1973 Chevrolet Corvette C3 HR Coupe - Grand Touring, Vette-Rod Style
This One-Of-A-Kind '73 Vette-Rod Rules The Road
From the February, 2009 issue of Corvette Fever
By Scott Ross
Photography by Jerry Heasley
Would you believe the Vette-Rod you see here almost became a race-only car? Believe it, because at one point in its history, any change would have improved it. That's because Bob Lucas started his '73 Corvette project with something less than a complete car. "There was nothing there but the back end of the car and a crap frame," he recalls from his Union City, Pennsylvania, home about what he started with. "We then went to Spring Carlisle and bought a really nice frame. Then we bought the front clip, and that was the start of the build."
Prior good service from HarborVette Corvette Restorations in Erie, Pennsylvania, led Bob to pick that shop to turn his basket-case '73 into something special. He says they met by accident. "I had a Z06 that I sent to Lingenfelter's," he says. "I got forced off the road in it, and I went to see [HarborVette]. They did the work to put it back together, and I was really happy with [it]." When Bob decided to move forward with this project, HarborVette Corvette Restorations got the call.
Over time, Brad Goetz and the HarborVette crew transformed the body panels and pieces into a smooth, yet aggressive unit. They added big L88 flares at each corner-with rocker panel flares linking them-and an L88 hood while smoothing the firewall and engine bay, fashioning a custom nose and grille, and widening the rear spoiler. All this before the silver/grey PPG paint went on. The body modifications were part of Bob's original plan for the '73: Build it as a track-only screamer. "Originally, it was going to be a race car," he says. "But it kind of got out of hand-we spent more and more money, and it's now so nice that I won't race it."
Engine The smoothed-out engine...
Engine The smoothed-out engine bay holds a much-modified LS1 that Bob salvaged from a totaled Camaro. The radiator is a big BeCool unit.
Grand Interior Sew it Seems...
Sew it Seems fabricated the custom door panels and console, while Corvette America supplied the rosewood steering wheel. Gauges are Auto Meter Maximum Performance.
Console Sew it Seems' custom...
Sew it Seems' custom console holds the 4L60E's shifter, Vintage Air HVAC controls, and the Pioneer GPS screen and stereo head unit.
Those niceties include a chassis that had plenty of show-caliber work done to it. Bob says the Vette Brakes and Parts (VBP) C5 front brake conversion kit was prototyped on his car. "The folks at Vette Brakes would send us pieces that we would fit, and we would then send them back and tell them what needed to be done," says Bob. "Finally, they were able to get it all done, and they [VBP] now offer it as a package for C3s."
Once the suspension-as well as a VBP Grand Touring Plus monoleaf suspension kit and a Steeroids rack-and-pinion steering setup-had been fitted, HarborVette gave the frame some special attention. "They filled in all the frame holes that weren't being used with welded-in plugs, and ground everything down," recalls Bob. "We had it powdercoated silver, and coated the suspension and everything else in red."
Onto that dressed-up frame went a built-up LS1 and 4L60E automatic, which Bob says came from an unfortunate donor car. "The guy that had the engine before me had it in a Camaro, and he spent $8,000 on it," Bob says of the much-modified engine. "Then, the poor kid got hit from the rear, and that demolished his car. And I came out as the winner when he liquidated the engine."
As this project evolved from a pure racer to a Vette-Rod-style grand tourer, the interior got its share of special attention, thanks to Scott Zielinski at Sew it Seems in Erie, Pennsylvania. "The kid's a young kid, and he does really nice work," says Bob. "He does tuner cars for the most part. I saw one of those, and I liked what he did." Zielinski made the door panels and custom console, while the seat upholstery was entrusted to another local craftsman, Charles Sanner. "He's a guy that Brad knew, and he did a really nice job on the seats, putting in the stitching and all. It really turned out nice."
Buckets Custom upholstery...
Custom upholstery by Charles Sanner livens up the '73's stock buckets. The rollbar is visible behind the seats.
But nice isn't one of the words you'll use to describe Bob's '73 "C3-HR" (named for the Corvette's third generation and HarborVette Restoration), once he turns the key. "This car sounds so mean!" says Bob, who also notes a key feature of the VBP-enriched undercarriage. "It's a very strong, adjustable chassis, where you can change the ride exactly as you want it. There are four different settings. I ride it pretty hard-I just like that feel." Though it's a car that can carve up the twisties on a road course like Mid-Ohio with no problem, Bob says it hasn't shaken itself apart when he's driven it hard. "We built it so it was tight," he says. "I've been driving it, and there are no rattles in the chassis-it's solid as a rock!"
