The Reluctant Corvette Body Off Basket Case Project

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Somewhere in San Diego, a Corvette Forum member is giving this 1969 basket case a serious body-off restoration. 

Like many of us, Corvette Forum member Glenn likes a good restoration and build thread. So, when he took on this 1969 Corvette basket case, he started documenting the restoration. Then, while working on it he bought a 1969 350/350 Corvette to drive for a while and really enjoyed the power.

Ironically, as the same time I was working on this one, I saw a 69 on ebay that seemed like it was in great shape and going cheap. I thought, maybe I can drive that one while I am working on my project. I bid on it and won. The car was a wonderfully original 350/350, the same engine as my basket case. It drove great, but it made me realize I wanted more power from my basket case project. So I sold that car and now the 69 project is going to be a hot rod instead of restoration.

When Glenn says it’s a basket case, he’s not kidding. This ‘Vette must have been left sitting for quite some time. Amazingly, the engine actually ran but unsurprisingly a couple of cylinders had low compression. It also leaked water from just about every seal. After being told by CorvetteForum members the engine would come out with the hood still on, he did just that. Then, inside the bell-housing, he found more evidence of how long the ‘Vette had sat still in the form of mice and wasp nests. Rodnok1 has had experience with wasp nest and more:

Mud wasps, mice… All you needed was an opossum and you’d have the trifeca.
Those wasps invade everything around here. Had a new fuel rail sitting on bench when son noticed the little sob’s going into it. I would have never known and caused me a ton of heartache figuring it out.

I have to keep everything taped shut laying around for both those and paper wasps.
Started an old chevy truck and sounded like marbles in flywheel from their nests. Brand new lift and they got into motorfans.

The good news though is that can be cleaned out easily enough, and the frame checks out as being solid. As far as basket cases go, this one is in relatively decent shape underneath.

Cleaning the frame is where the thought of taking the body off took root. It would be easy then to clean and protect the areas he couldn’t otherwise reach. Glenn realized it was just 8 bolts to come off but, as we all know, it’s also the start of something big. Glenn also knows that hence his reluctance and telling his wife not to let him take the body off.

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Expecting the bolts to be seized anyway, he tried undoing one. When it broke loose, his fate was pretty much sealed:

I thought, maybe I will just quickly raise the body, get to the areas I couldn’t get to with the body on, and then quickly put the body back down. That way I wouldn’t get sucked into doing everything….

At this point I made critical mistake. I started looking at body dolly plans. I really didn’t want to take all the time in building a dolly, but my wife was headed out of town for the weekend to visit her parents, so I printed out Alan’s dolly plans and headed to Home Depot, “just to take a look around” Here is what I came back with.


By the end of the weekend, he had built the dolly to help remove the body from the frame. At the current point of the restoration, the body is at the shop and having welding repairs and being prepped for paint. We are eagerly waiting for updates on the work and to find out what he’s going to do with the paint and the engine.

You can follow the build thread here for updates, more details, and even more pictures.

Ian Wright is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites. Check out his podcast Both Hand Drive.

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