A Sinister Stingray Emerges From Illinois

Sinister C3When Corvette Online visited the Corvette Funfest 2014 in Effingham, Illinois back in September, we were happy to find as many awesome cars as we did, but we just didn’t have the the time to investigate them all. Luckily there is always next year, and Mid America Motorworks is always sure to impress for each year’s event.

One of the great cars and owners that we were able to spend some time with, was this mean-looking 1975 Corvette Stingray coupe. This C3 was driven to the Corvette Funfest by its owner, Mark Camp, from his home in Paris, Illinois. We found that nearly all the Corvettes there had been driven to the show from somewhere in the United States, demonstrating the “down to earth” personalities that we like to see at these events.

We understand that there are some restorations and race cars that shouldn’t or can’t legally be driven cross-country, but for the majority, it really gives Corvette owners a chance to enjoy our cars for that they were designed for. Some of the “older” Corvettes do need a little bit of love to get back to their former glory before running down the open road, and this Stingray was one such example.


The Beginning

For the most part, we are brought together with a common love for Corvettes, but what differentiates us from each other is how or why we got started on the Corvette path. For Camp, this began at a pretty young age. He explained, “When I was ten years old, I got to ride with my cousin’s boyfriend, in his own Vette. I actually got to ride in the rear cubby and he let me stand on the console and hang out of the T-Top!”

_MG_7084We could imagine the look on a young boy’s face getting to experience such a thing, and as evident today, it made quite the impression having occurred around 30 years ago. We found that many fellow Corvette fans got hooked on America’s sports car at a young age, and luckily Camp’s dream has now become a reality.

When asked about some personal details regarding the car, Camp shared with us a little story that definitely made us think. “I originally bought [the car] with money I inherited from by dad’s passing. I was going to just repaint the car, but later decided to do a complete rebuild. I cashed out a 401(k) I had, and started enjoying that money now.”

As we have discussed, cars are more than a mode of transportation to the majority of us, and when it involves something like a family member that passed away, it can really tug at the heartstrings for car guys. Instead of waiting, Camp clearly made the decision to enjoy some of the fruits of his labors now, instead of waiting and we can’t blame him.

As important as planning for tomorrow is, sometimes you just need to enjoy the time you have. Additionally, we were sure Camp’s father would be happy knowing he was able to contribute to this awesome Corvette.

A Work In Progress

Camp told us that he purchased the car for about $6,300 and began the project in October of 2013. While he said it’s not yet complete (primarily speaking about the interior), he estimated he had close to $30,000 in the C3 between the purchase price and all work completed thus far.

This first phase of restoration was completed around July 2014, making it a very fresh build considering he drove it to Effingham about two months later. Camp mentioned that the interior was not complete, and he wanted to improve upon it in years to come. While the factory dash and instrument cluster remained, the gauges had been dressed up with white-faced overlays. The sound system however, was far improved from the audio technology available in 1975.

_MG_7088Having completing all of the work himself, Camp installed speakers into the three-door compartment as well as some factory location replacements. A radio, speakers, sub-woofers and amplifiers have all been outfitted to the C3 using a combination of components from Kenwood, Kicker, and Alpine.

Additionally, the interior had been upgraded with some Recaro competition seats, making seat time both more comfortable and secure for those times of spirited driving. It certainly changed the overall look of the interior, but we thought it really was in line with the overall concept of the build.

A sound system and a couple seats are only the beginning to the work completed on this awesome C3. Mark Camp told us, “While I didn’t know the exact order of the modification process, I had a general plan, and I just knew what I wanted. This is the only Corvette I have built, and knowing the end result would be my own creation helped to keep me motivated.”

While Camp mentioned he would like to change the wiring should he rebuild or rework the car, his favorite parts so far were the paint work and engine. He added, “I decided I would rather build my car then buy it, allowing me to know what I have and know exactly what to expect.” While not everyone has the time or means to build their own desired car, we certainly know exactly what Camp meant.

Aside from the fulfillment of building your own creation, there is something comforting in knowing the ins and outs of any motorized vehicle. It allows you to better diagnose the car should anything happen, and instills a level of confidence if you are going to use the car in a performance manner, where safety is imperative. We were also happy to hear that the car had never been in an accident, yet another aspect you may not be fully confident unless you’ve ever torn into your own car.


The Bark

Camp told us that he really liked the way the paint and engine turned out on the build. The drivetrain had certainly received its fare share of attention, but first let’s look at what gives this 3rd generation Corvette that sinister look that first caught our eye on the lawn that afternoon.

