Street Machine of the Year 1993; back-to-back Summernats Top Judged Street Machine awards; two-time Street Machine cover car – yep, Frank Rejtano’s incredible 1964 Corvette Stingray has been there and done it all. In the early 90s, street machining royalty like Owen Webb and Ron Barclay declared Frank’s ’Vette the best build they’d ever seen – and they oughta know.
Happily, this now 30-year-old build is still in Frank’s care and as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as ever, so we thought it was high time to catch up with him about the history of his legendary Corvette.
First published in the December 2023 issue of Street Machine
The car still looks fantastic! What’s your secret, Frank?
I’m pretty much retired now, so I have plenty of time to look after it. Because I don’t like using car covers, I’ve gone to a lot of trouble to keep the garage dust free, which is a big help. And being right on the water [in Hervey Bay, Queensland], I also keep a container of moisture-absorbing crystals in each car, along with another big tub of the stuff in the garage itself.
Ever contemplated selling it?
No! It’s my baby. My current cars are like my children to me. Even STING [Frank’s earlier show car, a trophy-winning 1972 Stingray] is still registered in my name; I just wanted to give it to my son David for his 50th. You’ve got to enjoy life as much as you can; I enjoy my cars too much to sell them.
How long did you show the Corvette for?
Around three years. [My wife] Robyn and I did a lot of shows. We took it everywhere – across to Perth twice, down to Melbourne a couple of times, plus Adelaide and up to Brisbane. It won every show it went to, pretty much the maximum number of trophies every time.
Which, as you can imagine, upset a few people at the time. But we also made loads of friends; Robyn and I really enjoyed travelling around. I’ve really got to thank her for putting up with all my car stuff for so many years. Especially when we were building the ’64 – that was two years of mayhem.
What are some of your fondest memories about the car from back then?
Our first Summernats – Summernats 7 in 1993. We won Top Judged and six or seven trophies all up. It won Top Engine Bay, Top Undercarriage/Driveline, Top Engineered, Top Coupe and Street Machine’s Top 10! About the only trophy it didn’t win was Top Interior. We came back the next year and won Top Judged again, which was incredible.
Why a ’64?
I wanted to do something very different. Originally it was going to be a resto. But after the success of STING, I wanted to build an even better Summernats car. Everything was smoothed off – the engine bay, the underside, the chassis, brakes, suspension, engine, gearbox and diff!
I spent countless hours deburring and smoothing it all. John Abbott came over four days a week for two straight years to finish all the fibreglass bodywork. I’ll never forget it; I itched the whole two years.
I recall that you had to deburr the engine block twice?
Yeah. There were a lot of hours in the first block before it went to the engine builder. Turned out to be a 305 block, not a 350. Had to order a new block and do all that work all over again!
How many kays have you put on it?
Maybe around 5000 or so. We deliberately built it with no power steering, no air conditioning and no side mirrors, so it’s a bit hard to drive. When we initially moved from Sydney up to Lake Macquarie, I drove it back down to Sydney a few times. Up here in Hervey Bay, I really like taking it for a run down the local esplanade. We did a 4000km round trip to the Corvette Nationals in Ballarat earlier this year in my C8. I’m 74, and the trip was easy in that car; that’s why I don’t drive the ’64 so much these days.
Have you updated or changed it much over the years?
Having finished the car 30 years ago, the lining of the braided fuel lines [located inside the chassis rail] perished, sending debris through the whole system. The whole lot had to be cleaned out and new lines installed, along with a new set of injectors, which were very hard to source.
The front brakes have been upgraded to Wilwoods, I changed the intake runners, and swapped the 4.11 diff gears for 3.55s. Other than that, it’s still the same as it was in ’94, and it all still works!
You must love your Corvettes; you’ve had a few over the years.
JAFFA, a red ’69, was my first ’Vette; it was featured in Street & Strip magazine. This was followed by STING and the ’64. I did have a 2000 convertible, which I sold when I got the C8. So yeah, I love my Corvettes.
1964 CORVETTE STINGRAY
|TPI 350ci small-block Chev
|Wilwood discs with four-piston calipers (f), Corvette discs with four-piston calipers (r)
|Boyd Coddington billet; 17×8 (f), 17×9.5 (r)
|235/45R17 (f), 255/45R17 (r)