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Email September 23rd, 2013

Dear Terry,
Here is the history of 1963 Z-06 #9,046
The history goes back to 1969-1970 with the Cox family. Unlike a lot of C-2 Corvettes in the 1970's which were abused, #9,046 was special and loved by each owner. For example, before Mike Harling acquired it, Wade Isom owned it and for Wade it was a dream come true since he spent years trying to persuade Sam Eltonhead to sell it. Sam and I met around 1980 when I was driving a red '63 FI coupe one way and saw a saddle tan '63 coupe heading the other way, I made a u-turn to chase down this cool split window down and next thing the saddle tan '63 passes me going the opposite way again....over the years we became good friends so when Sam got #9,046 in 1984, the car moved only a half a mile away.

I also found the original enclosed photographs taken in 1977 of #9,046 around the time I got my first look at the car. (see that red '63 coupe in the photo too) Actually, my dad flew down from New York to Baltimore to pick #9,046 up. The car was located for us by Brian Tilles, of Corvette Specialties of Maryland. Brian was and is a friend of the family. When I told him I was looking for a big tank Z-06, Brian knew of a car then owned by a Baltimore police officer, Frank Soistman.

In 1977 Brian was a very savvy full time Corvette guy and knew the difference between a factory and non-factory N-03 installation. Dad and I were willing to buy the car sight unseen based on our confidence in Brian's knowledge and integrity that it was a factory big tank Z-06. We weren't disappointed.

Anyway, dad flew down to Baltimore and completed the deal which at that time was for approximately $4,500.00; a lot of money back then given the price of a new 1977 Corvette. Both dad and I forgot about bringing our own license plate tags so Frank Soistman was kind enough to loan us his tags for the trip home. The 4-23-77 paperwork covered dad's drive back.

My dad really enjoyed that trip since he stopped outside of Baltimore to fill the car up. At that time gas stations were mostly still full service. Typical big tank story; the kid at the gas station said, "Mister, there must be some kind of problem with your car since we're up to already 30 gallons". Dad played the role perfectly, shrugged and told the kid "just let me know when it's full" and never clued the kid in. The kid kept on looking underneath the car for the big puddle of gas.

Dad arrived home late in the evening and the following day I took Frank Soistman's license plates off, washed our new baby and took the enclosed photos (notice in the photos the driveway's still wet). Once I examined the car, I was even more pleased since not only were all of the finned brake drums and vented backing plates in good condition, but the condition of the frame itself was exceptional. The frame had virtually no rust that you typically associate with Northern winter driven cars.

Our seller, Frank Soistman, purchased the Z-06 from Surburban Chevrolet in Maryland. So, I contacted Surburban Chevrolet and the salesman there remembered the car very well because of the big tank and brakes being so unusual. Though I was only 23 years old at the time, I was very history conscious. I asked Surburban Chevrolet if they'd be willing to do a letter about the car and they wrote a very nice letter in 1977 detailing the options that were on the car, i.e.; the big tank, special brakes, etc. when they aquired it. That also lead me to their seller, Ira Cox.

I found the original of the 1977 Surburban Chevrolet letter a few years ago when Wade Isom owned #9,046 and  told Wade it was a really neat piece of documentation to have. I suggested he follow up with me since I needed to make color photocopies of the original letter from Surburban Chevrolet and warned Wade that if he didn't follow up soon, it was likely the letter would get rat holed in a file somewhere. (I knew Wade, so I was trying to light a fire under him, good guy ,but very laid back). Wade never followed up and the letter got put in a file somewhere, so the letter will turn up again probably when I am not looking for it. The letter should go with the car. I have some more paperwork on #9,046 which I'll get out to you next week.

Some additional information about Z-06 #9,046. The black and white photo shows the interior after I removed the tank cover bolts in preparation of a partial dis-assembly in anticipation of a restoration. This photo and/or other black and white photos of #9,046 probably were taken for use in the 1982 articles I did for the NCRS "Corvette Restorer" magazine on the Z-06 option. Back 30 years ago, the NCRS magazine only featured black and white photographs.

When Sam Eltonhead bought it in 1984, to get the restoration off to a really good start he had #9,046 's frame chemically stripped by "Redi Strip" instead of using overly aggressive media blasting. The body was chemically stripped of paint and was quite nice with original doors, roof, rear tail lamp panel and '63 front inner fender skirts. I also accumulated original early 1963 front end fiberglass --- original factory front louver panels, 63 parking lamp panels and an NOS Chevrolet hood surround along with a perfect 1963 hood in the same VIN range with the hood wedges etc. So, unless something was replaced after1984-85 (which I doubt), there were no reproduction fiberglass panels used anywhere on the car when Sam originally did the body. Sam was a real dyed in wool '63 guy and already owned a saddle tan 1963 factory air coupe. He owned #9,046 for many years, but his job as a commercial jet pilot never gave him time to cmplete the restoration, so he reluctantly sold it to Wade Isom.

