Avanti s/n4004

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remanufacture of 1963 Avanti S/N R4004

’63 Avanti:  remanufactured and upgraded to become a daily driver with cross-country reliability.  Customer ordered a new Corvette in 2002 and after waiting 8 months with no delivery he cancelled the order and contacted me to completely modernize an Avanti.  He wanted an original ’63 as starting point.

After shopping and bidding on several on e-bay, we finally found one in San Diego which was drivable, with some negotiation and after a careful inspection we bought the car for $6000.  I’ve just now turned the finished car over to its owner, as it was a huge job. (yes, 3 years later, because I did have other work and numerous interruptions).

What we did:

BRAKES: Turner disk brakes kit on front, dual brake system, replaced all steel and rubber tubing on complete car, installed DOT 5 fluid.

STEERING:  Car still has original power steering components, all were disassembled, inspected, all new seals installed.  Pump was replaced with a Cardone, new manufactured pump.  Owner wanted a custom wheel but wanted the original Avanti horn button.  I fabricated an adaptor to fit the custom wheel (a PILOT unit) and fitted the Avanti emblem in the center of the steering wheel.

WHEELS & TIRES:  Fitted American Racing Torque Thrust D chrome plated with 205-75R15 Firestone LH30 high performance touring tires.  Wheels are 5 on 4 ½ inch, 15 X 6 size.

FRAME:  Complete body off, stripped down to last bolt.  Bottom of channels opened, complete sand blast inside and out and epoxy primer inside and outside the frame rails.  Welded all factory riveted joints and all internal bulkheads.  A re-attached new bottom plate with plug welds every 2 inches along both edges of the frame.  Drilled drain holes, sprayed a rust sealer up inside all the insides of all frame rails.  We did find undetectable cracked and broken welds in several places inside the frame when it was opened.

COOLING SYSTEM:  Avantis are subject to overheating, so I removed the prone-to-leak surge tank and fitted a filler neck on top of the intake manifold, and added an overflow tank, Next to improve airflow I installed a positive drive fan 18” 7 blade unit.  Plus, to push even more air in stop and go traffic I added dual 10” electric fans in front of the A/C condenser.  Both cooling fans are tripped on by relays.  Both can be manually started from the cockpit, OR, the left one is tripped on automatically by high engine temperature.  The right one is tripped on anytime the A/C compressor is activated.  All this plus a huge air dam under the front to prevent recirculation of the preheated air, provides NO OVERHEATING EVER UNDER ANY CONDITIONS.   Phoenix in the summer time is no problem.

INTERIOR:  While the body was off the inside surfaces of the cabin and the doors were totally 100% insulated for both sound deadening and heat transfer.

I use a spray on product purchased from Cascade Audio Engineering.   These products were developed for NASA and provide an exceptional result with minimal weight added to the vehicle.  This car sounds solid like a LEXUS or CADILLAC when you shut the doors.  Floors, doors, roof were treated to a lay in and glue in, additional layer of super insulation just to put icing on the cake. 

We used the original seats but all interior was upholstered in a medium gray that looks very elegant with the 2002 Corvette Metallic red exterior.  Fitted new lap seat belts in the rear seats and 3-point harness belts in the 2 front seats.

ELECTRICAL:  every wire in the car was replaced, A Ron Francis, aftermarket fuse block and wiring kit was purchased and installed.  This included, a rear mount battery kit, a special grounding kit recommended for fiberglass cars, a 100 Amp Delco alternator, a Rostra cruise control, Lights on the rear of the car were modified adding yellow LED turn signals and hazard lights where the backup lights originally were located.  Backup lights were moved down and flank the license plate on both sides.  Auxiliary driving lights were installed up front with relay switching.  Lighting was added for underhood, with mercury switch.  100% of wiring was replaced.

INSTRUMENT PANEL:  The owner is a pilot so I left the overhead rocker switches but added another bank of switching on the horizontal part of the console just forward of the gear shifter.  All the instruments were sent out for refurbishment.  A new Stewart Warner tachometer head was fitted with the old tach face to keep the brand new instrument looking original.  The original wood grain vinyl panel surfaces behind the instruments as well as all the console surfaces were replaced with carbon fiber panels.  A new radio-cassette, which fits the original opening in the dash, was installed, along with an electric retractable antenna on the left rear fender.

DRIVETRAIN; The engine had been overhauled just 30,000 miles before the purchase, and a compression test indicated it was healthy, so it was just disassembled enough to install a lip type front main seal and to refresh the rear main seal.  At last rebuild its compression ratio was lowered to about 9:1 so it runs just fine on regular fuel.  The transmission had the start-in-first gear kit installed and works fine.  It will easily chirp the rear tires on its normal first-to-second gearshift.  I fitted heavy-duty sway bars both front and rear. 

FUEL SYSTEM:  A complete remanufacture was performed to avoid vapor lock in AZ driving conditions.  I install an electric fuel pump at the rear, remove the original mechanical pump and blank off the opening.  I run an auxiliary tube from front to rear of the car, this to provide a return line to constantly recycle fuel to the tank from the filter that is just 4 inches from the carburetor inlet.  Thus cool fuel is always being provided at the carburetor inlet, I fit a micarta insulator/spacer (1/2 inch thick) between the carburetor and the intake manifold.  The fuel pump is fed electrically thru a safety circuit switched on and off by engine oil pressure.  If for any reason the engine loses oil pressure the fuel pump is switched off.  In addition, I position a secret switch, hidden in plain sight, with which the owner can switch off the pump to lend himself an effective theft-proofing device.  With the pump switched off if someone jumpers and steals the car it will run for only about 1 minute then stop in the middle of the roadway, leaving the thief vulnerable to being observed.   To prevent gas fumes in the garage, I run another tube from the tank vent to a carbon canister under the hood.  Thus any vapors cooking off from the fuel tank in the garage will be controlled and ultimately sucked into the engine at next startup. 

BODY:  The “hog troughs” (body supports) were replaced with stainless steel units and they were completely internally undercoated before installation.  These units will never rust out again in 3 lifetimes!

EXHAUST:  Car is fitted with stainless steel pipes and mufflers from front to rear.  After fit up and test driving on shakedown cruises all the pipe joints were tack welded to ensure no movement ever.

As one can see this was the epitome of a first class total remanufacture.  I choose not to call it a restoration due to the many upgrades installed.  It is not a modification due to its retention of the original engine and tranny and differential.  The car is like new in all respects EXCEPT the engine which was not rebuilt at this time.  It was fitted with cruise control, a modern R-134 Vintage Air A/C system, better brakes, HD sway bars, fuel system mods, 3 point safety belts, and cooling system mods to make it much more pleasant to own and drive on a daily basis.  It’s quick, quiet (except when the windows are down so one can hear those performance mufflers) and reliable.

 

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