Weekend Project – Dave Carnock’s ’73 Avanti II
One of the ironies of owning a successful custom car shop is the lack of time you’re typically able to devote to your own projects. After long hours working on customer vehicles, it can be difficult to find quality time to turn wrenches on anything else.
Sometimes, though, the right car comes along and provides the motivation you need to invest those extra hours. That was the case for Dave Carnock when he found this ’73 Avanti II.
“This was a bucket-list car for me,” Dave says. “A buddy called me and had seen it on Craigslist. I owned it two hours later.”
Despite being very rough, Dave says the Avanti was also a tonic following long weeks at his shop, Carnock Creations. “This car was my weekend therapy at home,” he says. “It was built on Saturdays and Sundays as time allowed.”
Dave started by building a custom frame with an Art Morrison front suspension, a four-bar setup locating the 9-inch rearend, QA1 coil-overs, and Wilwood disc brakes. Team III wheels add a vintage look with a bit of modern flair thanks to the 17×7- and 18×9-inch sizes.
The desire for reliable modern power led Dave to install a 480hp LS3 crate engine from Chevrolet Performance, which was dressed up with custom valve covers and a Holley accessory drive system. Dave built his own custom exhaust system and installed a 4L70E overdrive transmission for easy freeway cruising.
The fiberglass body required plenty of repair and refining to get it to a point where it would look good with a black finish. Dave also back-dated it by installing ’63-style round headlights, and he moved and resized the front wheel openings to better fit the wheels and the lowered stance. Following many hours of prep and block sanding, the body was eventually rolled into the paint booth at Carnock Creations to receive its formal black House of Kolor finish.
Bright turquoise vinyl upholstery over modified stock bucket seats provides a nice contrast to the car’s black exterior, while also giving it just the right amount of ’60s flair. Dave did the upholstery work with the help of Chuck Bauer, his longtime friend and first boss in the hot rod industry. He also raised the console and armrests for better driver comfort and added Vintage Air climate controls and Dakota Digital gauges in the dash.
Considering that it was a part-time project done mostly on weekends – not to mention the difficulty in finding vintage Avanti II parts – the car’s six-year build time is pretty impressive. Equally striking is the finished result, which blends sporty ’60s style, modern performance, and the fine craftsmanship you’d expect from a pro’s personal project.
Photos by John Jackson