_MG_7099The car’s body received a bit of what we call shaving in which rain gutters, door handles, emblems, etc. are removed, while any holes are then filled in giving the car a smooth, near-seamless look. This C3 has had a majority of the badging removed, which helps to add a more modern, clean look to the body. A four-inch raised cowl hood was also fitted before the entire body was carefully massaged and sanded flat before rolling into the paint booth. The paint color that Camp chose is actually a GM factory color named “Storm Grey.”

While some may not notice it at first, especially in poorly lit conditions, there is a stunning silhouette of the Corvette Stingray logo painted down the center of the hood, in “Dark Charcoal” with a metallic additive known as “Crushed Glass”; quite the detail when the hood is standing open. All of the paint and body work was performed by J+B Customs in Paris, Illinois.

The Bite

The body definitely looked great with the paint choices and dark grey and black accents, but such a sinister-looking Vette just wouldn’t feel right without packing a mean punch under its hood. In this case, Camp elected to run the naturally aspirated, GM supplied small block, which had been freshened up and bored 0.30-inches over.

The block was also wearing a pair of ported and polished aluminum NKB heads which helped to push the exhaust through full length headers, and a custom three-inch exhaust system, complete with electric cutouts, making for one mean-sounding system. The power runs through an automatic 700R4 transmission, followed by a factory driveline and rear differential.

An aluminum radiator had been added to the engine compartment along with accompanying electric fans which really helps to keep the V8 cool, whether driving cross-country on hot days, or running the local drag strip.

Speaking of running the strip, while Camp couldn’t remember what time he flew through the traps at, his C3 was able to easily accelerate to 130 mph in the quarter-mile. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any dyno (dynomometer) information available for the car, but with a top speed of 130 mph in the quarter-mile, it would have had to have been putting out some reasonable horsepower, certainly more than this ’75 had when it left the dealership some 40 years ago.

For a car built to be driven, you can not overestimate the importance of having a good-handling, well-built suspension. To insure reliability and ride quality, Camp opted to run a Mid America Motorworks suspension kit named the Grand Touring System.


Photo courtesy of: Mid America Motorworks

Mid America Motorworks’ explains this system as follows: “Balanced anti-sway bars assure flat, neutral steering. New springs restore ride height and lifetime KYB gas shocks smooth and help control the car. Kit features: 1 1/8-inch front anti-sway bar kit, 3/4-inch rear anti-sway bar kit, 460 lb/in powder-coated front coil springs, KYB GR-2 shocks, nine leaf steel spring and leaf spring hardware kit.”

While Corvette Online has not used this particular system, we are very familiar with their parts and can speak to the quality of their products. Accordingly, we can assume that this Corvette rides and handles as good as it looks. Additionally, Camp wanted to give special thanks to both Jimmy Plummer, the owner of J+B Customs, as well as Chris Drake and Dusty Drake, the owners of Up and Gone Diesel for their help with many aspects of building this beautiful 1975 Corvette.

To finish off the sinister or stealthy look of this C3, Camp opted to run a set of US Wheel, Stealth wheels wrapped in Mastercraft rubber in the original factory size [245/60R15].

Until Next Year

Camp is a member of the Corvette Club if Illinois and tries to be as active as possible in participating in their events.

_MG_7081The car is used to seeing some decent mileage as Camp reported, “It’s not a daily driver, but I drive it on nice days.” We like to hear when these beautiful machines are seeing adequate time on the asphalt, and we really look forward to seeing the car next year, along with any new improvements!

It really was a pleasure getting to meet Mark Camp, and talk a bit about his beloved C3 build. We were first attracted to the car itself, but when you meet a fellow Corvette owner, especially one who has dedicated their time to rebuilding an older car, it really helps to remind us of all the things we love about theses cars.

Again, we are sorry for Camp’s loss of his beloved father, but hopefully having a special connection with the car will continue to help Camp appreciate both the car and the opportunity to build his own version of the perfect Corvette.

So long as we continue to be invited, we will be making the trek out to Effingham, Illinois for the spectacular show on the grounds of Mid America Motorworks in September of each year. Camp assured us that he will be returning this year, for the 2015 Funfest and we look forward to reconnecting with him and several other familiar faces. Of course we’d also love to see any new improvements to the car, so keep on wrenching, Mark!


About the author

Brent Davis

Brent was born and raised in Southern California. After earning a Bachelors Degree in business marketing from California State University San Marcos, and a project management certificate from the University of California at San Diego, he decided to turn a lifelong passion for automobiles and motorsports into a career. Brent has a specific passion for diesel-powered and all-terrain vehicles that have helped him haul and recover recreational toys over the years.
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