Reilly Auto Repair | Corvette Specialists, Daytona Beach, Florida

After three unsuccessful attempts to have Corvette Masters of Maitland, Florida work on my '76, I decided I had wasted enough time and effort trying to get them to take my money. And after the third canceled appointment, I decided to give Reilly Auto Repair in Daytona Beach a try.

I talked on the phone with Paul Jr. who scheduled an appointment for me to bring the car the very next day and have his dad take a look at it.

I arrived at Reilly Auto early the next morning and Paul Sr. gave my car a thorough inspection, which included a test drive with me in the passenger seat, in order to determine what needed attention.

He then gave me a tour of the facilities and assured me my car would be kept indoors while under their care.

And he also promised to have an estimate for me the next day, which they did, and I made an appointment to bring my car on April 10th.

Monday, April 10, 2017

About two hours after dropping off my Vette on the scheduled day, I received a phone call from Paul Sr. to inform me that they had determined that the oil leak was due to the intake manifold end seal gaskets.

Edelbrock recommends a 1/4" bead of RTV High-Temperature silicone to be used on each seal surface instead of gaskets. It is obvious that the guys at Sunrise Automotive were not aware of that.

The next day I received a call from Reilly Auto Repair for me to stop by the next morning to discuss a few items with Paul Sr. The first thought, that came to mind was, "Oh boy. What now!"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

As I stood by my Vette at the shop the next morning, Paul explained that he wanted to discuss a couple of issues that he thought were significant enough for me to see and make a decision after seeing them in person.

The first one was the low quality of the replacement outside door handle. Overall, it looked fine, but the handle itself showed that the spring was failing to do its job and therefore looked like a door handle with a worn or broken spring, even though it was a brand new replacement part... from China!

I am glad Paul felt that I should see the door handle before they went ahead and reassembled the door as I told him to go ahead and use the original handle, even though the chrome is pitted and it shows its age. But in spite of that, it looks better than this cheap reproduction part.

The other issue was with the single-DIN radio faceplate bezel, which basically broke. I had made that piece out of thin plastic so it was no surprise that it failed when they removed the radio. So I ordered one I found from an eBay seller and made arrangements for it to be delivered directly to the shop on Monday.

We then looked at where the oil leak was originating from, and you could actually see where the gasket was pushed out. Of course, that gap allowed for enough oil to make a mess of things under the car. And the transmission also showed a spot where it was leaking from. So much for it being checked by a transmission "expert" in DeLand.

Paul and his team were also in the process of taking apart the steering column in order to address the turn signal canceling cam issue I was experiencing, and they had part of the dashboard disassembled in order to make sure everything was tight and rattle-free, as well as install the new dash speakers and gauge bulbs.

Paul mentioned that my car may need to be there for about ten days, which is totally fine with me, as I want them to have plenty of time to do all repairs properly. And from the level of attention to detail that they've shown, I am glad my Corvette is there.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Yesterday, Paul, Jr. called me to let me know the problem with the turn signal switch canceling cam was due to a faulty switch. I have to take full responsibility for that one since I opted to go with a cheaper unit I found online that fit well in the column assembly but was intended for a different vehicle.

The solution? Order the correct turn signal switch from Eckler's for the 1978 column I am using. This is what happens every time I try to save a few bucks! Hopefully, the new switch will operate properly so I won't look like a dumbass driving down the highway with the left blinker on.

He also mentioned they were getting the intake manifold and block ready to ensure a leak-free seal.

I asked Paul, Jr. to send me a few pics and here they are.

He also mentioned that the mechanic who removed the clutch and brake pedal assembly noticed it had a crack, which most likely was causing the rattling noise since the original bushings looked okay. He welded the assembly which should solve that issue and they will use the new bushings to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Yesterday I received a call from Paul, Jr. since they were concerned about the replacement radio trim plate I had ordered, since it was a bit different from the one I had fabricated, and they felt it would not fit correctly.
So I drove out there and, after explaining to him and the mechanic how the trim plate can be modified to accept a single DIN radio, they realized it would work just fine and that took care of that particular issue.

They also brought up to my attention a potential issue with lowering the rear of the car which could bring the ends of the leaf spring in contact with the tires, which is something you do not want for obvious reasons.

So today I gave Paul, Sr. a call and stopped again by the shop to discuss those issues directly with him.

He first told me they shouldn't have called me about the radio trim plate issue since it was absurd for them to have me come out for something that they should've been able to figure out themselves.

He also said that before passing judgment about potential issues about lowering the rear of the car, the Corvette would need to be sitting on its wheels, under its own weight, and on a level surface.

