ELAPSED TIME

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Contents -

Out of hi­ber­na­tion af­ter more than 40 years.

We mea­sure it, at­tempt to save it, some­times waste it. Yet time marches on. Weeks turn into years, years to decades, and that old race car re­mains in the cor­ner. They’re out there, gath­er­ing dust in garages, old race cars with his­tory, times­lips stuffed in the glove­box, shred­ded slicks hard­ened by time. This ’57 Corvette is just such a car, hav­ing rested peace­fully from 1969 un­til 2012. But this is a 1960s gasser with­out a times­lip.

In those days, a gasser was sim­ply the work­ing man’s race car. In “Any­town, USA,” lo­cal tracks were filled with gassers. And while gassers were a com­mon sight at dragstrips across the coun­try, it seems Ohio be­came syn­ony­mous with the word gasser, and that’s where this story be­gins and ends.

The first week of Oc­to­ber 1966 im­pacted two young men and a pair of ’57 Corvettes 2,200 miles apart. In San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, a young sailor named Randy Gelvin had just fin­ished a four-year hitch in the Navy and de­cided to head home to Day­ton, Ohio, driv­ing his sil­ver ’57 Corvette. Dur­ing that same week an­other young man, Don Good­paster, sold the ’57 Corvette he had pur­chased in Day­ton back in 1964.

As fate would have it, Don saw Randy’s Corvette the day it rolled into town. It was Oc­to­ber 10, 1966, when Randy ar­rived back home. Don re­mem­bers see­ing the car parked, and it only took him a cou­ple of days to lo­cate the owner. By Oc­to­ber 13, Don was driv­ing his se­cond ’57 Corvette. Randy would mo­tor down to the lo­cal Chevro­let dealer to order a brand-new ’66 427/425hp Corvette.

The Vette Don pur­chased was an orig­i­nal 283/283 fu­elie. While the car was in stor­age in Cal­i­for­nia, the fuel-in­jec­tion unit and Borg­warner T-10 four-speed had been stolen. Randy lo­cated a four-speed and in­stalled a four-bar­rel in­take and car­bu­re­tor on the orig­i­nal mo­tor for the drive home. The car was red with red in­te­rior when it left the fac­tory, but it was now painted sil­ver. Don was

just the third owner of the car.

It wasn’t long be­fore Don started mak­ing changes. The orig­i­nal 283 was fresh­ened, in­clud­ing bal­anc­ing the en­gine and re­plac­ing the car­bu­re­tor with a re­place­ment 4900R 283/283 Rochester fu­elin­jec­tion unit. Next, the 3.36 open rear gear was changed to a 4.56 Posi unit.

The car’s nicely flared rear wheel­wells had been done some­where in Cal­i­for­nia. The teeth were re­moved from the grille; and af­ter fill­ing the holes, the grille bar was re-plated. Don took the car to Jim Thomp­son, who gen­tly re­worked the flares and laid down a fresh coat of sil­ver paint. A set of alu­minum Torq-thrust wheels wrapped with fresh Fire­stone Indy tires com­pleted the per­for­mance look. In­side, a black rolled-and-pleated in­te­rior added a cus­tom touch.

In this con­fig­u­ra­tion, the Corvette did well at lo­cal shows and was street driven, but not dur­ing the win­ter months. The last time the Corvette was driven on the street was June 1, 1969, car­ry­ing Don to his brother’s wed­ding. By June 2, gasser fever had taken hold.

From Street to Strip, Al­most

The first step to­ward the gasser con­ver­sion was the in­stal­la­tion of a CAE tube front axle. Don Broyles did the unique front sus­pen­sion work. The axle was lo­cated with a pair of par­al­lel leaf springs, while the steer­ing was via the orig­i­nal Corvette third arm and tie rods mounted to a cus­tom-fab­ri­cated front cross­mem­ber. The springs, Delco shocks, and tie rods were chrome plated. Hurstair­heart disc brakes were mounted to the Corvette spin­dles with PSI brack­ets. Weld­ing re­quired for the front sus­pen­sion swap was per­formed by Larry Trout, a skilled welder and fab­ri­ca­tor who was also re­spon­si­ble for the weld­ing on the famed ’33 Willys Malco coupe owned by Ohio Ge­orge Mont­gomery.

