And we’re off…..so far, 2021 is an interesting year for Undiscovered Classics. We’ve had our biggest year ever at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance with three cars on the field. And…..we have three more concours events to attend later this year with more cars and appearances. Seems we may finally be hitting our stride with vintage low-volume handcrafted cars.
But something else has been happening too. Some of the molds for vintage car bodies we have are starting to mature a bit and we’ve sold a few bodies across four different marques. Click here to view the vintage cars and car bodies you can buy and build from Undiscovered Classics.
In fact, a few of the vintage style torsion bar chassis offered by JR’s Speed Shop have sold as well for some of the bodies that were bought from us too. Very interesting times here and we hope this trend continues.
One of the folks who bought a body and chassis from us is Stan Fowler. He’s making progress on his build and I thought I would bring you up to date now. And away we go…
Pick Up Day: July 23, 2021
Zoom……Hot!!!…..and wings. That’s what pick up day was like and it was so hot down here this summer in Florida.
I’ve known Stan for years and consider him a close friend (hope that’s ok Stan). So to honor our friendship, Stan came down from Tennessee with his friend Bob Storc to pick up the Byers SR-100 body and chassis. I had paired this body with a slightly lengthened 1980 Corvette C3 chassis. Stan liked the pairing and wants to complete this build.
I had built a hood and trunk with this Byers SR-100 body but no doors. Stan wants doors so Stan gets doors. I lent him the molds and parts necessary to create this for his car. So…..Stan “zoomed” here for 8 hours……it was as “hot” as it could be……and we all went out for wings – Stan Fowler, Bob Storc, Craig Johnson and me. Hooters wings to boot and a good day had by all.
Enter Dan Palatnik
Whenever we begin a new build or new restoration, we ask that our artist in residence, Dan Palatnik, join our team. Each time we’ve done this the end result shines more brightly than we could have ever imagined. Dan and his rendering skills are greatly appreciated and critical to each of our Undiscovered Classics projects.
In this case, Stan wanted to check out some different looks for the Byers in a dark green color, some different wheel treatments and sidepipes / no sidepipes. You can check out some of these renderings below.
Stan liked the color, dropped the sidepipes and kept the Studebaker wheel covers. At this time, he’s moving forward with a build that should look like the images below:
Stan tried out a little of the look with his Byers in the photos below:
Stan Fowler: Update July 27, 2021
Less than a week after Stan left my house with his new Byers, I received the following e-mail and photos from him:
Hi, Geoff – here is an analysis as the car now stands- with pictures. The frame appears sound. A lot of rebuilding will be necessary to get it roadworthy , but not unexpected. The worst corrosion area – the rear control arm pocket – looks pretty good. There is a rear stabilizer bar – maybe the Gymkana package. The steel rear spring means it is probably an 80 , as 81-82 had composite rear .
Chassis / body set up – we are going to have problems here . As the chassis sits , suspension is at full rebound ( unloaded height ). The suspension should be at the specified curb trim when the body is positioned to make everything work. As it sits, the body has been mounted about three inches too low on the chassis.
My first step will be to set the front and rear suspensions at correct specs – using struts to hold it in place. Then set the body so we have the wheels in the correct relationship to the fender openings, and there will be clearance to get full ride travel without contacting the fender. Then the floor has to be positioned relative to the frame . Bad news – the floor needs to be cut out and LOWERED approximately 3” relative to the body. Good news – there will be a lot more room for people, and the seats won’t stick out of the car.
Essentially , the body is “ channeled “ ( one of your 50s terms ) over the frame about 3 inches. When we are done , the bottom of the body will be about at the level of the bottom of the frame. When I mounted the Devin body, it was about two inches ABOVE the bottom of the frame, but it is really a skinny body. The Corvette production body is actually several inches above the frame – frame is either covered with a trim piece or side. We can talk in person about this if you want – I just needed to send the pictures with the explanation. It may be hard to follow in an Email. Still love the car , but just more work than I had hoped for. But , not unexpected…….
Stan Fowler: Update July 29, 2021
Three days later I received the following e-mail with photos from Stan:
Hi, Geoff – worked on setting up ( or, Re- setting up ) the Byers . As we discussed , the car was sitting at full rebound , and the body is sitting too low on the frame. In this Email I’ll show how to set up a car properly .
As a preface, all suspensions have a travel of about 5-6 inches, and are designed to operate at about the midrange of that travel (curb trim height) – with about half the travel on the ride, or jounce, side (upward wheel travel when you hit a bump) , and about half on the rebound side ( downward wheel travel as you recover from the bump ) . This curb trim height must be a given constant during the design and build of a car, so that there is adequate wheel clearance throughout the wheel travel . In addition, suspension geometry is set around this height.
