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Fast and Custom Made '74

This split rear bumper is what most other drivers will see!

Story Andy Bolig - June 20, 2011 09:00 AM

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He swapped out all of the fasteners for stainless steel parts and installed a bevy of chrome goodies to keep the glimmer under the hood of his Corvette.

Gary Wilson is a floating inspector for General Electric. But more than being able to look at something and tell when things look right, he’s one of those people who are able to BUILD something and have it look right.

This super-fun runner started out as simply a ’74 Corvette. When some might have shut out this era of car as a muscle car option, Gary envisioned what the car could be, not what GM was mandated to churn out of the factory due to emissions and fuel concerns.

You can’t deny that the shark body style typifies what a Corvette should be; it’s distinctive, it looks fast even when sitting still, and even though fuel and clean air was on everyone’s minds, those working on Corvettes were still interested in making them go as fast as possible. Gary used that foundation to create exactly what HE wanted, not being restrained by the contemporary concerns when the car was manufactured.

You wouldn’t call Gary’s ’74 a restoration because his goal was to build it better than what they were allowed at the factory. To his credit, he did all of the work himself, except for the paint work, which was performed by Merrick’s Auto Body. Work leading up to that shiny shade of blue included a frame-off reconstruction of the car, with the addition of a 459 horsepower small-block 350 and the T-10 four-speed transmission. Other smaller parts were sandblasted and powdercoated by Gary in his garage. He swapped out all of the fasteners for stainless steel parts and installed a bevy of chrome goodies to keep the glimmer under the hood of his Corvette. To help keep a viewer’s attention, he also included a set of custom-built valve covers (from Roland Racing, Springfield, Missouri) that have a clear top so that as the engine runs, you can see those COMP 1.6 ratio rockers in full operation and continuing on with that, there’s also a clear distributor cap so you can compare the timing of the spark with the camshaft, if you’re that good.

The engine breathes fire through those massive Hooker header sidepipes, but a luggage rack didn’t help carry the race car theme like a set of American Racing wheels or those numerals, so before the paint was sprayed, Gary removed any traces of the rack’s existence. Other additions to help carry the performance theme into the interior are the Hurst shifter and the B&M line lock. Gary continued inside by adding an air/fuel ratio gauge, a shift light and a roll bar behind the seats, just in case.

Gary has owned this car for about eight years now and loves to take it out and show it to the admiring public. He’s garnered a few awards with it as well, bringing home several trophies and Best In Show awards. We caught up with this enthusiast from Freeland, Pennsylvania, at the Annual Bloomsburg Hospital’s Rod & Custom Cruise-in

(www.rodandcustomcruisein.com), held each year in August. He was busy enjoying his Corvette and sharing it with other enthusiasts but we finally tracked him down long enough to get a few photos.

Mod List:

1974 Corvette Coupe

Engine

• 350 small block

• 459hp / 445 lbs-ft torque

• Eagle crankshaft

• I-beam rods

• Flat top pistons

• COMP camshaft

• Edelbrock gear drive

• Brodix 221cc ported heads

• Edelbrock Endura-shine intake

• 750 Mighty Demon carb

• Davis Unified Ignition HEI

• MSD ignition

• 8mm Live Wires

 

Interior

• Hurst shifter

• B&M Line Lock

• Air/fuel ratio gauge

• Shift light

• CD player

• Custom roll bar

• New carpet

• Deluxe seat covers

• Interior installed by Gary

 

Chassis

• Rebuilt trailing arms

• Rack and pinion steering

• 3.70 rear gear with posi unit

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