It sounds so simple: Take a less-than-perfect vintage Corvette; add later- generation power, chassis, and cabin features; finish in an eye-catching color; and then drive vigorously.
If only building a Vetterod were so easy.
To create this magnificently modified midyear, Dan Francis didn't start with a rare-optioned '67--or an intact car, for that matter. "It was a basket case when I got it," he says of the beat-on body and used chassis--plus crates and boxes full of parts that he found, thanks to his son. "He owns vette2vette.com, a Corvette-salvage company," says Francis. "He found this car out in Streator, Illinois. We paid $10,000 for it at the time, and that was about eight or nine years ago."
One of the younger Francis' customers was Mike Stockdale, of SRIII Motorsports. "He knew that Mike was building tubular frames for C1s," Francis recalls. "I went out and looked the car over, and thought, 'I could restore it, but it isn't stock, and it doesn't have anything going for it, like rare options or a famous prior owner.'"
Francis talked to Stockdale and asked about a C2 tube frame. "He said, 'I don't have a frame to use as a guide,' and I said, 'Yes, you do--right here!' So, I have the first C2 tubular frame that SRIII put out."
01 Custom-stitched C5 buckets...
01 Custom-stitched C5 buckets hold occupants in place through Colorado's twistiest roads.
02 Even Cadillacs didn't...
02 Even Cadillacs didn't have this much in them in '67, like a wood Grant wheel on a tilt Flaming River column, a Pioneer sound system, and Classic Instruments gauges.
03 When it came time for...
03 When it came time for paint, Francis eschewed the more common colors in favor of a custom maroon hue mixed by Frank Faliano.
That was probably the easiest part of the project. Francis entrusted not one, but two shops in Illinois to finish the '67, but neither of them worked out. "I pulled it back here to Colorado," he says, "so I could keep control of what was going on with it, and…do some work on it myself."
Fortunately, Francis located a facility close by that could perform the work he was looking for--Laun's Toy Shop, in Arvada. Even better, it turned out that owner Laun Tracy's vision for the car meshed perfectly with his own. "We talked for a while, and he asked if I was putting it back to stock," Francis says. "When I told him it was going to be a complete custom job with a tubular frame under it, he became interested."
That interest resulted in the completed '67 Sting Ray coupe you see here. One of the biggest challenges came when fitting the C5 bucket seats and power-seat tracks to the C2 cabin. The solution: Lower the floor and fit the tube frame around it, thus creating ample headroom.
Under the hood, Francis wanted something as different as the SRIII frame. "The engine started out as an LS1, and Lingenfelter Performance put it together," he says of the modern-tech/old-school-looking mill, which puts out 420 horsepower at its peak. Backing it are a Tremec T56 six-speed manual gearbox and a narrowed Dana 44 with a 3.91-geared Positraction diff.
04 Instead of the worn iron-block...
04 Instead of the worn iron-block 427 that came with the car, this much-modified LS1/LS6 hybrid provides the power.
05 Not your typical C2 suspension--not...
05 Not your typical C2 suspension--not with adjustable coilovers, aluminum components, and huge, Goodyear-shod Wheel Vintiques Rallys.
The body doesn't look like it got any special treatment, but its previous (hard) life called for plenty of repair and pre-paint prep work before the custom maroon paint (mixed by Frank Faliano at Denver Car Color) went on. Other body features include C5 door handles, a '67 "stinger" hood, and a smoothed firewall in the engine bay. Inside, along with the C5 buckets (which Auto Weave in Lakewood sewed up with leather covers, French stitching, and perforated inserts), there's a custom console, a Vintage Air HVAC unit, a wood Grant steering wheel on a Flaming River tilt column, and Classic Instruments gauges that feature '67 style with today's electronics.
How does this midyear perform, now that it's finished? Just ask Francis. "It's a dream! It drives out so nice, you wouldn't believe it," he says. "The handling is just unbelievable." He adds, "It'll get up and go--then when you get it into Sixth gear, it's right around 70 miles an hour at 1,500 rpm."
Making a Vetterod (or a restomod, if you prefer that term) isn't for everyone, what with the work needed to get it just the way you like. To do that, says Francis, "You have to find someone who you can really work with closely, who understands what you're trying to do."
Once you do that, you're likely to turn a dream and a garage full of parts into a canyon-carver of the first rank, just like Dan Francis' '67.
||Dan Francis; Arvada, CO
||LS6 aluminum, ported and polished
||2.00 hollow-stem/1.55 sodium-filled
||LS6 hydraulic roller
||Stock hypereutectic aluminum
||Stock nodular iron
||Stock powdered-metal steel
||Stock electronic coil-on-plug
||Ceramic-coated Street & Performance headers, Magnaflow stainless-steel mufflers and ceramic-coated pipes
||Tremec T-56 six-speed manual with Hurst short-throw shifter
||Dana 44 (narrowed 3 inches) with Positraction and 3.91 gears
||C5 Corvette with forged aluminum A-arms and QA1 coilovers (front), C5 Corvette with QA1 coilovers (rear)
||C5 rotors and calipers (front), C4 rotors and calipers (rear)
||Wheel Vintiques polished aluminum Rally; 18 x 8 (front), 18 x 9.5 (rear)
||Goodyear Eagle F1; 245/40ZR18 (front), 275/40ZR18 (rear)
||Approximately 650 since completion