Glenn Palmer’s Restored & Improved 1964 Sting Ray Convertible

Firemen Car-Guys bring a tired old Corvette back to life!

Dateline: 9.15.22 – This story was first published in the November 2021 issue of Vette Vues Magazine Police, Fire, and First Responders are a unique breed of American. The work is dangerous and just like military combat experience, unique bonds are formed, sometimes for life. This story is about fellow firemen; Lance Mallow, the Corvette’s third owner, and life-long Corvette-guy, Glenn Palmer. Glenn was part of the teams from all over America sent to work as part of the FEMA teams for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Lance Mallow was a big, strapping football player as a young guy. In 1973 Lance bought a white 1964 Corvette Convertible from his high school football coach. The car was originally purchased new from from Courtesy Chevrolet, in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 3, 1964. Lance’s coach was the third owner. The car has never been out of arid Arizona, so there was no rust on the car whatsoever.

Once A Daily Driver

For years the Corvette was Lance’s daily driver and along the way, he personalized the car with lots of typical ’70s street machine features, including; Hooker Header Side-Pipes, Mags, a diamond-tuft interior, and numerous other bling-things. Hey, it was the ’70s and Lance had a blast with his Corvette.

Glenn met Lance Mallow in 1981 when they started working out of Fire Station 27, in Phoenix, Arizona. Firemen spend a lot of time training and maintaining their equipment to be ready in a heartbeat. Along the way, Glenn and Lance learned of their mutual interest in cars and Corvettes. Lance’s Corvette was his daily driver, so Glenn got to see the car every day and got to know the car well.

In 1984 Glenn was assigned to a different fire station, and as often happens with co-workers, Life got in the way, and the guys lost contact. Lance retired from the Fire Department in 2010 after he was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease; an inherited genetic neurological brain disease with no cure that affects one’s physical, mental, and emotional abilities.

Time For A Frame-Off Restoration

Early in 2018, Lance contacted Glenn to let him know about his retirement and illness and asked Glenn if he would help him complete the frame-off restoration of his 1964 Corvette that he started in 2010. By this time, Glenn had restored several Corvettes and was happy to help.

Part of the problem Lance was having was that he started the project eight years before, and as his illness progressed, it was affecting his memory. The engine went to a shop and the body went to a different shop for paint, and Lance couldn’t quite remember where the parts were. Parts that hadn’t been sent out for work were stored in big bins.

Lance was good with the tools but wasn’t much on keeping receipts and records. Fortunately, since Glenn had restored several Mid-Year Corvettes, he easily recognized the parts and knew how they went back together. The 1964 Corvette was literally in pieces, scatter about in different places.

Lance was doing a serious restoration and had the body and frame on dollys. The body was sent out to be stripped, block-sanded, primered, etc, and painted Ermine White, and the frame was power-coated gloss-black. The painted body and original hardtop were then stored in another fireman’s garage. Lance was also a pilot and had a pilot friend that let him store some of the parts in an airplane hanger.

Glenn and Lance also had to find the engine. Lance’s illness had affected his memory and he couldn’t remember where he sent the engine for machine work. After sleuthing around, Glenn found the engine in the back of an automotive machine shop, under a tarp.

The original owner of the shop died a few years before, but fortunately, a mechanic in the shop remembered the project and Lance. The machine work was completed and Lance and Glenn decided to let the shop complete the short-block assembly for $900.

Life and be “strange”. While Lance had a terminal illness, his Huntington’s Disease did not kill him, a car crash in November 2018 did. At Lance’s funeral, Glenn met Lance Jr., also a fireman, and afterward, they talked about the Corvette. Lance Jr. wanted to take the Corvette home to put the car back together, but when he saw the enormity of the project, plus the fact that he didn’t have a place to store and work on the car, he offered to sell the Corvette to Glenn.

A deal was struck, and the project was Glenn’s. Glenn has a large garage, with a lift, so all of the parts and a dozen large black and yellow storage bins were gathered to finish the project.

Every restoration has an objective; “to what configuration will the project be?” Will it go back to assembly line new with all the replacement parts being year-specific; what systems on the car will be enhanced, and will the enhancement parts and systems be modern, or period-correct to the time of the car? Glenn and Lance chose to bring the car back to stock, but with a few extras from newer C2 Corvettes.

The Three Years From 2018 to 2021 Were a Labor of Love for Glenn

With all the parts except for the stock intake manifold and carb recovered, the restoration and assembly work began. Glenn located a period-correct manifold and carburetor. The engine is the optional $53, L75 327/300. This was a sleeper option for Corvette buyers, as although the engine’s horsepower rating was only 300-hp, it had 360-ft/lb of torque; 10-ft/lbs more than the mighty 327/375 L84 Fuelie!

Upgrades to the car included; a new 1964 power booster, coupled to a 1967 dual-reservoir master cylinder for better braking, an all-new period-correct set of Corvette disc brakes, a new power steering unit; genuine stock-size Knock-Off aluminum wheels by Western Wheel, a set of 2-1/2-inch Fuelie ram horn exhaust manifolds, and a new convertible top. Every component is either new, rebuilt, refurbished, or NOS.

Glenn found a ’67 Stinger big-block hood, painted it to match the body, and had the Rally Red Stinger stripes painted on. It looked too good to pass on. All of the original parts that were replaced were cleaned, bagged, and boxed if a future owner wants to go totally back to factory stock.

As with any frame-off restoration project, after the parts are gathered, it takes care and patience to get everything back together, literally, “good-as-new”. The black powder-coated frame was reassembled with new shocks, bushings, tie-rod ends, bushings, and fuel lines. The differential, drive-shaft, and half-shafts were power-coated silver. The rebuilt L75 327/300 engine and upgraded disc brakes, master cylinder, and power-booster were installed.

During the car’s ’70s Custom Days, in addition to the diamond-tufted seats, door panels, and shag carpeting, the dash had been painted dark Oxblood Red. Everything was replaced with period-correct red seat covers, red carpet, and red interior paint, including the hard top’s red headliner. The reproduction Knock-Off Western Wheels are shod with stock-size Hankook Optimo radial tires. Glenn had the new convertible top professionally installed and aligned to work, factory-easy; a six-hour job.

Lance’s football coach and Lance never abused the Corvette, the car was never in an accident, and was well-maintained. Aside from the cosmetic work and sourcing parts, the assembly was straightforward and very familiar to Glenn. The restoration build is “enhanced stock” and has nothing “modern” built into the car. It is an excellent, solid driver, and with the disc brakes upgrade, it is truly “better-than-new”.

Of course, when a project such as Lance and Glenn’s has been completed, the next question is, “What are you going to do with the car now?” Since completion, Glenn has put on less than 100 miles on the car. The L75 327/300 still has the high-zinc break-in oil.

As of this writing, August 2021, it is hot as blazes in Phoenix, so Glenn isn’t inclined to drive his non-air conditioned, restored, classic Sting Ray. Once it cools down, he will put on some more miles, and then likely put the car up for sale.

So if the classic white & red with a Stinger hood with red stripes, mid-year Sting Ray convertible is your heart’s desire, you just might be able to fulfill your dreams with Glenn Palmer and Lance Mallow’s 1964 Corvette Sting Ray. Watch those Want Ads! – Scott

PS – Our story had LOTS of photos. The rest of the photos are below. Enjoy!

PSS – This story was first published in the November 2021 issue of Vette Vues Magazine. $29.95 for 12 issues mailed to your door!