It’s been said that there are only two types of music. Country. And western.
One might think writing a country song would be easy. You know, “Momma got out of jail and was run over by a train in the rain,” and all that sort of business.
It’s actually very hard to write a great country song. Why? Because, all the good ones have already been written, and with a running time of only two to four minutes, there isn’t a lot of “canvas” to get your point across. Creativity inside those constrictive parameters requires considerable skill.
Same thing with custom Corvettes, especially C3s. Many have been constructed over the years with varying degrees of success and with the subsequent explosion of the restomod movement, the parameters of a new age, old Corvette are now as delineated as aforementioned country song.
Instead of getting ginned up, partying all night and breaking hearts, we got LS power, tube chassis and late model Corvette running gear.
Taking an entrenched blueprint and creating something new requires talent and originality.
That’s why we really dig Joseph III and Aaron Ramon’s 1972 Corvette built by Keith Standish and Russ Richard over at K.A.R.S.–Keith’s Auto Repair Service–out of McAllen, Texas.
SRIII Chassis, C4 Suspension bits, LS Power and a whole lotta gold powder coat. Fantastic.
Keith’s take on the C3 Corvette is tender and restrained coupled with some very bold strokes thrown in for puncuation. We were curious to meet the man behind the build.
I could tell Keith was a serious car guy when we met at SEMA 2016 and shook hands. When you turn wrenches, sand and paint for a living, your hands grow into big mitts with a vise-like grip and Keith is a text book example. Along with a big smile and obvious passion for Corvettes, he revealed himself as a guy who is thoroughly engaged in his craft.
This old C3 was the recipient of Keith’s handiwork and has a myriad of tweaks. While some may jump right out at you, many are so subtle and clever that they only present themselves after multiple viewings. In fact most could be OEM they are so seamlessly integrated into the old C3.
Super straight bodywork and paint sparkle here. Custom rocker panels are cleverly integrated. Keith got vertical fender gill effect simply by removing horizontal elements and it looks OEM. Modern badging and lettering look right at home here.
Our story starts with Joseph Ramon III and his son Aaron from Mission, Texas. The Ramon clan originally approached Keith to customize a Corvette that father Joe bought for scion Aaron. As often happens, when the project unfolded, it became a full-on, custom restomod and a repository for all Keith’s tricks and artistic touches he’s accrued after owning 17 Corvettes and 31 years in the custom auto business. When the build was done they christened it SRC3, “S,” for Standish and “R,” for Ramon and the rest is self explanatory.
The Ramon men are very proud that this all-American sports car was dreamed up and built in deep south Texas too.
The car started out as a fairly nice 1972 Ontario Orange coupe and was a solid foundation to build upon. Keith got to work and separated the old fiberglass body from it’s ancient chassis and the chrysalis began.
Serious artillary here. Ramon Sr. says "Drives like a brand new 'Vette."
The blueprint of the car is a laundry list of state-of-the-art ‘Vette restomod hardware. Starting with a gold, powdered coated SRIII Stage II custom chassis, Keith added a C5 front suspension coupled with a C4 IRS rear end and ash canned the transverse buggy springs for coil over Viking shocks. For the “whoa” power, Wilwood brakes were installed all around with 14 inch, 6-piston up front and 13 inch, 4-piston in the rear. Forgeline RB3C wheels and Michelin Pilot Super Sports–255/40/18s up front and 295/35/19s in the rear–complete the rolling chassis. Keith said “The SRIII chassis was a dream to work with. Everything mounted up perfectly and the quality was top notch. I’m a big fan.”
Just a little, stock 400hp LS2 all dressed up. Check out the cool front accessory drive and all killer hardware bits. Love the coil covers and custom plenum cover too.
With the stout tube frame ready to accept the engine, Keith did a number on polishing up a new era small block Chevy. He started with a 400hp LS2 V8 and added a Billet Specialties True Trac serpentine accessory drive and topped it off with a KARS custom SRC3 plenum cover. Be Cool Aluminum radiator, Magnaflow exhaust and Spear Tech LS wiring keep things cool, collected and connected.
A Tremec T56 Magnum 6-speed transmission, Stage 1 Street Ceramix clutch and Bowler shifter knob transfer power to the pavement.
With the more than capable chassis sorted out, the guys directed their attention to customizing the old Shark body and this is where Keith’s talent with fiberglass shines bright.
Subtle tweaks everywhere, yet none detract from basic C3 goodness.
Keith loves the C3’s styling but thought it had the equivalent of an automotive underbite, “I thought the front grill area would look better if it was moved forward a bit, so I played around with the front end until the C7 side markers fit. Then, after cutting my own templates, I glassed in the C7’s lower winglets , added a custom grille, and fashioned the spoiler.” The result looks like it could have rolled off the line in ’72, only better.
Integration of C7 winglets and chin spoiler is deft. You’d have to look twice to notice how much finessing went in to bringing C3’s “jaw” out a little further.
Keith’s subtle styling touches gently nudge and massage the lines of Bill Mitchell and David Holl’s masterpiece. Custom K.A.R.S. rockers, door handles, late model side mirrors, LT1 hood/diffuser, custom front and rear bumpers and billet emblems from Paradigm iWorks.
Be sure and check out the bumpers, the front is tightened up and smoothed, but the rear bumper is the trickiest mod. Can you spot it?
The stock split bumper was swapped out for a first-gen Camaro bumper and the license plate housing was moved out a bit. The exhaust tips are faired in with custom tips as well.
One piece rear bumper might go unnoticed to novice eye. License plate moved out and custom exhaust tips complete rear end mods.
With the alterations complete, the reborn C3 was sprayed out in Candy Ruby Red with “Caribou,” and black and gold striping.
The interior of this ’72 probably is the most radical aspect of the build. Third gen Corvettes are notorious for funky ergonomics, difficult sight lines and seating that forces the driver into a praying mantis-like driving position.
The dash was a semi-custom unit that Keith cut in half to make fit. This is a beautiful fix for fussy stock dash and ergonomics.
Keith rethought all that with a new instrument panel from the center console upward, replacing the stock unit with a custom dash and gauge cluster by Marquez and Autometer gauges. Keith sorted out the the center console configuration with a KARS design as well. Ultra leather, C6 seats by Palmas, Billet Specialties steering wheel and Ididit steering column bring the interior into the 21st century. To finish it off, the whole thing is swathed in creamy mocha color that compliments the exterior hue nicely.
Corvette Online has gone on record with our take on the restomod movement. We think if the essence of an old Corvette is tastefully updated with modern mechanicals and cosmetics, the car is re-born and remains a worthy addition to the Corvette family.
As beautiful as ever, even with most surfaces “touched.”
Mr. Standish’s take on a C3 certainly plays with the aforementioned boundaries. That may be where the Corvette as art “lives.” Knowing what to leave out, is sometimes as important as what to add.
Meanwhile, the car became too epic as a daily driver and now sees fair weather duty at car shows while turning heads and breaking hearts.
Hmmm, sounds there a country song in there somewhere.