Upgrading my father's 1976 Stingray

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Upgrading my father's 1976 Stingray

leere68 leere68
I watched Corvette Summer | Posts: 2 | Joined: 01/08
Posted: 01/01/08
09:01 PM

My father has recently purchased a new Shelby Mustang Cobra and I have taken is 1976 Corvette.  The car is in stock condition with the exception of the A/C unit using the coolant rather than freon.  It's in great condition, but it hasn't been driven in some time and somethings need some work.

Dad has given me the green light to do anything I want to the vette, he'd just like to see it fixed up.  I'm planning some major upgrades in the future and was wondering if anyone here has any suggestions and advice as how to proceed.  I unfortunately don't have a lot of hands on mechanical experience and will be relying on a shop to do a lot of this work.  It will take time and money, but maybe one day I can get this beauty of a Stingray looking and performing as it should have been made using today's tech.

My thoughts are to do this in three phases.  First is to fix and upgrade a lot of the mechanicals like the brakes (dead), suspension, the headlights (vaccum pumps/tubes dead), etc.  Second, I was thinking about replacing the engine, transmission, and electrical systems.  It has the L-48 engine with the 4-speed tranny and I was thinking about replacing that with a LS1 or LS2 keeping with a manual transmission.  Third would be updating the interior and exterior of the vette.  Replacing the vinyl and adding a new stereo/nav unit and fixing the paint where dings and such have chipped and/or cracked the body panels.

I realize it won't be cheap and it will take time, but I love the car and want to see it run circles around anything out there.  Even my dad's new stang.

Any thoughts?


55Guy 55Guy
Administrator | Posts: 210 | Joined: 07/06
Posted: 01/03/08
07:34 AM

Well, for a C3 parts will be cheaper than for most Vettes, so there's a good thing for you.

If the motor can run reliably with a basic tune-up, leave it alone for now. Work first on the things that will make the car a reliable driver. If a car's driveable while you're working on it, that'll give oyu more motivation to keep working on things.

First, get the brakes working properly. No matter what, you've got to stop first! You can always upgrade later on down the line, the stock brakes will work fine for now. Once that's done, get your headlights working properly, and check to make sure the tailights are working also, and the interior lights too. Next up, I'd replace all the weatherstripping. That way you can drive in the rain without getting a bath.

Once those basics are taken care of, now it's time to start on improvements. I'd do all the mechanical stuff first, that way in case you ding the car while wokring on it you won't damage any new paint or body work. First upgrade the brakes and suspension. Second, start to get a plan for the motor. An LS motor would be cool, and easy with GM's new plug-and-play harness for installing an LS engine in anything. But if you're on a budget, the cheaper option is to rebuild hte L48 or buy a small block crate motor to drop in the car.

Another upgrade would be swapping in a 5-speed for the 4-speed.

Once all the mechanicals are done, then start on the body stuff, and paint. After paint's done, then go to work on the interior.  

leere68 leere68
I watched Corvette Summer | Posts: 2 | Joined: 01/08
Posted: 01/21/08
01:47 PM

That's pretty much the same idea I had.  I live in the Northeast and the vette is at my parent's place in Texas, so it doesn't get driven often.  I don't want to bring the vette up here because of the weather and the fact I move around somewhat often for my job.  So I'm going to have to rely on shops local to my parents until I can move back south again.

I'm just starting out doing this, so if anyone has suggestions for what I'm doing or things I need to consider, please let me know.