Only at that point, he would be able to see if the leaf spring ends would need to be trimmed a bit for clearance's sake.

At this point, all we're waiting for is the turn signal switch which would allow them to finish the steering column so they can finish the few remaining items.

He also showed me how they had adjusted the doors and really eliminated most of the rattling noises coming from them, which should make my Stingray that much more pleasant to use. It's a shame to have a nice car that makes all sorts of rattling noises when you do something as basic as closing a door.

They also had installed the new shifter as well as reassembled the dashboard, so my car is getting close to being done.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Since I swapped the steering column a while back and used a 1978 unit for ergonomic reasons, as well as to be able to use a different steering wheel, the turn signal switch connector differed a bit from the 1976 piece. So, in order to make the swap work, I replaced the '78 connector with the one from the '76 column.

No issues there, but I failed to mention that small detail to Paul, Sr. at Reilly Automotive and this morning I received a call since to let me know that the replacement switch would not work since it would not plug into the car's harmonica connector.

I told him that I was aware of the reason why and, once I explained it, Paul, Sr. said that they would replace the connector and that should take care of that problem.

Other than that, it seems they are making excellent progress with my car and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be ready by mid-next week.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paul, Sr. called me yesterday for me to stop by the shop in order to take my Corvette out for a long shakedown test drive. This way I would avoid having to bring it back at a future date if anything was amiss.

It was a great idea since the first thing I noticed was an inop water temperature gauge. Most likely an easy fix, and I also noticed a couple of rattles that they will address in the next couple of days.

But onto the good stuff.

First, the stance of my Vette was greatly improved by dropping the rear of the car about an inch. It should settle a bit in the next few weeks but Paul, Sr. set it as close to ideal as possible, while still maintaining drivability, which is something I definitely wanted.

Second, the doors operate and feel like those of a new car. Everything is tight and the noise and rattles are gone. And while there are limits as to how much anyone can do to quiet down these doors, the guys at Reilly Automotive did an excellent job.

Third, as I started the car, the cold idle was operational for the first time since I had the carb rebuilt and, after a minute or so of fast idling, a flick of the gas pedal brought the idle down to around 700 RPM. Oh, and Paul and his team also adjusted the e-brake shoes, so the parking brake operates beautifully now.

The air conditioner was operational again, but they still have to find out where the leak is coming from. They added a die in order to locate the problem area which hopefully they will be able to seal properly. In addition to that, they will also do an alignment that should allow them to center the steering wheel which slants to the left a bit.

The car now shifts smoothly, and there are no more rattles from either the shifter or the clutch pedal, and the engine runs a lot smoother with the proper tune-up and a leak-free intake manifold.

I did not check the brake lights, but Paul, Sr. tells me all four are now operational, and the turn signal switch cancels as it should.

One last detail worth mentioning is that the differential additive Paul, Sr. recommended took care of the annoying rear-end noises I could hear every time I stopped and made a left- or right-hand turn. It's hard to believe that something as simple as that could have such a great impact but goes to show you the benefits of working with an experienced Corvette mechanic.

Friday, April 28, 2017

As promised, my car was ready and waiting for me when I arrived.

Unfortunately, they were unable to locate the a/c leak without taking the blower fan cover off, which would've made a mess of things in the engine bay, so since it was working fine, I decided to take it as is in order to see what happens. Of course, the poorly-designed blower cage can only move so much cold air to be effective when outside temperatures reach over 90 degrees.

The car performed flawlessly on the 24-mile drive back home to Orange City and, once it was back in my garage, I allowed the engine to cool down so I could give it a complete detail for a car show on Sunday.

Above: Ready for Sunday's car show.

Above: Longer leaf spring bolts lower the rear of the car.

Above: Just the right stance.

Above: New radio adapter trim plate fits perfectly.

The car show was great in spite of the muggy Florida weather, and my car performed perfectly to and from the event. The only detail I noticed was a pesky rattle under the dash that, in spite of the efforts of the guys at Reilly Auto, was still present, so maybe I'll have them look at it again in the future.

The tune-up got rid of the strong fuel smell while driving and—especially—in the garage, and the annoying grinding noise coming from the differential is gone for good, thanks to the additive they used.

Without going into exact figures, I spent quite a bit of coin to get my long list of wants and car problems taken care of, but the folks at Reilly Auto Repair in Daytona Beach have definitively earned my business. As a matter of fact, I've already recommended their services to a good friend of mine, and I am happy to be able to do so with complete confidence.

For more information contact Paul, Sr. at:

Reilly Auto Repair
817 Swift Street
Daytona Beach, FL 32114  [ map ]

Phone 386-254-8660 

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