Time to Sell

Out back, the orig­i­nal five-leaf Corvette springs re­mained in ser­vice, but the ’57 Corvette rear was re­placed by a beefy ’58 Olds/ Pon­tiac 9.3 rearend with a brand-new 5.14:1 lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial. Lake­wood slap­per bars were added along with a set of Gabriel air shocks.

If you were liv­ing in Day­ton in the 1960s and wanted se­ri­ous horse­power, the man to see was Ohio Ge­orge Mont­gomery. A quick trip to see Ge­orge ended with an order for a blown small-block. The mo­tor was bored and stroked to 377 inches and the block was cop­per O-ringed. The half-inch-stroked crank was from Crankshaft Com­pany, and 8:1 Forged True pis­tons filled the holes. A Sig Er­son 500H cam and Er­son lifters com­pleted the short-block, which was fit­ted with a mod­i­fied (and chrome-plated) deep-sump oil pan.

Joe Mon­dello re­worked the Chevro­let dou­ble-hump heads, the “Mon­dello” stamp­ing still clear on each head. A 6-71 blower was go­ing to force-feed the small-block through a rare 875-cfm Au­to­lite in­line four-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor dated 1968. This would be one of the last blower mo­tors built for drag rac­ing by Ge­orge Mont­gomery, at a cost of $996.35.

The en­gine was brought home and mounted in the car. The hood was care­fully cut out, and the hinges were re­placed by four hood­pins. In­side, an Auto Power roll­bar was mod­i­fied, chrome­plated, and in­stalled. The en­tire body was stripped to bare fiber­glass and treated to a cou­ple coats of red ox­ide primer.

Although the car was near­ing com­ple­tion, time caught up with the project. It was 1976, race classes changed, life pri­or­i­ties changed, and the Corvette was rolled into the cor­ner of Don’s shop. It, along with all the parts needed to com­plete a great gasser, would re­main un­touched for nearly 40 years. Since Don was still some­what ac­tive in the Day­ton car scene dur­ing the Corvette’s hi­ber­na­tion, we imag­ine more than one per­son at­tempted to buy the car. But only the seller knows when the time is right to sell a car, and in 2012, for rea­sons known only to Don, it was time.

The sale was as unique as the car. While walk­ing a show in Sharonville, Ohio, Don asked Steve Bar­rett if he might be in­ter­ested in

It’s All or Noth­ing

buy­ing a ’57 Corvette. Steve said he wasn’t but pointed Don to­ward his friend Bruce Bursten.

Bruce has been a Corvette guy and all-around hot rod­der his en­tire life and has owned more than his fair share of Corvettes. When he dis­cov­ered the ’57 Corvette, an orig­i­nal fuel-in­jected car in pieces but with all the right parts, he wasted lit­tle time in go­ing to see it. The Corvette was tucked in Don’s shop, with the orig­i­nal 283 fu­elie mo­tor on a stand be­hind the car. It was ap­par­ent the car was a stalled gasser project, with all the pieces in place for a wicked race car. Bruce’s first thought was, “I could re­move the rear flares and re­store this car back to the orig­i­nal red paint with the cor­rect fu­elie mo­tor and have a very valu­able Corvette.” And so his ini­tial goal was to buy just the car and all the orig­i­nal pieces. When you have a car as rare and unique as this one, the seller is in the prover­bial driver seat. To Bruce’s of­fer to buy just the gen­uine Corvette stuff, Don sim­ply stated, “It’s all or noth­ing.” This made the de­ci­sion to pur­chase the car a bit more com­pli­cated, un­til Don took him on a tour of “all the stuff.”

