieces with POR-15 and topcoated with black gloss Krylon.
While I had everything apart I cut 3/4 of each coil spring. This gave me the "lowered" look I was after. I still think my '70 could go down another 1/2 inch or so. Let me know what you think. By performing the repairs myself, I figure that I saved between
$750-$1000 in labor charges.
To add a little color to the wheel area, I painted the brake calipers with Red Devil Polyurethane Red paint. A hi-temperature paint wasn't really need since the calipers ordinarily won't heat up. The Vette calipers are so huge that a little color in the wheel area really sets off the aluminum wheels.
I first bought the Vette with the thinking that Iíd have something of me to leave to my two lovely daughters. Something that is valuable and no longer made. Something that I put blood sweat and tears into. A chrome bumper Corvette. My daughter Nikki remarked one day that if something should happen and Iím not able to finish the Corvette that she would make sure that it does get finished.
I think Nikki and Alexis enjoy the car. Both riding in it and going to the local car cruises with me. I enjoy having them take an interest in the car and spending time with me.
But thatís a long way off. This car is far from being finished. Iíve had the car 5 years now and have done a ton of work on her. However, I still need to re-do the interior and rear suspension. Everything else is new or rebuilt.
Between 2002 and 2004 I was concentrating on acquiring a suitable 454 to rebuild. Then, once I found a block, came the reasearch to find the proper methods and parts that would work together giving me the best bang for my buck.
From 2004-2005, I finished the 454 rebuild, added a rebuilt race-prepped M-22 tranny, added an original 1969 Factory side exhaust (I bought used), new drive shaft, a pair of 2003 C5 seats, Impact Racing's 5 point racing harness and a Shark Barģ. That was enough. I wanted to finish the interior but ran out of time and money. Actually all thatís needed are the door panels, which I have and carpeting.
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Updated January 2008
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