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Restoration Advice



As some of you may have previously read, I just bought a 67 convert. I am having a hard time deciding how to restore it. I work full time and sometimes travel for work, so my time is limited. Winter in Chicago is cold, so I would like to work on the car in the winter but drive it in the summer.

I have been extensively involved in the restoration a few first gen Camaros, so I am confident I can do the work. The car is in good shape now and drives well, but I would like it to be perfect. The entire suspension and brakes are brand spankin' new but the rest of the chassis needs detailing. The motor has never been rebuilt as I still have to add lead to the gasoline. The body has been poorly repainted and has minor spidering. The interior is in good shape, but needs covers, carpet, panels and cleaning to be perfect. The car has 67,000 original miles.

Is it feasable to restore the car in stages so that I can drive it in the summer (ie. interior one winter, body the next, then chassis, then engine rebuild and detailing) or will I be wasting a ton of time? If so, anyone ever done this? What would be the best order? Any advice would be appreciated. I would like to get started, but need a plan and a starting point.

Sorry this message is so long. Jake
Let me start out by saying we are all fortunate to have this web site available to us. The guys here are great and are right on!
Anyway, I've been restoring cars (frame offs) all my life as a hobby. I got to tell ya, its been my experience to do it all at once assuming you have the cash flow. I also live in the Chicago area and in the process of a full body off restoration on a 66 roadster. To do it right, and again this is just my opinion, start with the chassis, drive train, body, and lastly the interior. I figure you can do it in about 2 years if you do all the work yourself. This has been my experience and also my goal. This is my first vette restoration and I gotta tell ya, I had to make special tools for the trailing arms, a fixture for the body lift and a dolly for the body.(I didn't want to take a chance on goofing up the fibergass) Anyway good luck if I can help let me know!?


Hi! Jake

If you get a chance, check out the NCRS archives. I am restoring a 1965 Roadster for my wife, and when the restoration is complete on the 65 I will start the restore my 61 270HP.(I am driving the 61 untill the 65 is complete) I asked for advice on the topic of body-on vs. body-off restoration. The experiences and knowledge of the members was very helpful in my decision to start a body-off restoration.

Forums like Corvette Action Center and NCRS are very helpful to us fist time Corvette restorer.

Thanks to all! for helping me with my first restoration!!

Jake, I agree with Joe and 61. Start with chasis and drivetrain first. As you will probebly know, the chasis is the hardest work and, for a reliable ride, the most important. You "can" drive an ugly vett (See past posts on "the ole (brown) 74" Or just ask Tom, I'm sure he'll tell you about it:eyerole. However, you can't drive a pretty vett that won't run or somthing breaks everytime you take it out............I will however, admit that In my oppinion, it is easier and cheaper, in the long run, to do it all at the same time (and have someone else do it :cool) and be done with it..........Good luck.....Steve
Or you could do it like me. Tear it apart and take 31 years to get it back together. Oops, sorry. Going on 32 now, but now I have my shop finished and things will begin to happen.

Buck up

First of all, this site is fantastic. Very helpful. I will have to check out the NCRS site as well.

I guess I will have to just bite my lip and do it all at once. I am sure that I will have a better understanding of what a frame-off will take and be able to form a game-plan once my restoration books arrive. It helps that much of the chassis work was done and done well already.

My b-day is coming up...hope my girlfriend can afford a compressor and a bunch of tools.
Frame off or not

I'm going to add a little more to this discussion from the standpoint of extensive restoration + little time + lack of a well equiped shop = 3 decades later and still not finished. There have been more basket cases/unfinished projects for sale over the years than you can count that all began as well intended 1 or 2 year frame off projects. Change of interest. finances, and just life in general can cause delay upon delay. The longer your car sits in the garage apart the more it becomes work and the more you have to force yourself to go out to the garage. The fun dissappears rapidly if you run out of money or get married and other things become priorities.

You have to be honest with yourself on what you want out of a Corvette.

*Do you want a perfect car in every detail that will win all of the big awards? If so then the summer driving and enjoyment is on hold until all of the trophys are on the shelf. You can't keep a car in top show condition and use it regularly too.