Some of it was stored above the shop, more in a se­cond build­ing, and even more in Don’s base­ment. Most of the speed equip­ment was still in orig­i­nal boxes, in­clud­ing a Lake­wood scat­ter­shield and a set of Trac­tion Masters. There were chrome JR head­ers with out­lets to plumb to a stock Corvette ex­haust, plus a com­plete N.O.S. Corvette ex­haust sys­tem. Don, ap­par­ently, planned on driv­ing this blown gasser on the street, too! A cus­tom-built ra­di­a­tor with dual out­lets on the left side was in­cluded, per­fect for plumb­ing the blower mo­tor and yet an­other in­di­ca­tor this car was des­tined to be a street/strip gasser. There were two ex­tra tube axles, chrome shocks and steer­ing arms, chrome orig­i­nal 022 mas­ter cylin­der, and a se­cond N.O.S. mas­ter cylin­der. Then there were the Cra­gar S/S wheels, su­per rare 16x10 with a 5-on-5 bolt pat­tern for the Pon­tiac rear. The wheels were date-coded 11/69 and had Goodyear Blue Streak slicks mounted that had never seen pave­ment. The list went on to in­clude at least 160 N.O.S. GM parts. It was a bit over­whelm­ing, but Don gave Bruce a price to con­sider.

Af­ter spend­ing the af­ter­noon tak­ing in­ven­tory and look­ing things over, Bruce went home to dis­cuss this very in­ter­est­ing car with his wife, Joyce. Now, Joyce has been in­volved in more than a few of Bruce’s deals over the years and also helps in the shop. Bruce val­ued her opin­ion, so she went with him the next day for an­other look. They spent sev­eral hours with Don go­ing over the car and parts, and then Joyce turned to Bruce and said, “Just pay the man what he’s ask­ing.”

One week later, Bruce and sev­eral pals loaded the Corvette on a trailer along with a truck­load of parts. It was June 22, 2012, and Bruce Bursten had a new project.

De­ci­sion Time

Af­ter scrub­bing off the 40-year ac­cu­mu­la­tion of garage dust, it was time to de­cide ex­actly what to do with the car. It could go one of three ways. It could be built as a ded­i­cated nos­tal­gia drag car, which would in­volve fir­ing that Ge­orge Mont­gomery mo­tor for the first time. Or it could be re­stored to orig­i­nal, with red paint, red in­te­rior, and the famed 283/283 fu­elie mo­tor un­der the hood. Fi­nally, it could be built in the spirit of the 1960s, mak­ing it a wild street/strip gasser and com­plet­ing Don’s 1969 dream. Af­ter get­ting to know Don, Bruce and Joyce opted for the lat­ter route, but not with the blower mo­tor. Bruce felt Hil­born in­jec­tion would be more streetable, and he just hap­pened to have a setup in his shop.

Work on the car be­gan in Novem­ber 2012. All the red ox­ide primer was sanded off the body prior to re­mov­ing it from the frame. The years of in­door stor­age had pre­vented most of the typ­i­cal ag­ing prob­lems with the fiber­glass, and even the 47-year-old rear flares were in good con­di­tion. Bruce built a 327 bored to 337 inches and filled with 9.8-com­pres­sion forged pis­tons. A hy­draulic Crower cam was re­ground to GM 151 specs. The dou­ble-hump heads were given the hi-po treat­ment, and the crown­ing touch to the mo­tor was the Hil­born in­jec­tion.

