“Some people say they restore their cars,” Daemon Butts said, “on this one, I say I resurrected it.”
That’s no exaggeration. What is now a visually stunning, high performance hot rod, chock full of the latest technology, started out as a worn out hunk that a lot of people probably would have bought for parts.
Check out the before and after pictures. When Daemon purchased the car three years ago, the body was “rough” (there’s an understatement), the frame was damaged, and there was basically no interior.
“Almost nothing was reusable,” he told me. “The brakes, suspension, and steering were totally gone.”
But Daemon had a vision. “I rebuilt it with upgraded components,” he said. “Instead of using the 1950s technology that the ‘64 Corvette had, I upgraded it to the 21st century.”
The basic components of the original 350 small block are still there, but it’s been bored out and now displaces 355 cubic inches. An Edelbrock Ram Air manifold is fed by a FiTech 600 EFI unit with the FiTech Fuel Command Center, plumbed with custom braided stainless steel fuel lines.
The camshaft was custom ground for Daemon and with the rebuilt small block produces a healthy 11:1 compression ratio. A GM HEI electronic ignition lights the mixture in the cylinders. An aluminum cross-flow radiator and electric fans keep everything running cool.
The exhaust exits out ceramic coated Hedman headers with 4-inch side pipes. Daemon had custom heat shields built that’s have hydro-dipped flame graphics on them with “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” skulls embedded in the flames.
A trip to the engine dyno showed that the 355 is producing a very tidy 419 horsepower. In a car the size and weight of Daemon’s Corvette, I said it must be pretty lively. “It is,” he replied. In fact, it’s lively enough that he has to be careful to not spin the rear wheels, even at highway speeds.
Daemon rows through the gears of a Tremec TKO-600 5-speed transmission. The Tremec kit was designed for a 1964 Corvette and bolted right in, even to the point that the shifter comes into the interior at the stock location. Once the trans was installed, Daemon took some measurements and Tremec shipped him the custom driveshaft to hook up to the positraction rear end with 3.55 gears, still mounted in the Corvette’s original independent rear suspension.
But that IRS, and the entire front suspension, have both been completely rebuilt with Ridetech components, including coil-overs and control arms. The Ridetech suspension provides excellent adjustability, along with some weight reduction.
With that much go power, Daemon needed some stopping power too, so he installed Wilwood disk brakes at all four corners. The brakes are activated by a Wilwood master cylinder with a hydro boost power brake booster. A Borgeson power steering box adds to the driving pleasure. The brakes and steering are also tied together with custom braided lines. Daemon says the car handles great and stops on a dime.
There are Vision 571 Sport Star wheels all around, 15×10 on the back and 15×8 up front, wearing Nitto P325/50 drag radials and BFGoodrich P235/60 T/A radials respectively.
The ‘Vette’s power, handling, and braking are the very definition of high performance, but Daemon also built this car for comfort. “I like the creature comforts of a newer car,” he said. And that goal was achieved in his rebuilt interior.
This is the first interior he’s installed, and Daemon hit it out of the park. He started with putting down a layer of sound and heat insulating matting and new carpeting, then added Corbeau A4 leather seats to “make sure I stick to the seats when I take curves.” The Corbeaus feature power lumbar support and are heated. Simpson 2” safety belts make sure Daemon really sticks to those seats.
But the list of modern creature comforts doesn’t stop there. Daemon’s also installed power windows, a tilt steering column, turn signal indicator side view mirrors, and a rear view mirror with a back-up camera, and temperature and compass displays. The Corvette has a complete set of Dakota Digital gauges, along with their GPS system that provides quarter-mile and 0-60 times and cruise control.
Vintage Air climate control and a complete AM/FM/USB/Bluetooth stereo system keep Daemon even more comfortable. The stereo sounds great, but he was quick to note, “my favorite tune in this car is the side pipes.”
You can tell from the before and after pictures that body work was no small matter for this project. In addition to fixing up the damage and smoothing out the fiberglass body, Daemon extended the rear fender flares to cover those Nitto 325s.
He kept the 3-inch L88 hood scoop the car came with because he said, “it makes the curves of the Corvette continue up the hood.” He also added a third tail light on each side, LED tail lights and front parking lights, and halogen headlights. In addition to the convertible top, Daemon has a removable vinyl hard top. The vinyl hard top was made available by Chevrolet only in 1967 on the C2s.
He was originally planning to paint the car silver or charcoal gray, but he saw a late model Camaro with its hyper blue metallic paint sitting in the sunshine and changed his mind. “I saw what that color did to the curves on that Camaro and I knew that was definitely the color this car needed.” As you can see, the results are spectacular.
Daemon started his build in September 2017, and set a goal of showing the car in the following spring. After several issues with body shops, he realized that the Corvette would not be ready in 2018. But promises are important to Daemon, and he kept his by taking the chassis out to the first car show in the Spring of 2018.
Daemon’s got $96,000 invested in his Corvette, with $20,000 coming from the initial purchase. “Some people would say that was a waste of money because there was so much that was unusable,” he told me, “but if you’re going to make a restomod, you’re not going to use much of the original anyway.”
With that investment you might think Daemon’s built himself a trailer queen – but you’d be wrong. “I drive it year-round,” he said, “and almost every weekend.” The McDade (Texas) car show where Daemon and I met was a 90 mile drive each way from his home.
Daemon had a vision and he executed it perfectly. He wanted a classic hot rod with as many modern upgrades as possible.
“It’s a close to driving a C7 as you can get,” he said, “but with the looks of a C2.”
That’s some really good hot rodding.
Photos by GHR and courtesy of Daemon Butts
Click here to see more pictures of Daemon’s Corvette.