Getting back on the road

By John Cousins

A mouth-watering American muscle car that first hit the road when Beatlemania was at its height has been given a massive injection of power and performance by Pahoia's Dave Best.

The six-year labour of love has pumped new life into what had become a tired 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

Mr Best found the Corvette at Bakersfield, California, in 1980 while he was living in the US.

He immediately knew he had to have it.

The transformation to a street legal racing car has occupied him on and off for six years, but don't ask him what it cost because he has not tallied up the bills - and probably won't.

"I don't really want to know."

He finished the project last month and the Corvette turned heads at yesterday's Bay Rodders and National Street Rod Association swap meet and car display in Tauranga yesterday.

The event, which has run for 14 years, was so successful that cars and stalls filled the entire council carpark building in Durham St.

Mr Best, a screenprinter who has just launched Gravel Clothing, said it had been a slow journey taking the Corvette to what was essentially a race car with a warrant of fitness.

Powered by a highly modified 410 cubic inch small-block Chev motor, he was reluctant to take a stab at how fast it would go, saying the car had not been tested on the track.

However, it was a far cry from his first hot rod project, a Ford Popular conversion done while he was still at high school.

An interesting detail of the Corvette project was that all the work was done underneath without touching the paint, leaving the fibreglass body and paint job unchanged and still looking as fresh as the day he bought the car.

Sonic Race and Machines at Mount Maunganui did the suspension and roll cage while Mr Best built up the engine from Chev small-block after-market racing parts.

The wheels are 17 inch by 9.5 inch Salt Flat specials.

"It's been a labour of love."

Yesterday's event attracted cars from all over the central and northern North Island, with many also attracted by Saturday's "winterblast" road run.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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