Bruce con­verted the me­chan­i­cal Hil­born unit 265-C-8K with 21⁄16-inch stacks to EFI. The Hil­born is dated 12/14/73 and was orig­i­nally sold by Mike Smith’s Rac­ing Equip­ment in In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana. By run­ning in­jec­tors with no fuel rails and metic­u­lously hid­ing the wiring, the Hil­born ap­pears me­chan­i­cal when in fact it is EFI con­trolled by a FAST 2.0 CPU. The MSD elec­tronic dis­trib­u­tor and 6AL box al­low the FAST unit to also con­trol tim­ing. So while it may look like you would have to “squirt start” this mo­tor,

mod­ern tech­nol­ogy has it han­dled. Early finned alu­minum valve cov­ers with Of­fen­hauser breathers and the tach-drive gen­er­a­tor com­plete the pe­riod-per­fect il­lu­sion.

The frame was treated to sev­eral coats of satin black be­fore the brake lines were routed and the ex­haust in­stalled. The orig­i­nal straight axle and Pon­tiac rear re­main in the car. At first glance much of the old chrome plat­ing looked pretty weath­ered, but with care­ful cleaning and pol­ish­ing it proved to be quite ser­vice­able. With the chas­sis and driv­e­line com­plete, the body was re­turned to the chas­sis and the doors were hung be­fore the car was hauled to Duck’s Place Body Shop in Tren­ton, Ohio, where shop owner Kenny Rudd han­dled the min­i­mal body­work and flaw­less Dodge In­ferno Red Pearl paint­work. The paint is rem­i­nis­cent of 1960s candy ap­ple as the light plays tricks with the color, turn­ing it from a bright bur­gundy by day to a deep bur­gundy in evening shad­ows. Other than the flares and the hole in the hood, the body re­mains as GM de­signed it.

While the body­work was be­ing done, Bruce bus­ied him­self restor­ing and buff­ing all the orig­i­nal trim for the car. The chrome on the bumpers was placed there in 1957 by GM, and the orig­i­nal sin­gle-bar grille and grille sur­round were re­in­stalled on the body. One rear ex­haust port now car­ries a gasser-style kill switch, while the other is neatly blocked off.

Mov­ing in­side the car, the chrome plated Au­topower roll­bar was re­in­stalled along with the orig­i­nal black rolled-and-pleated in­te­rior, which had been care­fully stored by Don and was in like­new con­di­tion. A set of winged Ste­wart-warner gauges fills the dash along with an in­ter­est­ing Chev­elle SS em­blem. That em­blem was on the car when it ar­rived from Cal­i­for­nia, and Bruce felt it should re­main on the car. In true race car fash­ion a GM ra­dio delete cover is in place, and the car is now a heater delete car. The 1960s-vintage Hurst shifter and alu­minum “go pedal” com­plete the gasser inspired in­te­rior. The vintage Cra­gar mags were cleaned up and now have new Coker Fire­stone cheater slicks on the rear with Fire­stone bias-ply 560-15 tires up front.

Fin­ished in Time

By Au­gust 2013, a mere 10 months af­ter the project be­gan, Bruce and Joyce Bursten were cruis­ing in one out­ra­geous ’57 Corvette gasser. We first dis­cov­ered the Corvette at the Hot Rod Re­union in Bowl­ing Green, the per­fect venue for this car.

Don Good­paster had moved from Day­ton to Utah, but on a re­cent re­turn to Day­ton he stopped by to see “his” fin­ished car. Don was pleased to see the car built to such a high stan­dard. He took a lot of photos, rem­i­nisced with Bruce and Joyce for a while, and headed home.

So you see, gasser dreams do come true. Some­times it just takes time.

> The CAE axle was lo­cated by par­al­lel leaf springs, while the unique steer­ing sys­tem em­ploys the stock ’57 Corvette third arm and two tie rods. Bruce re­ports the car steers per­fectly. This fab­ri­ca­tion was done by Don Broyles in 1969. > Same wheels,...

When Bruce Bursten walked into Don Good­paster’s shop, he was greeted by a 1957 Corvette rest­ing on four flat tires. The car had been in that same spot since 1976. Af­ter mount­ing some fresh rims and rub­ber, the Corvette was rolled out into the day­light...

