Pete Ruff's Cars & Bikes

1969 Corvette


XK120M Jaguar


1965 Mustang 2+2


1986 Corvette


2001 Corvette Z06


2007 Corvette Z06


The Workhorse

 

My first Corvette; I still own & drive it 47 years later!

Corvette!  Practically everybody who likes cars has thought about owning one.  My lucky day came in the summer of 1970 when I heard of a 2,600 mile Corvette that was for sale at a great price.  Since Corvettes had a reputation of being expensive to insure, I checked with my insurance agent and learned the insurance would be very little more than my 1965 Mustang.  That sealed my fate and I bought the car!  This is pretty much a striped model, with the base 300 hp engine, four speed transmission, tinted windows, AM-FM radio (big deal back then),  Posi-traction diff., and white stripe tires!  No air conditioning, no power steering, no power brakes.  Now 47 years later, it's still mine, and it looks about as good as it does in these pictures. (continued below)

 

These first photos were taken near Vacaville right after I bought the Corvette


How about those narrow white stripe tires?



When I was young and the Corvette was new








Softtop up with my Aunt Edith and my dad - I miss them both


My late friend Randy Patton, helped me move the Corvette to my new home in 2000


Cameron Park June 2004


Show & Shine at Cameron Park Airpark
Photo by my late friend Gary Haight



Cameron Park Lake 2006


Miscellaneous section


Contemporary Hot Rod Magazine ad
 


If you have a '69 Corvette and don't have this book, you should get one now


 

Corvette Links

1969 Corvette Specs

Cameron Park Corvettes


Corvette Forum - C3 Section

Corvette Action Center

Click this photo, see how it got that way

History continues below

Click this photo to see how I made a High Performance engine for this car

When this car was new, I drove it as fast as it would go, just over redline in fourth gear, or about 136 mph, west bound on I-80 west of Winnemucca, Nevada in 1971.  It held the road like a Corvette should - the only thing scary was the way I came up so quickly on the occasional much slower moving car.  One or two encounters like that was enough for me!

The handling and overall demeanor improved significantly when I installed radial tires and Koni shock absorbers.  The only other "performance" modification I made in the early years was to add a capacitive discharge ignition.  Rather than improve performance, the CD unit prevented the deterioration of the spark plugs and points as the miles went by.  It was like always having a fresh tune-up.

In 1975, when the convertible Corvette was discontinued, I bought a removable hardtop for this car from GM after having determined the aftermarket tops did not have nearly the quality of the OEM top .

In 1986 I bought a new Corvette, and then got heavily involved with CBX motorcycles.  The car was stored for 13 years


Thirteen years later, in the Spring of 2004, my CBX buddy Eric ragged on me to get the car back on the road.  He offered to come down from Oregon and help me get it started in lieu of us attending a CBX rally in Carson City.  With my arm sufficiently twisted, I borrowed a pre-oiler, merely a distributor with the drive gear, points and other ignition parts removed removed.  By plugging this tool into the engine in place of the distributor and driving it with an electric drill, the oil pump pressurized the oil system thereby lubricating the engine prior to starting.  This ensures adequate lubrication for an engine that has been sitting for an extended time.  We drained the gas tank too.  Actually Eric, using the time-honored method of sucking on the siphon hose, ingested some good-tasting stale gasoline and got the flow going.  With fresh gas and a new battery the engine fired right up! 

Thus began the process of bringing the car out of it's long sleep.  New tires were one of the first things replaced since despite having plenty of tread, the old ones had severely flat-spotted from being parked so long.   A lot of tinkering with the carb, the brakes, and many small trim parts was done over the first couple of years.  In 2005 I had the front suspension rebuilt with new bushings, ball joints, tie-rod ends, idler arm, sway-bar bushings and links, and a new steering box.  (Continued below photos)


This is the beginning of the oil pan gasket replacement and brake line project




One Piece Oil Pan Gasket


Four bolt main lower end


Windage tray


Still on jack stands for project


Front caliper - notice the rotors are still riveted to the hubs - never been off


Front stainless steel line - what a difference in brake pedal feel they make!


