Body Off Restoration of 1964 Corvette Coupe – Part 1

About three weeks ago at our weekly local cruise-in, I had a drunk back into the right front of my 1964 Corvette. The police hauled him off to jail. Minor damage, but, at a minimum, the nose would have to be painted.  A few days later I met with the adjuster and my body shop guy to go over the damage.  Have to replace the right front bumper, the lower valance, a couple bumper braces and the grill.  The paint is old on the car and we convinced the adjuster that matching the paint would be very difficult.  He agreed to pay enough to have whole car color sanded and clear coated.


In addition, I am going to have the entire car painted at my expense.  There is one rusted out area on the frame and now seems to be a perfect time to remove the frame and fix what needs to be fixed.  I have a lift, so actually lifting the body was the least of my worries.  After searching online, I found a site with a checklist for removing the body.  While it was not totally complete, it sure was a huge help.  Since I have a history of writing up projects on this site, it seems only natural to do so now.



Basically, you need to unhook anything that connects the body to the frame.   There is no prescribed place to begin.  Removing the bumpers seemed a logical place to start.  All of the brackets must be removed as well.  This is one area where the checklist came up short as it did not mention removing the rear bumper brackets.  Off they must come.   The exhaust tips, the license plate bracket,  and the rear valance must be removed to lift the body off.   Now the exhaust can be removed.


With the exhaust out of the way, getting to the bumper brackets and taillight wiring is much easier.  All of the wiring must be unhooked at the rear including the wires at the fuel sender at the gas tank.  Be sure to  unhook the ground wire in the left rear tirewell area.  To reduce the cost of the paint job, I also removed the taillights as well as the all other trim on the car.  To remove the body, the antenna must also be removed.

The rocker panels must also be removed.  The seat belts and the shifter knob with the t-handle were the next items to be disconnected.  The knob screws off then the t-hadle will lift up.  On the t-handle, keep track of the spring and the nylon washers.  The shifter does not have to be removed as the now denuded shifter will slide through the boot as the body is lifted.   As the steering column must be disconnected in the engine bay, the bracket for the column inside the car must be loosened.  It does not have to be removed.  In the engine bay, unbolt the steering column at the rag joint.  Once it is unfastened, pull back on the steering column inside the car.



The first item that should be removed in the engine bay is the hood.  Other items to be disconnected in the engine bay are the brake lines to the master cylinder, the clutch pedal rod, and the accelerator linkage.  Behind the distributor, you will find the oil line for the oil pressure gauge.  It  must be removed and placed in such a position that it will not catch on anything as the body is lifted.  Also, in that same area, the tachometer cable must be removed from the distributor  as well as the back up light plug if you have reverse lights.  This would also be a good time to unhook the water temperature sender located at the right front of the intake manifold.  You will need to feed this wire back to the firewall to make sure it does not hang up on anything.  All ground straps must also be unhooked as well as the wiring to the alternator and the coil.



Now unhook the battery.  You may as well remove the battery as it will have to come out sooner or later.  The radiator must also be removed so drain the coolant, remove the shroud, removed the radiator bracket and lift the radiator out.  The heater hoses must also be disconnected from the engine.  If you have AC, you would unhook either the lines or remove the compressor from it’s bracket and tie it to the body so it would be out of the way.



Underneath the car, the parking brake cables must be disconnected.  The front parking brake cable from the firewall must be removed from the bracket on the floorplan and be left to dangle free.  The rear lines stay with the frame.  At the muffler clamps where the pipes go through the frame, there are ground straps on each side that have to be removed.  There is also a ground strap in the left front passenger wheel at the rear lower corner.  All the wires to the starter must be removed as well.  Also, both the inner and outer splash shields that attach to the frame in the firewall area must be removed.


At this point, everything should be disconnected except the body mount bolts.  These you will want to soak in penetrant for at least a couple days before you try to remove them, which will be the next step.



  1. Too bad about the drunk hitting your vette, but looks like you have a fun project going Jerry. One of my friends has a 64 also & his is way overdue for a restoration. Best of luck on your project…I’ll be following it !

    • Thanks. Got the frame back from the sandblasters today. We should get it repaired this weekend and then back to the sandblasters for them to do a final blast and the powdercoat it. I also took all of the suspension pieces, brackets, etc. there today. Should be fun and it will be a much nicer car when it is completed.

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