Big-Block Project: 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

Sometimes, the planning proves to be more complicated than the build itself when it comes to tackling a classic project. Owners can agonize for hours about paint colors, interior trim, and the mechanical specifications of the vehicle in question. Those feelings can increase in intensity if the car in question is considered iconic, like this 1964 Corvette Coupe. While its next owner may still face some tough decisions about color and trim, the big-block V8 that occupies its engine bay could answer the vexing question of its drivetrain configuration. If you feel up to the challenge, you will find the Corvette located in Valparaiso, Indiana, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has already rocketed past the reserve off the back of some heated action and currently sits at $19,400. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Larry D for spotting this promising project for us.

There’s a bit to consider with this Corvette, not least its physical condition. The original owner ordered the car wearing Daytona Blue paint. There’s barely a hint of that color visible today, and the paint that remains looks weatherbeaten and tired. If this car is to be done justice, I suspect that the buyer will probably strip the panels right back so that any restoration work can start from a sound base. The panels generally look pretty reasonable, but they will require some work to become pristine. Most of the exterior trim and chrome is no longer attached, but it appears that much of it, along with a secondhand headlight system and a new exhaust, are sitting inside the car. The tinted glass seems to be in good order, but the buyer will probably ditch the existing wheels in favor of ones that fit cleanly under the wheel arches. The owner refers to the frame as having “standard midwest frame corrosion,” which I hope means that it remains structurally sound. The few glimpses that we get in the supplied photos seem to show nothing beyond some heavy surface deterioration but nothing that has penetrated that precious steel.

When it was shiny and new, Chevrolet bolted a 327ci V8 and a 4-speed manual transmission below the skin of this Corvette. It isn’t clear which version of the 327 we’re talking about, and that is something that the buyer might consider investigating further. If they are contemplating a faithful restoration, finding a date-correct motor and transmission of the correct specifications should not be a problem. However, they might also be tempted to complete the work that a previous owner started. The engine bay is now occupied by a 396ci big-block V8 that is hooked to a manual transmission. It isn’t clear which version of the 396 we’re looking at, but I can spot an Offenhauser intake. That suggests that the internals could be anything but stock. The physical state of the transplanted parts is unclear, but since I believe that the buyer will probably perform a frame-off build, that would be the perfect opportunity to thoroughly inspect the big-block and perform any work to ensure that it is perfect when it gets dropped back into the car. You would have to think that with this drivetrain combination, the Corvette could be a genuine beast when the driver buries the loud pedal.

Most of the critical components that would allow the buyer to whip this Corvette’s interior into shape appear to be present. Items like the clock and radio are missing, but the rest of the dash, gauges, and seats look to be suitable for restoration. There’s no denying that there is much work awaiting the buyer, but what it will cost will depend on their ultimate vision for the car. High-quality trim kits are readily available, and while the easy route would be to source a kit in the original black vinyl, I would be tempted to go that extra yard and opt for leather. It will cost the buyer more initially, but it would add a touch of luxury, and if treated with care, could potentially outlast the vinyl option.

Regular readers will be aware that I tend to err on the side of originality with project builds, especially in cars as desirable as the 1964 Corvette Coupe. These are classics that continue to increase in value with each passing day, and with a build total of 8,304 cars, the Coupe represents less than 40% of total Corvette production for that model year. Unfortunately, from that perspective, this can never be a numbers-matching classic. Finding a date-correct motor and transmission should be possible, but regardless of how meticulous the next owner is, it will always fall short in the value stakes without that original 327 and 4-speed. Our readers will also know that I will support a good custom build, especially if the owner performs the work to a high standard. That would appear to be possible with this Corvette, and with that big-block firing on all cylinders, it is a car that would command respect. That might explain why there have already been twenty-nine bids submitted. It’s also why I would be willing to wager that we have a few readers who are considering throwing their hat into the ring. If you do and manage to secure this classic, I’m sure the rest of us would love to know how this build progresses.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    I would not buy this car sight unseen.

    Like 3
  2. Ron Baker

    Standard midwest frame corrosion sounds bad

    Like 8
  3. KDogg


  4. Gary Rhodes

    Looks like a gasser to me

    Like 2
  5. James Bishop

    This car has the clap .

    Like 5
  6. Peter R Hoffmann

    The big block is sitting to far back in the frame. 64s also 63s never had the relief in the frame for the big block balancer.

    Like 1
    • moosie moosie

      A cut-off wheel or a sledge hammer takes care of that, I had a ’66 that needed a frame, I found a good used one and a close inspection revealed that portion of the frame beaten back with a sledge hammer. I never did finish that car because a very cherry ’70 350/350 with A/C came along , all the ’70 needed was a new convertible top and a paint job.

      Like 2
  7. Patrick LaBarge

    I love this car as is. Makes me think of the movie “King of the Mountain” 1981.

    Like 1
  8. Larry D

    One side note is that there were no Big Block Chevrolet engines until 1965.

    Like 4
  9. John

    For $21,000, plus about $30-40k for parts and another $8k for paint and another $5 to 7k for upholstery, a person could build a Corvette that would easily bring $25-30k. Sounds like it should be marketed to the Federal Govt. they have a very clear understanding of deficit spending.

    Like 8
  10. moosie moosie

    A cut-off wheel or a sledge hammer takes care of that, I had a ’66 that needed a frame, I found a good used one and a close inspection revealed that portion of the frame beaten back with a sledge hammer. I never did finish that car because a very cherry ’70 350/350 with A/C came along , all the ’70 needed was a new convertible top and a paint job.

  11. moosie moosie

    before paint

  12. Frank

    Car prices have skyrocketed! Now is the best time to get rid of a dust collecting money pit.

    Like 2
  13. mooseandsquirrel

    Not sure how they got the BB in there without the damper hitting the chassis. 63-64 chassis did not have the relief that allows the damper to clear like later models. Perhaps the chassis was cut.

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