Rear caliper & trailing arm - new parking brake cables too
 

Following the front end work, I had the rear suspension rebuilt with new trailing arm bushings and wheel bearings, new parking brake hardware, new strut rods, and a single leaf composite rear spring.  After a four-wheel alignment, it rides and handles like it did when it was new.  Better in fact, since modern radial tires are so much better than those bias-ply F70/15 white stripe tires the car came from St. Louis with.  The bias ply tires would trammel, or follow ruts or uneven pavement, much more than even the widest low profile radial tires, and certainly much more than the "modest" 60 series radials  on the car now.  The bias ply tires were also very hard to get balanced so the car wouldn't shake at some speed. 

Once the running gear was brought back I replaced the original 30+ year old exhaust with a chambered 2.5 inch system that was killer loud and fun to drive - the chambers were like those on the RPO side pipe exhaust.  I can't believe those sounded as loud as this system does - I think having the headers in front of this system made it a lot louder than it would have been with the factory exhaust manifolds.  Maturity finally caught up with me and I had a couple of Magnaflow stainless steel mufflers put in the stock location in the rear fenders.  It sounds much better, not stock quiet, but mellow with a snarl when I get on the loud pedal. 

The exhaust was followed by a electronic ignition system buried in the old points style distributor.  With the points eliminated, I had Dave Westgate re-curve the mechanical and vacuum advances in the distributor - this made a HUGE improvement in performance, it now runs as a well built small block Chevy V8 should!  Throttle response is excellent, it has plenty of  low rpm torque, and it has great mid-range and top end power. 

Stainless steel brake hoses and a new reproduction master cylinder (the old one functioned perfectly, but it looked terrible - that's a good excuse to replace a part, right?) took care of the brakes in 2008.  I also replaced the original clock that no longer worked with a quartz unit and restored the center gage cluster "while I was at it".  Oh yeah, the other "while I was at it" involved correcting an annoying oil leak from the engine.  I heard about FelPro's one piece oil pan gasket, since the car was up on stands what better time to replace the pan gaskets.  I'm now a true believer in this new technology.

Next I replaced the corroded chrome exhaust bezels, which can hardly be seen unless you crane your neck under the back of the car.  I was going to replace the coolant hose clamps with OEM style Witek until I learned the clamps on the car are original, so I won't be replacing them. 
 

Some shots taken in 2008


Ready for a ride


In the shade


Mostly original interior


Restored seats


It should be called Shark


Headlight washers & correct original style T3 lamps



Left side


Right side


A Little Corvette History

The reference to Shark above is because this generation of Corvette has become known as shark because their appearance, including the nose, grill, and gills in the sides of the fenders.  This 3rd generation is now commonly referred to as C3, a numbering scheme that didn't start until at least the forth generation which ran from 1984 through 1996, and included my 1986 model. 
In the beginning, of course, they were just Corvettes.  Then in 1963 we got the Sting Ray (notice it is two words).  After the Sting Ray we got Stingray, the C3s.  At that time the Sting Rays were known as MidYear Corvettes, and still are often called that, although nowadays C2 is preferred by most people.  The C1, or Solid-Axles ran from 1953 through 1962, or 10 model years.  C2 production run was pretty short with only 5 model years.  They are probably the most
obtainable and valuable of collector Corvettes - the C1s are often worth more, but there are not as many of them,
So we come back to the C3 generation, the longest running in Corvette history, 1968 through the 1982 an amazing 15 model years!  During this time the Corvette changed a lot in many ways.  Body-wise, we have the Chrome Bumper series, '68-'73, although the '73 only had chrome at the rear.  Starting in '73 and through the end is the Rubber Bumper series, and this is further broken down by cessation of the convertible after 1975, and replacing the flat rear window and flying buttress "sails" with a fast-back bubble rear window in 1978. 
One reason for the long C3 production run was this was the period Detroit had to clean up engine exhaust to meet smog regulations.  It was also the beginning of the safety requirements, the rubber bumpers being the first visual manifestation.  So we saw horsepower reach a zenith in 1968-1969 and then slowly drop off as unleaded fuel and other EPA requirements took hold.  Big Block engines of 427 and 454 cubic inches disappeared after the 1974 model year.  What the later C3s lacked in raw power they made up in refinement and comfort options.  The cars got slower but quieter, smoother riding, and more comfortable. 
Naturally, with this long production run there were a lot of C3 Corvettes built: 542,861 to be exact, more than any other generation to date. 
My C3 or Shark, being the second model year is more of a rough and tumble car than the later ones, but it is an accurate reflection of how they were built back then.