So, the first step on the Byers is to get the suspension at the design trim height. I used the trim height data from the C3 Corvette – which you can find in the shop manual or on the internet (shop manual is shown in the attached pictures). For the front suspension, I put a couple of threaded rods in place of the shock, and pulled the suspension to the curb wheel position.
The suspension will remain at this height throughout the build, as the body is placed, etc., and at the end of the build, springs will be specified to achieve this height. On the rear suspension, the rear leaf spring is disconnected, and spacer blocks are put in place to hold it at the proper position. After this was done, the frame sat about 3” or so closer to ground.
Of course, when this was done, both front and rear wheels interfered with the body. I then shimmed the body up 3 inches higher on the frame to compensate. And, we now can lower the floor about three inches in the body. So, we end up with 3” of additional interior height, sitting the driver lower in the car – and also three inches of additional hood clearance!
I have attached pictures showing threaded rods, rear suspension spacer blocks , and several “after” shots . Wheel openings are still in good relation to wheels, the bottom of the body is now about level with the bottom of the frame, and you can see the floor is about 3” above the frame! You’ll also notice that the wheels are much straighter, since their geometry is now proper.
Disclaimer : as the car now sits , everything is approximate. Tire size and wheel offset has not been finalized, which will have an effect, and body has not been finally mounted. The body should be a little higher for appearance. Tires are too far outboard, so they will foul the fenders in jounce. All of this will be solved as we move forward .
Stan Fowler: Update July 30, 2021
Stan works fast. The next day I received the following e-mail:
Slower day today – spent the morning finding and buying another engine. Decided spending any more time on an anemic 305 was time wasted. Found a 1997 fuel injected LT1 from a 1997 Pontiac WS6 Trans Am – a low mileage, about 300 horse power engine, from someone replacing it with a newer LS motor. The LT1 is what I was initially looking at, since it has a very low intake manifold – as well as it is a great looking motor. Should have no problems fitting under the hood as it is now. It is also ready to run – don’t have to spend time getting it in shape. Tomorrow I head to Kentucky to pick it up……another ROAD TRIP …….?!
Also got rid of the power steering – adding a manual steering drag link adaptor. Made the steering a lot simpler.
Also attached a “before” picture of seats in the car – floor height unchanged. Seat back about 6” above deck lid (without headrest ) . I need to find more than the 3” to get those seats DOWN! Not the same seats you gave me, but similar height off the floor. Nice Corbeau seat that you can be comfortable – were in the Devin, but too long for it. Also, a test sit in the Byers shows the floor needs to go further forward also to get a comfortable pedal package. Another reason I need to get an engine in it so see what space I have to play with…..
Getting a lot done since it is really hot and muggy up here . I’m just staying in the air conditioned shop. But the progress will slow down soon, since we have a lot of other events coming up – so don’t get to used to daily reports.
What a whirlwind start on Stan’s Byers build. I appreciate the detail he’s sending in and the photos too. Now I haven’t heard from Dennis since July 30th but he did mention in his last e-mail he was about to get busy in other areas. So I remain enthusiastic to see what he’s accomplished since his last communication and of course I’ll share it here with you.
Be sure to post questions to Stan here at the bottom of this story, and I’ll thank Stan in advance for any answers he has time to provide. Great story Stan and thanks for sharing 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.
Hey , Geoff – you caught me with the Rollie Langston Byers article ( very interesting ! ) , which naturally lead me to this article , and I’m embarassed that it’s been almost a year since it was updated ! As you know , my initial lightning start has been delayed by other projects that needed attention , and show season , but we really have enough progress accomplished to do a part 2 update : engine ,transmission , and driveline in , doors cut in , floor , dash , and front fender inners completed , radiator and fuel tank in ………
I have pictures on all of the above , whenever you have time to write it up. Next big step is to pull the body again for some added frame rework and suspension rebuild , which is probably a couple of months away . But after that , it won’t be long until it is a running , driving car ! ?
Love the renderings, especially with the Speedster wheels. Lowering the driving position is nothing new in these cars as we’ve documented an original builder splitting and widening a frame back in 1965. Stan’s work is good reference for the rest of us still working on cars at a much slower rate. Thanks Geoff and good luck Stan.
Thanks for the kind words Dave.
Looks very classy in green with the white walks and Stude caps. From the looks of his shop, he is well equipped to handle this project
Thanks for sharing