When it comes to custom Corvettes, especially C3s, more is usually too much. Late-60s Corvettes are works of art that were penned by the best automotive stylists of the 20th century. They were timeless and almost perfect rolling off the assembly line in St. Louis, Missouri.
Although the restored movement has resuscitated many hopeless Corvettes and granted them a new lease on life, here comes the catch. There is a fine line between clown car and perfection in the C3 restomod world. Straddling the line between factory ho-hum and updated magic is tricky, to say the least. And for years now, J&M Enterprizes has been turning out better than factory Corvettes for customers all over the country.
When we see a great example of a restomod C3, it always gets our attention, and Billy Mitchell’s 1968 Corvette Roadster built by Florida-based J&M, hits the bullseye. Resplendent in C7 factory gray and modern wheels, we were smitten. We were keen to uncover the backstory of this curvaceous coke-bottle beauty, and that’s what we bring to you here.
The Origins Of This 1968 Corvette
Hailing from the Houston area, Mitchell bought the old ‘Vette in 1995 and at some point later, disassembled the car. The C3 had seen a fairly hard life with 100k miles and a couple of color changes. What was once a burning passion to build a Corvette to his exact specifications stagnated under the weight of marriage, kids, and life.
Unfinished projects can bring you down, especially a Corvette in pieces hogging up space at the homestead. Billy found out about J&M Enterprizes from chassis manufacturer Street Shop and figured it was time to get the project rolling again with outside help. The car went into J&M in the spring of 2021 and rolled out completely refurbished in December 2023.
All In The Family
Tim Ames is the owner and resident guru at J&M, and his team are experts in transforming old Corvettes into modern restomod masterpieces. Tim recounts the backstory of the business and his family’s connection.
“My dad opened the shop in 1983 as a regular mechanical/body shop, fixing wrecks, and repairing broken down cars. We were always a Corvette family as far back as I can remember. My grandfather had an orange C3 that he was always working on and my Dad had a 1966 big block Coupe that he brought home in the mid-80s. My Dad and my uncle (who also had a Corvette shop in Texas until he recently retired) would buy Corvettes and fix them up and sell them when they were younger, it continued into adulthood as well.”
Like Father, Like Son
“My two brothers and I grew up working in the shop and we were taught bodywork, paint, and mechanical skills so we would have a trade to fall back on if needed. We all liked older cars and we would also buy, fix up, drive for a short while, and sell as a side hustle,” Tim said. “After coming back from college around 2001, I told my dad I’d like to transition into restoration work. Around the same time we started doing the body and paint work for Jerry’s Restoration, a local outfit that did Corvette restoration.”
“After completing a few cars, I finally talked my dad into restoring his ’66 Coupe. From there we started doing complete restorations, mainly NCRS type, and phased out the collision work,” Tim explained. “We started building restomods somewhere around 2007 and moved away from the numbers-matching restorations. I took over the shop about five years ago and my dad retired in 2020. He still comes to the shop (he owns the storage business on the same property,) checks out the work, and gives my guys some pointers.”
The Metamorphoses Begins
Billy brought the car to J&M and their skilled craftsmen got to work. Tim recounts the day the car was dropped off at the shop, “The body was on a wooden dolly and the rest of it was in plastic tote containers. The front clip had broken away from the firewall and needed help. Essentially a basket case, we knew we had our work cut out for us to get this car back together.”
Whether a house or a car, a stout foundation is the key to a solid build. Tim gave the guys at Street Shop a call and specified a C3 chassis with crème de la crème components. This is a complete package, to say the least. It came with a powder-coated frame, C7 suspension with QA1 coilovers, and Street Shop rack and pinion steering. Not to mention a Rock Valley fuel tank, stainless steel brakes, and fuel lines, fuel filter mounted with a return line, and other connections.
Fully Equipped Speed Shop Chassis
But wait, that’s not all. It came with the E-Stopp electric emergency brake system mounted to the chassis, an LS3 in place with the Street Shop’s serpentine system, transmission mounted, driveshaft, Z06 brakes complete with brake hoses, knuckles to attach the steering column, A/C system, battery tray provision, engine wiring kit that includes O2 sensors, MAF sensor and bung, gas pedal (DBW), computer and fuse box.
Other goodies include a DeWitts radiator and 3.55 gears at the rear. This mega chassis touches down on the tarmac with gigantic repro C7 wheels, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, 285/30/19s up front and 335/25/20s in the rear. The big meats in the back required tubbing the rear wheel wells a bit.
A far cry from the archaic 1968 chassis, this new foundation was ready to accept a modern mill. Again the LS3 came installed from Street Shop with 525 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque mated to a five-speed Tremec TKO 600. The engine is crowned with a Holley Sniper intake, custom coil covers, and stainless steel headers. This is big, reliable horsepower that scoots this Corvette better than most cars on the road today.
Getting The Body Back In Shape
Remember, the entire front clip of the Corvette was loose when it got to J&M, which led to the arduous task of rebuilding the fiberglass exoskeleton. The guys had their work cut out for them to say the least. This is where Billy and J&M made all the right decisions. It would have been easy to add flares, scoops, and baubles to the body but they weren’t interested in that kind of fluff. The C3 Corvette is so good, so pure from the factory, that it can rarely be improved. We can thank Bill Mitchell and David Holls for creating this automotive Mona Lisa, and Billy and Tim for adding only a skosh of automotive MSG to the equation.
The body was reassembled and finessed to be better than new. Then, when the old fiberglass had been smoothed to mirror straight, it entered the paint booth where it was sprayed in a base coat/clear coat, factory C7 Watkins Glen gray from RM Diamont.
Inside the cockpit, the restomod theme of “original but better” continued. Drawing inspiration from Billy’s late model GMC Denali truck, the charcoal color combo was locked in. Look closely and check out the leather-stitched door panels and the taller, modernized center console armrest.
Like the exterior, it all looks stock until closer inspection. Al Knoch supplied the dash and windshield trim, and Blevins Auto stitched the seats, and door panels and installed the Stayfast top. Dakota Digital supplied the gauges and the soundtrack is provided by Custom Autosound with Bluetooth and Fosgate speakers. The beautiful LT-15 woodgrain steering wheel is made by Scott Drake Feroce and could have rolled off the assembly line with the car in 1968.
Four Round Tailights Drive Off Into The Vanishing Point
For now, Billy and his wife Jill are getting acquainted with their new road rocket. From very humble roots, Billy and J&M saved an old Corvette from the jaws of oblivion and reincarnated it to see another day. Billy told us, “We are planning to attend some local weekend car shows. But mostly we plan to drive the car on country roads outside of Houston on sunny days. I’m extremely happy with the look and feel of the car and it turned out exactly how I wanted it, audacious but not overdone.”