*Can you afford to spend what is necessary to complete the project correctly on a reasonable schedule? That includes buying what you need in parts, supplies and tools plus being able to pay for a shop to do what you can't or complete what you now don't have time to.

*Do you forsee any events in your life during the next couple years that would make a cash consuming hobby out of the question? House, family, job change ect.

*Did you buy your car to drive and enjoy and are you willing to waite 2 years or more to do that? And after all that work to make it perfect are you willing to actually take it out on the road and get it dirty?

If your car needs all of the components rebuilt and paint and interior then a total restoration is in order. If you have a sound chassis and if it runs and drives well and you are not going on the trophy trail I think you should give serious consideration to the winter project approach.

The chassis is done, all it needs is detailing. That can be done body on and you would be back on the road in the spring. There are posts and pictures here on the CAC of some beautiful chassis detailing done body on.

The engine/trans rebuild would be next years project. Detail the engine compartment while the engine is out. Back on the road in the spring.

Strip and refinish the body the next winter. Fresh chrome as needed and new rubber items also. Back on the road in the spring.

If that paint job went quickly you can do the inside at the same time. If not then next winter you can strip out the interior and restore the inside of the car completely. And again, back on the road in the spring.

I know that you will take good care of your car and the first work will still be nice looking when the last work is done. Plus you get to drive it and smile. There is no shame in driving a less that perfect car while you are doing the restoration.

One other point. There is a growing faction in NCRS and elswhere that thinks it is inexcusable to restore a good mostly original car and loose all of that history forever. I overheard a well known solid axle restorer, while looking at a NCRS top flight '62 that was a nice original befiore the frame off say "Another piece of history distroyed".

Just my thoughts for what it's worth.


Hi! Jake

I would still recomend that you do your homework, and then do what is best for you and your car. My 65 was stored in a barn in Western NY for twenty years. The car was not driveable and the condition of the car helped in my decision. I will evaluate the process prior to restoring the 61. I enjoy the restoration process, the hunt for the parts. I have the tools, equipment, and the time needed to complete a restoration project. Thanks
to all theCorvette owners that provide information needed to preserve and keep the Corvette running.

Have fun, keep learning, and let us know how you make out.

By now you have had a chance to digest some of the best advice I have ever seen on the subject of restoring a Vette. Especially from Tom. He has laid out the real world better than anybody I have seen here at CACC. It is a post that bears rereading and has alot of thought & straight shooting in it.
The books are great reading, and give you a good idea what its all about. Theres lot and I mean alot that goes into a full body off restoration. Its very hard to describe how hard it can be sometimes.
My cousin has been restoring Vettes & building steel bodied 32 & 34 Ford roadsters all his life. he has gone fulltime now for about 4 years. So I have seen firsthand all it takes. Its incredible to witness everything thats involved.
I hope this thread has given you something to think about in terms of what you will do with the 67.
I am impressed by the folks here at CACC, this was a great thread!
Tom, That is the best I ever heard a restoration explained, ever. I hope you don't mind if I copy and print that post. I would like for everyone possible who is even thinking of retoreing a car, any car, to read what you said. I continually try to explain that to customers and friends. Now I can just hand them a copy and tell them to set down and read (for those who can:( .........Thanks...........Steve

I'm flattered. Just the voice of experience here. That Trans Am on my web page took 4 years for just a cosmetic restoration because I built a new house and moved. I drove it out to the new house with all of the rear sheet metal and quarters off and the rest clamped together with many Vice-Grips. My '67 442 that was on the web page got sold because it needed a frame off to be done right and I just wasn't in any position to do it with the '59 still apart. My '59 on the web page was paint stripped in '71. It has been moved and stored and moved ect several times along with the family and 2 different wives and I forget how many houses. It was too big of a project for what I had the time, shop and money for when I started it. I would have been better off to have fixed that pesky crack and drove it with a primer area on it for 30 years until I finally got a proper shop. At least I could have had some fun with it.

Looking back I would have done as much as I could, one thing at a time so I could still drive it, up to the point where it had to be disassembled for paint. 20-20 hindsight.

Thank You

Thanks to all of you who have given such valuable advise. This thread has definitly led me to rethink my decision and weigh all of my options. Also, to think more about what, in the next few years of my life, will affect my time schedule and monetary situation.

