“It was sitting there on a concrete slab in front of the shop, fully laid out on the new air suspension, and it looked amazing,” says Steve of the essentially scratch-built system. “My dad was speechless, and amazed at how cool the car looked. It was also in primer, and the in-progress appearance was the turning point for us. Where it had been a project we worked on a few times a month, we now could see the possibilities and wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.”
“Neither my dad nor I was prepared for the horror that awaited us when it came to getting the car painted,” says Steve. “We went through four painters and way more money than we ever imagined. One guy was probably the worst person in the world to deal with. He had the car for almost a year, never completed it, and did an awful job on what parts he did—and then he had the nerve to charge us to get the car back, so we could find someone who could do it correctly.”
Steve’s friend Scott Tanghe finally stepped in, grinding on the car during lunch breaks and on weekends at the body shop where he worked during the day. The custom-mixed yellow hue features a gold-pearl mid-coat that must be seen up close to be truly appreciated. Meanwhile, a custom-mixed gunmetal color was applied to some of the car’s accent pieces.
When it came to finally revamping the powertrain, Steve and his father kept things simple: The original 350 engine’s block was turned into a 355 with a 0.030-inch overbore and fitted with a set of free-breathing iron heads with 2.02/1.60-inch valves. The mill inhales via a four-barrel carb mounted atop a ’70 LT-1 aluminum intake manifold that’s been completely polished. A custom air-cleaner box mimics the style of the hood and adds another dose of yellow to the engine compartment. A Zoops serpentine-belt system with chrome pulleys and brackets is another nod to modernity, as is the twin electric-fan setup housed under a custom shroud.
“The engine runs great and doesn’t get hot at all,” says Steve. “It may not be the most powerful engine ever dropped in a Corvette, but it has plenty of torque and feels great on the highway.”
It’s a more comfortable cruise on the highway, too, thanks to a 700R4 overdrive in place of the original three-speed slushbox. The car even stops well, now that larger, drilled-and-slotted discs reside at each corner. And in keeping with the Grybels’ mantra of leaving no bolt untouched or unpolished, the stock calipers have been shaved, smoothed, and painted.Don’t let the trailer queen–level of detail mislead you into assuming the Grybels only drive the car in and out of show fields (although they have been rewarded for doing so, including a class win at its debut at the prestigious Detroit Autorama). It definitely turns heads and draws attention wherever it goes, but more importantly, Steve and his father are cruising it every chance they get.
It’s true that adversity and anticipation make the reward all the sweeter, and in the case of this father-and-son team, the payoff was definitely a long time coming. Spending more than a decade rebuilding a family treasure is more rewarding than any classified ad.