Story richard Truesdell / Images Richard Truesdell and Edward Peghin

Corvettes and television go together like tea and honey, going all the way back to the Corvette’s inception in 1953, when both were in their infancy.

To many, the connection reached its height with Route 66, which ran from 1960 to 1964 on the CBS network. Tod (Martin Milner) and Buz (George Maharis, whose character was later replaced by Linc, played by Glenn Corbett) took to the highway and the Corvette was forever linked to the Mother Road.

In the years since, Corvettes have starred in prominent roles in dozens of other TV programs, movies, and popular culture.

At the same time that Tod and Linc drove off into the sunset, there was a Corvette that was to become an icon of the marque, the Grand Sport. Developed by Zora Arkus-Dontov, it was a lightweight racing version of the Corvette whose styling mirrored the then-new C2 Sting Ray. Over the years, countless Grand Sport replicas and tributes have been built, some based on C2 Corvettes, others on custom frames.

But what if you could combine the styling cues of the original Grand Sport, but underpin it with the state-of-the-art chassis of a C6 Corvette? That question wasn’t lost on Dan Woods, host of the popular wrenching show Chop Cut Rebuild (CCR) that airs on the SPEED Channel along with Laurent and Mike Bensaid of Corvette Specialty of California (CSOC), located in Riverside, California.

Chop Cut Rebuild works on concurrent builds over the course of 13 episodes. In its seventh season in 2010, the CCR team worked on two start-to-finish build-ups. One was a 1969 Dodge Hemi Charger; the other was a Corvette Grand Sport tribute built on a contemporary C6 chassis.

The build was planned in late 2009 and early 2010 with the design and renderings – by CSOC’s in-house artist Gaston Gardeazabal – completed in mid-February, 2010. This would give the CSOC and CCR teams less than nine months to complete the car in time for its planned debut at the 2010 SEMA Show. Dan Woods is a very hands-on host, so he had the opportunity to do something that most of us can only dream of, cutting up and modifying the bodywork on a current-generation Corvette.

While the car would be fitted with an E-Force Edelbrock supercharger, many of the segments would be centered on the extensive modifications to the body. This presented a dilemma to Woods and series director Ed Peghin, who noted, “We quickly realized that documenting the Grand Sport, or GS as we called it, would be a challenge. How much entertainment could we extract from the build of a fiberglass vehicle? Designing a vehicle out of fiberglass is a laborious and painstaking process that does not make for exciting television once the viewer understands the process. How much filler, sanding, gluing, and more sanding, sanding, sanding can we show beyond one episode?”

Starting on the morning of March 18, 2010, Laurent attacked the C6 ’Vette like a man on a mission. Front bumper, rear bumper, rear fenders — all removed. The rear window, gone. The interior was stripped down to its barest essentials.

With the first segments in the can, it would be a month before the CCR team would return. When they did, the CSOC team had applied the fiberglass and filler to the rear and the seductive shape, with the split-window treatment, was taking shape. Dan Woods got an education in the art in applying fiberglass, which was chronicled in front of the CCR cameras.

As the bodywork progressed, maintaining a rigid schedule, attention turned to the mechanicals. In addition to the planned modifications under the hood, the GS was treated to a comprehensive suspension upgrade with components supplied by Pfadt Race Engineering in Salt Lake City, Utah. But there was a complication in the build process.

With winter moving into spring, the economy impacted the build. Mike and Laurent had to deal with several small family-owned suppliers going out of business, threatening to derail the build process. The solution was to purchase a second Corvette to install the mechanical upgrades while the body fabrication would proceed on the initial car.

Next, the CCR team visited the Edelbrock facility in Torrance, California, to detail the fabrication of the E-Force supercharger that would add 200 horsepower to GS. For the next episode, they returned the following week to CSOC with the hardware to document the installation of the E-Force supercharger on the second C6. This was followed by the installation of Baer brakes and Rated X wheels, designed by Jason Rushforth of Rushforth Wheels in Huntington Beach, California.

While the mechanical upgrades on car two kept the project on schedule, Laurent and Mike redesigned the Corvette’s stock interior. The interior received a complete facelift, with the stock trim replaced with leather and suede everywhere, in shades of black and gray accented with contrasting blue stitching. When the installation was complete, there was no low-rent vinyl to be seen anywhere in the cockpit.

Over the last two months, molds were produced so the rear-quarter, split-window treatment could be applied to the second C6. This was followed by painting, cutting, and buffing of the now-completed bodywork. Like many similar efforts, the design is polarizing with some loving it, while others have their reservations. One thing is certain: the craftsmanship is flawless, in a way that reflects well on everyone connected with the project.

Combining two generations of Corvettes into a single car is something that many have attempted. Getting the two generations to mesh perfectly is elusive, but not in this case as everyone connected with this ambitious build has something to be proud of.