> This su­per rare 875-cfm Au­to­lite in­line four-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor was orig­i­nally des­tined to sit atop a 4-71 blower to force fuel into the Mont­gomery-built small-block. This is a very rare N.O.S. car­bu­re­tor that has never flowed fuel. > The driver-side...

> The 1957 Corvette seats were given the rolled-and-pleated treat­ment in the 1960s, and the mod­i­fied Au­topower roll­bar was chrome plated around the same time. The col­umn mounted, cable-drive tachome­ter is mounted in front of the orig­i­nal speedome­ter...

> Ste­wart-warner winged gauges fill the dash along with a small alu­minum panel mounted to the trans­mis­sion tun­nel. That early Chev­elle SS em­blem was in­stalled in the dash prior to 1966. Bruce felt the em­blem should re­main on the car.

> The Corvette was go­ing to do bat­tle in the GS class, and power would come from this Ge­orge Mont­gomery­built, bored and stroked small-block. Joe Mon­dello did the head­work, and the “never been run” mo­tor is filled with the best of ev­ery­thing. The...

> While the car was orig­i­nally des­tined to have a blown small-block, Bruce opted for an early Hil­born in­jec­tion unit. Bruce skill­fully con­verted it to EFI us­ing a FAST 2.0 com­puter to con­trol the flow of fuel. Note the early tach-drive gen­er­a­tor is...

> This is the orig­i­nal fuel-in­jected mo­tor that was in­stalled in the car in 1957. The mo­tor was fresh­ened and bal­anced in 1967 but re­mains com­pletely stock.

> This street-go­ing gasser has been in the works since 1966. Fi­nally com­pleted in 2013, the car rides high on a CAE straight axle. Most of the parts on the car were pur­chased in the 1960s and early ’70s.

> A sin­is­ter sym­me­try is built into the car. Peer­ing through the per­fectly cut hood, the two rows of in­jec­tor stacks align with the rearview mir­ror, the chrome Au­topower roll­bar, and the di­vided bucket seats. Steve Lain­hart pin­strip­ing com­pletes the...

> This photo could have been taken in 1969, with a well-crafted Corvette gasser sit­ting in front of a home shop. In­side the shop, an orig­i­nal Ge­orge Mont­gomery- built blown small-block is on the en­gine stand, while the Vette’s orig­i­nal Rochester...

• WORDS & PICS: GERRY BURGER • VINTAGE PHOTOS COUR­TESY DON GOOD­PASTER & BRUCE BURSTEN • CAR: BRUCE BURSTEN

Diego to Day­ton, Ohio, in > The Corvette was driven from San pur­chased the car in 1966 by Randy Gelvin. Don Good­paster a very clean fu­elie Vette. 1966, and it wasn’t long be­fore it was done some­time prior Note the flared rear fend­ers; they were to 1965.

> This close-up shows just how per­fectly the hood fit the blower.the photo was snapped in Oc­to­ber 1976, al­most 10 years to the day af­ter Don Good­paster pur­chased the car. The car would be rolled into stor­age shortly af­ter this photo was taken.

> Corvettes and hot rods tend to at­tract pretty women. In this 1967 photo, one of the can­di­dates for Queen of the Day­ton Hara Arena Car Show strikes a pose in the Corvette. All we know about the young lady is that her name is Jan. If any­one knows Jan...

> The gasser was get­ting close to com­ple­tion, as we can see in this photo of the car as­sem­bled with the classic gasser stance and a big blower pro­trud­ing through the hood. How­ever the car would never make a pass down the quar­ter-mile.

> A young Don Good­paster stands next to his gasser project. Note the blower pro­trud­ing al­most to the top of the wind­shield and the wheel­wells filled with chrome head­ers.

> In 1969 the car rests on the freshly mod­i­fied chas­sis. The fi­nal ren­di­tion of the car would sit con­sid­er­ably lower.

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