The most important reason I bought this car was to have fun. Not that restoring isn't fun, but, as many of you may know, it can become a drag if not properly planned and executed.

I have a nice, mechanically sound car that runs and drives like a dream. I would like to restore it sometime in the next few years, but I am not going to rush into something until I have a plan and time...two things of which I do not have alot of right now.

What a fun decision to have to make. Cruise one of the coolest cars ever built...or restore it to make it even better. I am glad to be so fortunate. I guess I can start accumulating parts if I feel like doing something. Might as well get the money spent in case I decide to get married.
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Great information folks and it all hits home for me. I live in Downeast Maine with black flies, moose and lobsters but very
few corvettes. BEFORE I bought my current vette, I did my homework to buy the best possible rust free west coast car to DRIVE. I am 57 and didn't want to be crawling under a car for the next 3 to 5 years. And yes my car is a candidate for body off and I
am a NCRS member, but I prefer to drive the car while I can. George.
Welcome to the CAC George. I see you have had a nice group of Corvettes in the past.

Thanks for the welcome, this is a great site for vette lovers. I have been fortunate to own several neat vettes, each was special. The '64R, '67R and '72 were purchased new. Keep up the good work. George.

I would like to reiderate what a great thread this is and say thanks to all the people who contributed. Your advise, as always, is an invaluable source of information for all in our hobby.

I started my restoration last fall and all this discussion hits the nail right on the head. I orginally palnned on a two year time frame to complete my '65 convert. The more I thought about it and started laying out a time-line), I don't think I can complete the project in 2 years. I'm re-thinking it and 3 years is probably closer to reality for me. Employement situations can change in a heart beat, work around the house that needs to take presidence and anything else you can possibly think of can and will happen. It all ends up with delays. :(

The one thing I'd like to add is I've spend more time researching this project than I ever thought I would. I also wouldn't start a project like this until I've read all the books available from cover to cover atleast once; read all the posts on Corvette Action, the NCRS site, and any other threads out there; and finally, I'd show up at as many swap meets and car shows as I could. I would go as far as to say I wouldn't attempt a restoration of any car until I spent 4-6 months doing these things. I'd also come to the realization that the research won't stop once you get started, it'll only get more intense. Getting educated about the current prices, availablilty and quality of the parts you are about to shell out good money for is a monumental task in itself. If you don't do the research, it'll just cost you more in the long run.

Whatever happens, all I can say is have fun with it.

NCRS #37140
'65 Convertable 327/365
Re: Thank You

jwalsh said:
The most important reason I bought this car was to have fun. Not that restoring isn't fun, but, as many of you may know, it can become a drag if not properly planned and executed.

I have a nice, mechanically sound car that runs and drives like a dream. I would like to restore it sometime in the next few years, but I am not going to rush into something until I have a plan and time...two things of which I do not have alot of right now.

What a fun decision to have to make. Cruise one of the coolest cars ever built...or restore it to make it even better. I am glad to be so fortunate. I guess I can start accumulating parts if I feel like doing something.

My feelings exactly. I also am more and more starting to agree with what Tom said earlier in the thread about just leaving it be since it is mostly original and it runs and operates fine for the most part. It seems that restoration is becoming less and less likely because I don't want to be afraid to drive the $20 car that I could spend $40k restoring. I'll drive it and enjoy it. It may not bring home any trophies to put on the shelf but I have the best trophy already and it isn't on a shelf; it's parked in my garage and I take it out for all the world to see.

Hey Rich, once my brakes are done you're welcome to drive my shark if we happen to meet up at BK again this year. It would do you good to get behind the wheel of one, even if it isn't a mid-year:).

I'll be at BK and I'll take you up on the offer. I'm considering buying another vette due to the fact that mine won't be done in the foreseeable future. I really miss the enjoyment of driving the car instead of looking at one in pieces. Question is, or better yet, what to buy, that I can drive and enjoy, given my meager means.....

Looking forward to a new season at BK.

There are some nice mid '70s and early C4s out there for low prices. Just spend some time looking carefully and check them over. Don't need another needy car taking money away from the '65.


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