The fact that every important step of the way was documented by the cameras of CCR (and is available for purchase as a DVD of the seventh season), make this a special treat for ’Vette fans.

Andy Bolig

The auction company is generously donating valuable auction time for the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation (CMCF) to auction a completely refurbished 1969 Riverside Gold Corvette Stingray coupe as lot #57 (charity lot 3001).

For the third year in a row, the CMCF has been privileged to run a Corvette through the Barrett-Jackson auction. Over the past two years, the auction has raised almost $80,000 for the charity. The Foundation is hoping another bidder will generously step up and become a part of automotive history in purchasing the 1969 Stingray. All net proceeds from the auction of this Corvette will go toward amyloidosis research.

Chip Miller was co-founder of Corvettes at Carlisle and Carlisle Events in Pennsylvania. Chip was very well-known and loved in the Corvette community worldwide but in March 2004, he passed away from a little-known disease called amyloidosis. The Chip Miller Charitable Foundation (CMCF) was formed to help spread awareness of this disease and raise money for educational and research purposes.

The Foundation’s goal is for earlier diagnosis to affect better treatment outcomes. If Chip and his doctors were aware of the symptoms of amyloidosis when they first presented, he might still be with us today. The mission of the CMCF is to empower people with the knowledge and understanding of amyloidosis for earlier detection, ensuring a better quality of life for those afflicted with the disease and to help science find the cures.

The 1969 Corvette Stingray is generously being donated for the third year in a row by San Diego Classic and Muscle Cars of Escondido CA. It is being offered at no reserve and is a rare, one-year color in Riverside Gold with a saddle interior. It features a matching numbers original 350ci V8 with an automatic transmission, fresh repaint, new interior, and brand new Firestone wide oval redline tires that are authentic to the car. 
The Corvette also includes:
• Factory air-conditioning, power windows, steering and brakes, tilt and telescoping wheel
• New bumpers, new emblems, new door handles and new rally wheel derby caps, big block hood
• Owner’s books
• VIN: 194379S715336

In addition to the new tires that were donated by Coker Tires, Reliable Carriers Inc. will ship the car at no cost to the buyer anywhere in the contiguous United States. So, that’s no auction fees courtesy of Barrett-Jackson and no shipping costs AND all the net proceeds go to an important cause – everyone should be bidding on this beautiful Corvette!

This refurbished like-new Corvette was made possible by our generous sponsors Mid America Motorworks and Trim Parts. The winning bidder will also receive a huge basket of car care items from Adam’s Polishes and the ultimate Corvette experience with four free passes each to the Bowling Green Assembly Plant and to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. Finally, the winner will be able to join us at Corvettes at Carlisle with their free fun field pass in August 2012 courtesy of Carlisle Events.

During the 2010 Auction, the “auction experience” featured the first-ever wedding at Barrett-Jackson (click here to read more). The newly married couple, Donna and Joe Miller (no relation to Chip Miller) drove the Corvette onto the block at auction time. “I’m not sure we can top that,” said Lance Miller, Chip’s son, “but we’re hoping three times is a charm to help us fight the terrible disease that took my father too soon.”

Tune in to Speed TV to watch the action – the car is lot number 57 (charity lot 3001) and is scheduled to roll across the block at approximately 7:00 pm Arizona time on January 17, 2012.

Andy Bolig

“If what you see is what you get, it may not necessarily be what you paid for.”

There’s a special place in heaven for those folks who have persevered, felt the sting of despair and isolation but, somehow, pressed on to see a pile of parts become their pride and joy.

John Marshall knows that all too well. While many enthusiasts have the privilege to see amazing cars dwelling among shows and featured in magazines, John is rooted in the knowledge that invariably, many didn’t start out that way. Case in point is this amazing and super-powerful ’68 Corvette.

One glimpse under the raised hood of this racy red ragtop and you’ll be smacked right between the eyes with a fistful of aluminum 510ci Donovan mountain motor. This fuel-injected powerhouse sounds great, but before it ever came to life, it went through hell.

Some astute enthusiasts might recall seeing this very monster ringing the bell at 198K as it crossed the block in Scottsdale during a previous Barrett-Jackson auction. While that speaks for its current level of detail and performance, that wasn’t always the case.

John Marshall first contacted AE contributor Chris Petris, of Petris Enterprises and Corvette Clinic Inc. fame, explaining that he had a “’68 Corvette that had all the pieces and just needed assembled.” Apparently, the car was started at a different shop, but the level of work wasn’t up to par with what John envisioned.

Chris headed to South Florida with his trailer to pick up the “some assembly required” Corvette. What he found, shocked both he, and the car’s owner. When Chris arrived, all of the parts, sub-assemblies, and even the engine block and rotating assembly were sitting on the curb, outside of the previous shop’s locked gate. So much for bolting it all together. In Chris’ words, “Here sat this all-aluminum Donovan with rotating components in the South Florida grass and sand. Our paperwork said the engine was assembled and dyno-tested.” If what you see is what you get, it may not necessarily be what you paid for.

