I first spotted the Corvette when my nephew turned up with it at my house about 16 years ago. Up until then I had never thought about Corvettes, I had been involved with motorsports, mainly Hill-climbing and Sprinting with a bit of rallying and rallycross thrown in. Most of this was done in Minis (old style) until I moved on to single seaters in the hillclimbs. However when I saw the Corvette I was smitten, I thought it looked and sounded like the dogs doo dahs. A year later my Nephew Mark was heading off to Thailand, he wasn’t sure for how long and not wanting to part with the ‘vette was struggling to find somewhere to keep it so I volunteered to look after it for him. Some 3 years later and it was apparent that Mark wasn’t coming back so we did a deal and the ‘vette was mine.
After a couple of years of working on the car myself, I was realising that there was a lot more work to do than met the eye, and with me now working mostly abroad I was not going to have enough time to put it right. Then my Dad died, he was a car nut himself, he and his brother raced and rallied cars in their youth and my father running his own garage business. When he left me some money, I gave some to my kids, spent some on our house and it was fitting that I put some aside for the Corvette.
After some research I settled on CorvetteKingdom in Norfolk to do the work and the car was sent down to them. Scott who owns CK very quickly realised that there was to be no quick fix and a full chassis up restoration would be required; the pictures he sent me backed this up. The chassis under several coats of underseal had been plated in several areas and rust was apparent at the rear suspension pick up points. Under the paint-work there was also some serious problems with the fibre glass bodywork (all Corvettes have fibre glass bodies). After some discussion we agreed on a body off restoration.
18 months later in May 2006 I flew down to Norfolk to collect my car, throughout this period Scott had kept me updated with CD videos of the ongoing work which included a new small block engine modified to produce 450hp, a close ratio 6 speed Tremec T56 gearbox (as used by Aston Martin and Dodge Viper) replacing the original 4 speed manual box (contrary to popular belief over 50% of all Corvettes were produced with manuals) and a custom rack & pinion steering system to replace the older Pitman arm, re-circulating ball rack. He had also added ‘Smart Struts’ to the rear suspension which greatly improved the handling and sports brakes with Hydroboost taking the place of the brake servo.
The car looked stunning in its original Marlboro Maroon and with the roof panels off (they have rarely been on since) we set off to our hotel. Scott had asked that we stay the weekend doing as much driving as possible (oh the hardship) to try and get 500 miles on the clock before we set off for Edinburgh on Monday, this we did in glorious weather, even taking in a car show with several other Corvette Club members. On Monday we reported back to CorvetteKingdom where they changed the oil and filter and gave the car a thorough check over before we headed north.
On arriving home the first problem had to be overcome, would it fit in my 1920s garage? It did with about 15cm front and rear, to make sure I parked it correctly a tennis ball was hung from the roof which just touched the windscreen when the car is in the correct position.
The modifications were not finished though, since I was not keen on the tyres that were fitted. The car was capable of speeds in excess of 150 mph and it was running on tyres more suitable to a Transit van, so I ordered custom 18” wheels in billet aluminium from the USA, these were exact replicas of the original 15” Rallye wheels. When these arrived they were booted with Pirelli P Zero’s and fitted to the car. The difference to the handling was huge and immediately apparent. Since then I have further improved the handling with double adjustable aluminium shocks with coil-over springs, aluminium upper ‘A’ arms to the front suspension and a front strut brace.
Driving the car is now a joy, the close ratio gearbox linked to a 4:11 limited slip dif provides phenomenal acceleration and we have with the help of GPS timed it at about 4 seconds to 60mph and about 8-9 seconds to 100mph. On runs with friends including some ‘spirited’ driving I can comfortably keep pace with TVRs and Ferraris. I receive most comments about is the noise, the 2” pipes and Magnaflow mufflers do a terrific job!
Five years on and with a couple of exceptions the car has been trouble free, we have done several trips round the Scottish Highlands with Pistonhead chums, there was a trip to London for an Anglo Dutch Tunnel Run with some Dutch Pistonheaders and a trip to Spa for the annual 6 hour race weekend which we combined with a trip to Nurburgring. One exception was a trip to Doune Hillclimb, a stop at a petrol station and a wheel spinning exit led to one of the half shafts twisting itself like a wet rag, this pulled the wheel on that side into the inner arch bending a suspension bracket and seizing that wheel. With the AAs help we got the car home and the half shafts were replaced with a pair strengthened for drag racing.
The other problem I had was tuning the Edelbrock 4 barrel carburettor that came with the engine, the problem was eventually traced to the main slow running screws which like several of the older Webber carbs, screw into a venture in the base metal of the carburettor wall. These screws have heavy springs on them it’s very easy to puncture the inner wall of the carb ruining the jetting. So I replaced this carburettor with a Barry Grant Speed Demon 750cfm carb. This is probably the only carburettor design from scratch in the last 40 years with the body, float chambers etc machined from billet aluminium. Apart from solving the problem this also resulted in a significant improvement in pick up and a much improved throttle response.
Why a 1970 Corvette Stingray? I love its looks, its power and its noise. It makes old ladies smile, young boys ask questions and other car enthusiasts wave their appreciation. It drives like a modern sports car and surprises the uninitiated who think that all American cars don’t handle, in short its fun with a capital F!
You can see the full specification and photos of the rebuild and others on my website at www.GraemeInglis.com