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Published: 1/21/2023

Treasure State Corvette

Author: DAN HODGDON

Photos: LUCAS PRIAMO

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To some, Montana is known as "Big Sky Country," but the official nickname of the vast Western expanse is "The Treasure State." It's a nod to the rich variety of natural resources found in the area. In the tiny town of Belfry (pop. 304), Moores Garage turns out treasures of its own. Among them is a 1964 Corvette Sting Ray powered by a Chevrolet Performance LT4 crate engine.*

 

Moores Garage's Silver Blue 1964 Corvette features a Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System.

 

At the year-ending PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis, shop proprietors Rick and Casey Moore displayed the recently completed car in the Gandrud Chevrolet booth, adjacent to the main Chevrolet Performance display. The C2 Corvette offered attendees a glimpse of one of many crate engine* uses.

"They're awesome," Rick Moore said of the Bowtie's LT4 crate power plant offerings. "Tons of power, very drivable. To me, it was the right thing to do to this car."

The Corvette came from the organizer of a car show in Deadwood, South Dakota, and had only 30,000 original miles along with the original paint.

Moore planned to build a restomod and maintain that original paint while swapping in an LT1 crate engine.* However, the opportunity arose during the build to attend the SEMA Show and Moore decided to upgrade to Chevy's top-of-the-line LT4. Due to the supercharged engine's large displacement, Moore selected a hood from a 1965 Corvette for added clearance.

"We bought the other hood and my son-in-law, who paints cars now, said, ‘If I'm going to paint and blend the hood, I'll just paint the whole car,'" Moore explained.

 

The Corvette's Chevrolet Performance LT4 crate engine* makes 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque.

 

Today the mid-year Corvette features its original Silver Blue color, but with new paint that glistened under the lights of the Indiana Convention Center. The car's Budnik wheels and Nitto tires only added to the shine.

Under the hood, the LT4 crate engine is mated to a SuperMatic 4L75-E four-speed automatic transmission, one of dozens of factory-matched Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain Systems offered by Chevrolet Performance.

"I like the shift and I like the supercharger feel between the gears so that's why I like the 4L75," Moore said.

The powertrain is far from the only modern element on this Corvette. For many years, a large part of Moore's business was building or modifying frames for older vehicles, including Corvettes, classic Chevy trucks and Tri-Fives, with a C4 Corvette suspension added for more modern performance.

 

This mid-year Corvette features a C4 suspension.

 

He's since sold the company, RR Frames, to longtime colleague Dylan Perrault. However, there is still much collaboration between RR Frames and Moores Garage, where Rick Moore and his fabricator son, Ricky, restore classic vehicles.

"This is an original frame, and then we modify the frame to make the C4 stuff fit," Rick Moore explained of the setup on the Corvette. "On these cars that's the only way we can do it. The pickups that we build, they're all new frames, but these Corvettes are the original."

The 1964 Corvette represented a new challenge for Moore, as it was the first time he had ever built a car on top of the already completed frame and suspension.

"This is something new, now I can tell my customers how to build their car and what they need to do," he said.

 

The original seats were re-foamed by Kevin's Upholstery; which is located at Moores Garage.

 

Fitting the LT4 in the confines of the small 1964 Corvette engine bay was a learning experience, too. Moore was able to squeeze the engine into the car, but found it was necessary to cut the water pump off at the neck. Otherwise, although hood clearance is tight, no major modifications were required.

Moore also utilized a Drive Junky front accessory drive and American Autowire harness for the wiring. In addition, he installed a Be Cool radiator and Classic Auto Air air conditioning. A Rick's Tanks fuel tank designed to work with the LT4 fuel pump delivers fuel to the engine.

The blue interior features the original seats, but they were re-foamed by Kevin Stiles, whose Kevin's Upholstery shop is located at Moores Garage. The interior also sports brand-new Dakota Digital RTX gauges which look exactly like the ones that came with the car.

 

Casey Moore (left) and her husband Rick are the proprietors of Moores Garage.

 

Moores Garage has long been a family operation with Rick, Casey and their son, Ricky, all working at the shop. Meanwhile, Ricky's sister, Alex, and her husband, Jake Neibauer, run Jake's Collision and Paint, also located in Belfry. It was Jake who painted the Corvette. Jake and Alex have two young boys, Renner and Miles, who are budding automotive enthusiasts as well.

Among the other recent projects for Moores Garage were an LT4-powered 1967 Chevellle and an LS3*-swapped 1968 Pontiac Firebird. In addition, the shop also was responsible for one of the first LT4 builds in a 1957 Chevy. 

Rick Moore has always been a Chevy fan and says he prefers to work on Bowtie builds, but also jokes, "If you sand on anything long enough you'll fall in love with it."

That love is why Moores Garage keeps turning out treasures.

 

 

Be sure to keep watching The BLOCK for many more Chevrolet Performance-powered builds. Also check out "The Montana Barn Find" on YouTube, where Rick Moore and his friend Chris Quintiliani seek out pieces of lost automotive history.


*Because of their effect on a vehicle's emissions performance, these engines are intended exclusively for use in competition vehicles. These engines are designed and intended for use in vehicles operated exclusively for competition: in racing or organized competition on courses separate from public streets or highways. Installation or use of these engines on a vehicle operated on public streets or highways is likely to violate U.S., Canadian, state and provincial laws and regulations related to motor vehicle emissions.

 

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