As Chris unloaded the parts from his trailer and started documenting the situation, it became obvious that this project suffered from a similar fate as many others — the lack of a clear, concise plan for the project. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t big blueprints for the car, just that they weren’t all on the same sheet of paper. There was a plan for upgrading the entire suspension to C4-grade components, an honorable intention. But, by installing the torque arm for the differential, it all but eliminated the ability to install the passenger’s seat and required the majority of the floorboard and tunnel to be modified. Those gleamingly chromed side-pipe headers that sound so cool didn’t have a prayer of reaching around the modified chassis components either. Another object that went unnoticed until someone tried to line it all up was the core support. 1968 Corvettes use a very similar core support as a ’67 Corvette with limited radiator area available. This becomes a real issue when you consider the 700-plus horses that were planned to live under the car’s hood. That is, if you could close the hood. Turns out that the engine proved to be a couple of inches too high, and at that point, it might as well been a mile.

As the parts began to flow toward the project car, it became even more obvious that at least some would never fit. Items like the ’68 having the ignition on the dash. But, when your “new, but purchased a while ago” dash panel is for a later ’69 version, you’re stuck wondering where you’re going to put the key! Sometimes, one year does make a difference. When the Corvette Clinic installed the custom-built Boyd Coddington wheels, it became obvious that the sleek lines of the Corvette were perched up more akin to a 4×4 than a sports car.

One mistake that many projects suffer from, this one especially, was that the body was painted with the assumption that everything would fit. This fault became more obvious — as things repeatedly didn’t. The ’73 front end that was grafted onto the front of the car was painted with the body. Problem was, no one checked to see if the accompanying marker lights and grilles would fit in the openings. They didn’t.

Once Chris knew what he did, and didn’t have, he knew what he needed to do. That began with lowering the engine 1½ inches and raising the body a full inch. That allowed the hood to close so that all of the panel gaps could be adjusted. But, it created a problem between the crank pulley/harmonic balancer and the crossmember, which needed to be notched to make room. That eliminated the ability to use a typical C4 spring arrangement, so a set of QA1 coilover shocks were implemented at every corner, allowing for ride height adjustments as well.

Chris fabricated custom mounting brackets that used urethane-bushed mounting points to keep the differential planted, instead of the C4’s factory torque arm. The floorboard, trans tunnel and anyone who would ever reside in the passenger’s side of the car breathed a sigh of relief. Truly, this project was living in its darkest hour, but it’s always darkest before the dawn.

As parts started to fit together, the project began to gain momentum, and those grand plans for the car from the beginning were starting to be realized. A set of Baer brakes bolted right up to the chassis and, while they were at it, a complete ABS system was integrated into the car’s abilities. The controller and module were mounted in the rear compartment of the cabin, just like it would have been in a C4. All brake and fuel lines were run in stainless steel with Mr. Gasket Shadow series aluminum fittings and hoses. That issue with the core support was rectified by modifying it to mount a custom Ron Davis radiator with C5 cooling fans fitted for faster cooling.

Chris first focused on making all of the components fit before worrying about making them pretty. That meant that the car was assembled, and disassembled, several times before any further painting or polishing was done. Once he was satisfied that the surprise gremlins were properly exorcised, he began spraying all of the chassis components in red or silver urethane and the body went back into the body shop for another fresh coat of red. Upon returning to the Corvette Clinic, the rest of the car was assembled including that red and faux silver carbon fiber-inserted interior.

As the car came together, John’s dream of finally enjoying the car came into focus and, since he lived in South Florida, he wanted to be able to enjoy the car year around. That’s why this monster has at least one creature comfort, a Vintage Air A/C unit. Even after so many years of toil in trying to realize what his vision of the perfect ’68 Corvette could be, John was now able to hit the key, drive in style and rattle the windows in his gated Miami suburb. It was more than a little gratifying.

Even more gratifying is when someone else appreciates your work and effort just as much as you do. That’s where Barrett-Jackson comes in. You see, when it came time for John and his beloved Corvette to part ways, he wanted to give it the respect and exposure that it was due. He knew that while the sweat and tears had long since dried up, the evidence of their existence would become obvious under the hot lights in a big tent. He debated the sale of his Corvette for some time and then decided it would be best to head west with it to the B-J event. Those who remember, it’s no secret that the phone bidder who wanted John’s car the most was willing to pay $198,000 for it. But John was assured that it would be going to a good home when he saw who signed the paperwork, none other than Sylvester Stallone! Sly has since been seen around Tinseltown in this ’68 Corvette. Apparently, he couldn’t be happier. Neither could John Marshall. “And they lived happily ever after.” What more could you ask for in a great story, even if it started out as a tragedy?