The Art
of the Art of

RESTORATION

February 2000
By Michael LaEnvi, Sr. Editor

It was only last April when Jeff Burkey of Charlotte, North Carolina, was thoroughly involved with “The Big Search Of Epic Proportions.” The search was a true life story that began October 13, 1972 in Philadelphia. It was a love affair that took him to Miami and finally to Charlotte. This one love of his life, as he stated, has the most “seductive and shapely body” he could ever imagine.

Upon the success and closure of the search, his prized possession was again safe in his hands.

Jeff, however, wasn't’t yet totally satisfied and after collaborating with Paul Lutz, owner of Corvette Technicians in North Versailles, Pennsylvania, he agreed to and scheduled a complete body-off restoration for his very special 1972 LT-1 Pewter Silver convertible.

 
 

Vette Vues followed this project from start to finish and was totally amazed from the onset with the expertise of Lutz and his technicians.

Not only were approximately 150 step-by-step photographs taken, Lutz provided us with a detailed video of the entire project.

To walk everyone through the restoration process, would literally consume the majority of this issue, therefore, we will provide a pic tonal overview with as many photos as possible to highlight the art of this restoration.

It is important to mention first that since Corvette Technicians is referred to as one of the leading restoration businesses in North America, the shop is at all times, maintained in a hospital like condition. It is the only way that such projects can be accomplished without flaws and I truly believe the techs could wear white lab coats to further that image.

We did agree with Lutz that we will not divulge many of his finishing techniques, which we refer to as a very special art in itself, because they are what separates his quality work from so many of the other restoration businesses.

The process began with the disassembly and removal of all the mechanical, electrical, interior and body trim prior to the tedious and painstaking removal of the existing paint.

 



Above: Original interior removed.
Right: Paint removed and body hand blocked.
Bottom right: View of original condition of front underbody.

 

 

Above are views of the existing conditions during the disassembly process long before any of the actual rework stages necessary to provide the proper foundation of an excellent completion began.

Barely visible is the original underbody factory number 159 and during the process all the original numbers were carefully preserved.

The fiberglass underbody was completely taken down to the bare glass, refinished and clear coated.

Even when the new frame arrived from GM, it appeared to have some imperfections and minor flaws. That too, was carefully filled and re-worked like the body.

The photograph to the right shows the completed rear section of the frame with a new propeller shaft, axle carrier and drive shafts.

The photo directly below shows part of the wiring harness installation.

 

As the reassembly procedure continued, the newly restored body was removed from the original frame and is near ready to be lowered onto the new frame shown below to the right.

Here are several close up views of some of the new parts being installed such as the input shaft (top middle), the tail shaft and yoke (lower left), the numbered side of the new M22 Transmission (lower middle), completed right front (bottom left) and completed left front suspension (bottom middle).
 
 

Last but not least of the photos of parts to be shown, are two views of the LT-1 engine during its reassembly (left) and with a new aluminum intake manifold below.

Jeff put approximately 200 miles on his ‘72 since the completion of the restoration and in order to provide us with even more photographs, he put forth a very special effort to meet with another of his friends, Wes Harris, who is the Executive Vice President of Operations for Speedway Motorsports, Inc..

I can only guess that a great many Corvette enthusiasts would give most anything to be in his position. Why? Well, the operation Wes is VP of, includes Atlanta, Bristol, Charlotte (Lowe’s) and Texas Motor Speedways, plus Sears Point Raceway and 600 Racing (Legends cars).

That’s not all, he’s a devoted enthusiast, “having owned and cared for a few, with a particular fondness for a ‘64 white coupe” and wishes he could it find again. He also stated that he “is amazed at Jeff’s success with this restoration project.” But he shouldn't’t be, because Wes was a part of the project from the start.

This issue’s cover photograph on the left and a few of the following photos were taken at the Charlotte Speedway. Think about this - can you imagine calling a friend to use the Speedway all to yourself?

The top right photo is another taken at the Charlotte Speedway with none other than Jeff himself beside his just finished ‘72. The original window sticker is shown under the photo at the left and the original Dealer Invoice is shown to the right. The factory specs chart shown at the bottom left indicates (the bottom line) that an Atlanta Gray was an exterior option at that, time.

 

To the left is a rear view of the completed ‘72 restoration. Below are views of Jeff’s remarkably matched ‘70 coupe and he just asked me what I think about having Paul Lutz and his technicians do a complete re-paint? There really was no question about.

Photography courtesy and copyright
Jeff Burkey and Paul Lutz.

Photographs courtesy & © copyright Corvette Technicians.
Text (excluding quotes) © copyright Michael LaEnv - Sr. Editor - Vette Vues Magazine.