A fascinating characteristic of #9,046 involved the factory installation of the 36.5 gallon gas tank. The St. Louis factory used both an early style and a late style N-03 rear wheelhouse inner fender cap on #9,046. The early style N-03 rear wheelhouse inner fender cap is unique with the pronounced mesh of the fiberglass cloth being readily apparent on the interior side. Evidently, one of the very early inner fender caps from one of the 15 "Specially Assigned" Z-06's had gotten re-cycled and was simply used on a regular production Z-06. Because of the way the N-03 option was installed, this is really no surprise. The opposite side's inner fender cap had a smooth match molded exterior surface finish typical of 1963 (and later) "production" N-03 parts.

If you check the 2 articles I wrote for the NCRS  "Corvette Restorer" magazine on the Z-06 option around 1981-82. I'm fairly certain I referenced this idiosyncrasy in one of the two articles since at that time I compared it to  the Grady Davis "Gulf-2" Z-06 which was one of the fifteen "Specially Assigned" Z-06's. Though the Grady Davis "Gulf-2" Z-06's actual VIN number is #2244, you'll see it referred to as Z-06 #2,300 in one of the 1981-82 articles
 for reasons that had to do with the 1983 Federal Court litigation on "Gulf-2".

On the people side of the equation, Z-06 #9,046 was a very important part in the life of everyone who owned it. Dad and I really loved that car as a father and son thing. Then too it was a heavily optioned car between the Sebring silver paint and real factory installed power windows. Approximately 3 years ago I got either a telephone call or an email out of the clear blue sky from the son of the owner of #9,046 who had traded the car into Surburban Chevrolet. The car's owner from probably 1970 to 1977 was a gentleman named Ira Cox. Anyway, his now adult son Ira Jr. called me and said that he had spoken to me over 30 years ago, and that I probably wouldn't remember him. He was right; I didn't. As it turned out that call was important to Ira Jr. -- He said I called Ira Cox Sr. in 1977 to talk to him about the history of the car but it his then teenage son, Ira Jr., who first answered the phone and still remembered that telephone call since he knew their car was in good hands. Ira Jr. then put his dad on the phone. Basically, their baby went to another father/son which was me and my dad.

Like me and my dad, that car meant a lot to Ira Junior and Senior. I wasn't aware of it in 1977, but Ira Sr. used the Z-06 as part trade on a newer 1970's Corvette. Young Ira grew up and became the middle aged Ira who got in touch with me 3 years ago, and Z-06 #9,046 had a prfound influence on Ira Jr. Turns out that today Ira Jr. is the proud owner of both a C-6 Z-06 and a 1967 big block Corvette coupe. I have Ira's emails to me and mine to him, so if you didn't get them from Mike Harling, they are available. Someone should interview Ira Junior and Senior since theirs is a real interesting family history and a great American story -- which I will let Ira tell better than I could ever.

Z-06 #9,046 was one of the most intact big tank cars compared to a lot of other Z-06's that I looked at most of which were badly trashed before people began appreciating how special these cars are. I thought enough of the car and Mike Harling's restoration to gift Mike in 2012 an absolutely real NOS 1963 5/8ths inch heater hose to include in detailing the engine compartment. When I saw #9,046 at Bloomington Gold in 2011 or '12 restored, I wish my dad was around to enjoy what we wanted to do some 35 years before. Since #9,046 was and is something very special to all who have had the pleasure of its company, I hope you and future owners enjoy it
 as much as everyone who had it did.

Warm Regards, Eric

P.S. When #9,046 was recently restored, the shop added some filler over the mesh on the early inner fender cap and smoothed it out, not being aware that the exposed fiberglass cloth mesh was to be preserved. This is excusable since if you haven't closely examined 1 of the 15 "Specially Assigned" Z-06's you might assume the exposed weave of the fibreglass cloth was the result of an owner's mistake. I expect a careful examination should be able to discern which of the two inner fender caps on #9,046 is the early one. With some careful application of the correct type of paint stripper, one should be able to return the early inner fender cap to its original cosmetic appearance on the interior side of the car. I would start by finding out what the Nabors Brothers typically used for fillers so that one can choose the appropriate paint stripper product. And, I am sure Ken and Gary would share their choice of interior black paint formula which should make a perfect match should one desire to return this unique characteristic to the car.

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