Should you be considering building your own Vette-Rod, Bob advises, "Buy one with a complete body. Don't start from the ground up."
Gauges Top shelf Auto Meter...
Top shelf Auto Meter Maximum Performance speedo, tach, oil pressure, and fuel level gauges are directly in front of the driver.
Where It All Started Bob...
Where It All Started
Bob says the rear body of the '73 was what he started the project with. Thanks to HarborVette Restoration, the one-time basket case is now a looker. Paint is PPG Silver/Grey two-stage.
C3-Hr One of the finishing...
One of the finishing touches to this custom Vette-Rod are the special one-off C3-HR emblems.
|DATA FILE ::: '73 Corvette "c3-hr" coupe |
|Owned by Bob Lucas, Union City, Pennsylvania |
|Restored/modified production '73 Corvette Coupe |
|MODIFICATIONS ||L88 hood and fender flares, custom tube grille, rocker moldings and front bum |
per, smoothed firewall/engine bay, widened rear spoiler
|BODYWORK AND PAINT |
|HarborVette Performance Restoration, Erie, Pennsylvania |
|PAINT ||PPG Silver Grey (basecoat/clearcoat), applied by HarborVette Performance Res |
toration, Erie, Pennsylvania
|FRAME ||Original '73 Corvette, powdercoated silver |
|SUSPENSION ||(Front) Vette Brake Products (VBP) Grand Touring Plus adjustable compo |
site monoleaf with VBP upper/lower tubular, poly-bushed A-arms and Bilstein
shocks; (Rear) VBP Grand Touring Plus adjustable composite monoleaf with
VBP upper/lower tubular, poly-bushed trailing arms and Bilstein shocks
|STEERING ||Steeroids rack-and-pinion system, power assisted |
|BRAKES ||VBP C5 four-wheel disc brake conversion with slotted rotors |
|WHEELS ||Boze, 18x9-inch front, 18x10-inch rear |
|TIRES ||Falken 265/45/ZR18 front, 295/45/ZR19 rear |
|Overhead-valve V-8, Chevrolet LS1 |
|BUILT BY ||More Performance, Charlotte, North Carolina |
|DISPLACEMENT ||350 ci |
|IGNITION ||Stock LS1 individual cylinder coils |
|INDUCTION ||LS1-style electronic fuel injection with LS6 intake |
|WIRING HARNESS ||EFI Connection custom harness |
|EXHAUST ||Street & Performance headers, Flowmaster mufflers, mandrel-bent 23/4-inch |
diameter stainless steel exhaust pipes with H-pipe
|FUEL DELIVERY ||Custom electric in-tank fuel pump and Rock Valley stainless fuel tank |
|HORSEPOWER ||485 at 6,700 rpm |
|TORQUE ||395 ft-lb at 5,400 rpm |
Door Panels The custom two-tone...
The custom two-tone one-off door panels definitely set this C3 apart from the rest of the pack.
| TRANSMISSION |
|Electronically-controlled overdrive automatic, GM 4L60E |
|Modifications ||Transtar 12-inch 2,500-rpm stall speed torque converter, TransGo shift kit, and |
wide-band Z-Pak clutch pack
|Rearend ||Stock '73 Corvette differential |
with Positraction, big-block axle shafts, and 3.36:1 gears
|Custom interior by Scott Zielinski at Sew it Seams, Erie, Pennsylvania |
|MODIFICATIONS ||Corvette America rosewood steering wheel, custom console with satellite radio |
receiver and GPS navigation unit, two-tone door panels, custom emergency
|SEATS ||Modified '73 Corvette buckets |
|UPHOLSTERY ||Corvette America Black/grey leather |
|UPHOLSTERY BY ||Charles Sanner, North East, Pennsylvania |
|CARPETS ||Corvette America black nylon cut-pile |
|INSTRUMENTATION ||Auto Meter Maximum Performance gauges (0- to 200-mph speedometer, |
0- to 10,000-rpm tachometer, oil pressure and fuel level gauges in dash,
voltmeter and coolant temperature gauges in center console)
|SOUND SYSTEM ||Sony AM-FM/CD/MP3 head unit and Rockford Fosgate speakers |
|GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM ||Pioneer |
|HVAC ||Vintage Air |