For more information about Corvettes, some recommended books include:
Corvette - America's Stan-Spangled Sports Car - The Complete Story by Karl Ludvigsen - The original is out of print, but there is a new expanded edition available.
Corvette From The Inside
by Dave McLellan Corvette Chief Engineer 1975-1992
Zora Arkus-Duntov The Legend Behind Corvette by Jerry Burton
There are countless other Corvette books out there so stop by a book store and look them over.

Theme

Old cars are usually maintained or brought back with a particular theme in mind.  Today in the 21st Century, we have so many choices facing us it is almost bewildering to contemplate.  Electronic fuel injection, five and six speed transmissions, air conditioning add-on kits, power rack & pinion power steering, hydraulic assisted power brakes, modern suspension components from newer Corvette generations, the list is practically endless.  I thought a lot about which direction I should take this Corvette.  In the end, I decided that except for the engine, I would keep the car as near stock as I could, and keep it as original as possible.  I don't intend to have it judged by the NCRS , but from now on, every part that goes into or on the car will be as close to NCRS standard as possible.  The major distractions to that concept are the entire engine, exhaust system, and the stainless steel braided brake lines.   BUT, the saving grace, so to say, is that the ORIGINAL, numbers matching engine is perfectly good, and after a sympathetic overhaul, it can go back in the car, along with the original carburetor and all the smog equipment - all things that are important for an NCRS judged Corvette.  The exhaust and brake lines can easily be replaced with OEM parts, so a future owner could conceivably receive favorable treatment by an NCRS judge if he or she desired.  With all this in mind, I have directed my energies toward making this Corvette a period-correct, early 1970s, moderately hot rodded Corvette  - that's my theme and I'm sticking to it.

I recently uploaded this video and embedded here to teach myself how to upload to You Tube and embed videos in web pages.


This video was taken with an older Sony Cyber Shot still camera.

Labor Day 2010






 



Power Steering

Once I had the car completely sorted out and began to drive it more, it became i realized that the stock steering was no longer satisfactory for an old guy like me.  Back in the day, it was easy for me to drive and park the car.  Driving on a twisty road, the best kind, became a wrestling match.  I'd brace my body with my legs and give a big puch or tug on the wheel to set up for a turn.  Modern cars were much easier to drive. 
The stock C3 power steering was an add-on assist.  It consisted of a hydraulic ram attached to the steering linkage, the relay rod to be exact, that was controlled by a complicated hydraulic valve which sensed steering wheel movement and directed hydraulic pressure to the ram.  GM had developed integral power steering boxes that brought the functions of the ram and hydraulic valve internally.  But they were too large to use on the Corvette's old chassis, so the C3 cars soldiered on though the end of the 1982 model year with the old system.

I had the 6 quart oil pan on my Corvette which took up the space the hydraulic ram used on a power steering car.  I did some research and learned that the Borgeson company had modified smaller Delco-Remy steering box originally designed for some Jeep vehicles to fit the Corvette chassis.  This was done by gutting the housing, machining off the original mount points, mounting the box in a jig to ensure correct alignment of the internal parts, and welding on mounting brackets to fit the Corvette frame.  I ordered the complete kit which consisted of the steering box, the power steering pump with pulley and bracket to bolt it to the engine block, hoses, and a "rag joint", the coupler to connect the car's steering shaft to the new steering box. 

I had a local Corvette specially shop install the kit because it seemed like a bigger job than I was willing to tackle.  What an improvement!!!  The car was easy to steer, and just as important, the steering ratio was speeded up from 16:1 to a quick 12.7:1. 

I quickly learned the large, thin rim steering wheel was not necessary for leverage, and felt distinctly odd compared to modern cars with their thick rims.  I found this steering wheel, which is very similar to the stock wheel, at an on-line Corvette supply house and ordered it.  It feels much better, makes driving the car easier, and as an added bonus, getting into and out of the car much easier. 


Size comparison - 15" vs. 13.5"


The new wheel in place


 

Here are a couple of shots taken in late 2012

Behind the wheel on highway 50




5th gear would be nice


The background color for this page was made from a small section  of a photo of the car's paint - Riverside Gold.

 

This is a never ending story so keep coming back!

 

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