Video: Jonsey’s Automotive Restoration Restores a 1956 SR-2 Corvette

Before there was Corvette Racing, the Corvette SR-2 was GM’s factory racecar back in 1956 and 1957. However, there were only three made, and the one you’re looking at in the video was one that belonged to Jerry Earl, Harley Earl’s son. This SR-2 Corvette was built by GM when younger Earl announced that he was racing in a Ferrari 250 MM. GM management told elder Earl that his son should be racing a GM car, which is how the SR-2 design came into fruition. “If you sell the Ferrari, I will build you a special Corvette to Race,” Earl offered – and so the father and son deal was made.

The SR-2 Corvette being restored by Jonesy’s Automotive Restoration was the first car that was built for younger Earl. The part of the car that you might notice the most is the high fin that is molded to the rear deck and comes up right behind the driver’s headrest – very similar to that of the Jaguar D-Type. There are a lot of special components on this SR-2 Corvette, making it one of the most sought after live-axle Corvettes in history.

Looking at the exterior, there is really nothing aesthetically wrong with the car, but there is more than meets the eye. In the video, CEO and shop manager, Joel “Jonesy”, looks over the car and goes over some interesting reasons why some of the components on the race-clad Corvette aren’t period-correct. First of all, the engine is a 327 that dates back to approximately 1965, which is completely wrong. Jonesy states in the video that the possibility of the original engine being blown up and replaced is entirely plausible – it was a fully dedicated racecar, mind you.

Moving along to the underside of the car, another component that is not period-correct is the headers – The original engine in the car had manifolds, not headers, making this another indication that the engine is definitely not the original. One cool thing about the underside of the fiberglass body is that it was painted red along with the wheel wells. It only makes sense to restore the underbody with the red paint because it was elder Earl’s trademark.

Aside from restoring the car as authentically they can, Jonesy and his crew are going to make some aspects of the car safer as well. For example, the battery cables that run along the framerail in parallel with the fuel line are hazardous and will be tucked nicely to where they can’t be easily damaged. Inspecting more of the underbody, Jonesy points out that there is some burnt fiberglass in certain places, but that will all be fixed or replaced.

Towards the rear of the car, the metal fuel line running in parallel with the battery cables connects to an electric fuel pump, which definitely isn’t period-correct for the car and will be replaced.

An interesting feature that Jonesy pointed out is that the SR-2 had a rear swaybar that was made specially for racing – regular production Corvettes in 1956 and 1957 didn’t come with a swaybar. The limiting straps on the rear axle are also exclusive to the SR-2 Corvette as well.

In the rest of the first video, Jonesy shows some of the original paperwork that the car came with, which really demonstrates how significant and special the car is – even all of the build order forms are still intact and very legible. The documentation that came with the car also has the original prototype drawings for the rear swaybar setup; how cool is that? There are photos that show the car being designed and built by GM’s workers and pictures that show some of the components that were specially made for the SR-2.

Part Two

In part two of the Corvette SR-2 restoration video, Jonesy walks through some of the repairs that they’ve done to the underside of the car and shows us how the original fiberglass from 1956 has held up through the years. After hours and hours of sanding down the underbody, it got a nice coat of beige primer and some texture coating in the wheel wells.

Once the primer was laid down, Jonesy shows the porosity of the fiberglass and why it was troublesome to paint an early Corvette. Besides the porosity issues, the underbody of the car looks great with new primer laid down. The red paint was sprayed shortly after the primer was dry and prepped. As you can see in the still pictures toward the end of the video, the underbody was sprayed up to the beginning of the transmission tunnel, where it will fade to black for the engine bay.

The underside of the SR-2 C0rvette looks great already, but there’s still a lot more that needs to be done to get the car back to it’s original state, which may not be completely achievable, but Jonesy and his crew are going to do their best to make this SR-2 as authentic as possible. We’re pretty excited to see the car when it’s done and we’ll definitely be following Jonesy’s YouTube Channel to see updates on the car. Nice work thus far, Gentlemen!


About the author

Josh Kirsh

Born in Van Nuys, Raised in Murrieta, Joshua Kirsh is a SoCal Native. With a love for anything on wheels since the ripe young age of two, Joshua Managed to turn his love for automobiles into a career. As Power Automedia's newest writer, he plans to bring you some of the industry's hottest news topics while he's not out in the shop wrenching on some of our badass in-house project builds.
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