Absolutely amazing 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible LS7 Restomod
It isn’t stock and isn’t intended to be. Instead, it’s a distillation of all that’s great about the Corvette, both classic and modern: a booming 427 LS7 V8, 4L80E automatic transmission with overdrive and paddle shifters, custom tubular chassis and C6 coilover sports suspension, a bespoke Z06-style interior, and the incomparable looks of the Mid-Year Corvette convertible. It takes huge guts to turn an American icon into a restomod, but this unreal build absolutely NAILED IT.
They weren’t sneaking around when they painted this one Tuxedo Black, but when you’re driving one of the most fantastic shapes of all time, why not draw a crowd? Finish work is quite good, not like a concours car with its “perfectly imperfect” flaws, but really, really straight and shiny as can be. We’re talking show quality stuff here, a ‘9 out of 10′ only because there’s no such thing as a ’10’ in this subjective line of work, and with only 7799 miles on the build it all still looks showroom fresh with nary a complaint to be had. Several original C2 exterior design elements are still there, from the 1965-era ‘Stinger’ big block hood and 1965-era front fenders with side-vent ‘gills’, to the beautifully sculpted rear end – a look that has defined Corvettes for five generations. Of course, a couple aftermarket components found their way into the build as well, but really tasteful stuff that only enhances the original Sting Ray design: color-matched rocker panels that replace the original ribbed rocker moldings, a centered, quad exhaust-tip setup that mirrors the new Corvette style, and those flashy, C6 Z06 chrome rims. Gaps are precise, the body panels line up better than new, and nothing major was shaved or removed during the build, so they did respect the original design and it still looks like a vintage ‘Vette. Two-stage urethane paint has a brilliant shine that’s appropriate for a valuable icon like this, and all the chrome has been restored to sparkle against that dark paint. If you want attention, there are few better ways to get it than this.
The makeover given to the interior pulls this 60-year-old ‘Vette firmly into the 21st century. Swapped-in Z06 power leather bucket seats fit perfectly inside the reworked cabin, and custom ‘Z065’ stitching in the headrests add a bespoke touch that really helps the two-tone seats pop. You’ll find that same embroidery on the center console (specifically stitched into the arm rest cover) and on the glove box door, and the simple yet refined door panels and plush carpets are the perfect complements to the theme of the build. The original, dual-hump style dash is still in place, although it’s been filled with a host of aftermarket goodies including a full set of AutoMeter Sport-Comp gauges, a Corvette racing steering wheel that’s been mounted atop a tilt column and fit with modern paddle shifters that link to the 4L80E automatic below, and an upgraded Custom AutoSound AM/FM/AUX/SAT stereo inside the center stack. Vintage Air A/C was cleverly installed along with under-dash vents, and for those of us that love to pull e-brake turns on wet streets, that is indeed a working emergency grab-handle brake that was swapped-in from a late-model Corvette. And when you don’t feel like using those paddle shifters, a sporty, cue-ball topped short-shifter imitates the 4-speed manuals of old and anchors the cabin from inside the center console. A glance in back reveals that the C2 has decent storage space thanks to the cleverly installed spears and relocated battery that are mostly out of the way, and should you ever be crazy enough to drive this show car in the rain, a black Hartz convertible top was installed complete with a powder-coated frame.
Mechanically, the old small block is long gone, replaced by a modern tech 427 LS7 rated at a staggering 505HP and 470 lb-ft of torque. It’s a neat fit in the C2 engine bay, and still carries all its original equipment, including the red coil covers that make the Z06 stand out. With modern, electronic ignition and a custom cold-air intake system it fires with ease and is insanely responsive, especially when you consider how lightweight this fiberglass body really is. Thankfully, it handles like a dream with an SR3 tubular chassis that features extra support for all that added horsepower and torque, adjustable coilovers and sway bars fore and aft, modern power steering, and 4-wheel disc brakes punctuated with a Wilwood dual master cylinder, Corvette calipers, and drilled rotors. The aforementioned, dual-mode 4L80E 4-speed automatic transmission was built by the pros at Kiesler Transmission and handles the LS7’s huge power with ease, spinning a swapped-in Z06 rear end with feisty 3.42 gears that help this C2 cruise at highway speeds. Block-hugging headers feed into a throaty Borla dual exhaust system that sounds mean but is still subtle enough not to annoy anyone, and the low-slung body rides atop flashy 18-inch Z06 chrome wheels wrapped with 275/35/18 Pirelli performance rubber.
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Location: La Vergne, Tennessee, United States