Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

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Keywords: 1963 chevrolet corvette,grand sport,ls swap,early corvette,tribute car,corvette replica

Description: Owner of this 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Replica had to learn the hard way about doing business with friends. Read his story here!

How often have we heard about car deals full of good intentions that turn bad? The days when a handshake was as good as any signed piece of paper seems to be a thing of the past. Sadly, in the world we live in, putting pen to paper when doing business is the only way to go, even when it is a relationship that has matured over many years. That was the hard lesson learned by Paul Comeau, the owner of The Corvette Shop in Montgomery, New York. His dilemma began when a client of 30 years asked him to build a 1963 Grand Sport replica. “He told me he was getting this big inheritance,” Paul explains. “I asked him if he wanted to go in with half the money for this kit and he told me that he was getting his money pretty soon.”

After some time invested in researching what was available, one was located on eBay. It was a roller with a well-sorted D&D full tube chassis and a ’63 Corvette Grand Sport replica body built by Pigeon Performance in Canada. It was an unfinished project that the owner had lost interest in so Paul went ahead and bought the car. After getting the Corvette into his shop, his friend’s excuses began to pile up when payment was mentioned. This continued to the point where Paul gave up and decided to build the car for himself as a rolling business card for his shop.

With no interest in building a track ready car, he opted for something with civility, reliability, and a plethora of creature comforts. The first step in that direction was picking the right propulsion for the car. Since he was after reliability with decent performance, an LS376 480 crate engine from Chevrolet Performance was a no-brainer. It offered bulletproof dependability with a comprehensive warranty. Paul describes it best as “plug-and-play.”

The 6.2L mill was backed by a Tremec Magnum six-speed that he pulled from a 2010 Camaro. At the rear, a Dana 44 stuffed with 3.55:1 gears was the choice to distribute the power. When it came time to install an exhaust system, Paul got a little creative and added a set of LS7 manifolds that mate to a 2008 Dodge Viper exhaust system. He also installed a set of electric valves that allow him to run the exhaust through the mufflers or the 4-inch open pipes for that extra rumble.

The previous owner had invested a fair amount of money on the chassis. It was well on its way to completion, with many quality components installed. This saved Paul a huge amount of time and effort in tracking down the right parts for the build. At the front it came with C4 500-lb/in springs with QA1 coilovers, and at the rear C4 300-lb/in springs also with QA1 coilovers. This was an ideal compromise that offered exceptional road manners. The braking hardware installed was also top-shelf, with Wilwood calipers at the front and C4 units at the back, all clamping down on Wilwood cross-drilled and slotted rotors. Also included in the purchase was a set of four American Racing Torq-Thrust II wheels. The fronts measure 15x9 and are wrapped in BFGoodrich Radial T/A 235/60R15s. At the rear, BFGoodrich Radial T/A 295/50R15s are mounted on 15x10 wheels. It also has power steering and power brakes, just like any modern Corvette.

While the chassis presented few problems, the body more than made up for it. As with any kit car, the finished product often depends on the amount of work invested, and the quality of what you initially start out with. With this GS body, the biggest issue that he encountered was the lack of an internal structure. This was evident when he test drove the car and the body violently flapped in the wind, which allowed for wind leaks to come into the cockpit. Since the plan was to have a civilized interior, making the body stiffer would solve the wind problem—that, of course, meant additional fabrication. It took him three months to design and build a complete 1-inch chromoly tube frame that was then bonded to the body with multiple layers of fiberglass. He also installed a four-point rollbar to add some additional safety and structural rigidity. This fix eliminated the wind noise, but did little to shield all the other sounds coming through the thin fiberglass body. That issue was solved with the application of Dynamat to the interior and spray-on truck bed liner on the underside.

Since the original GSs were pure race cars, kit manufacturers have followed that path and created cars with few provisions that allow for any creature comforts. As with many of his previous projects, Paul has opted to source a few pieces from late-model Corvettes. For this build, he installed a pair of leather-wrapped C6 seats, an ididit tilt steering column, and a full complement of Auto Meter gauges. A Pioneer 1,000-watt tuner with built-in DVD, Bluetooth, and satellite radio and navigation raises the driving enjoyment up a few notches. Adding power windows was another fabrication challenge for him. Since the kit doors didn’t come with provisions for any window mechanism, he took a pair of stock mid-year doors, removed the outer skins, and bonded the kit-supplied GS door skins to them.

With all the choices Paul made, you might ask, How good is this car? “I’ve put almost 6,000 miles on the Grand Sport,” he exclaims. “I drive it every day and I’ve even gone grocery shopping with it, and it’s bulletproof.” As business cards go, you couldn’t ask for a better way to highlight your talents, and with this car Paul has knocked it out of the park.

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