1973 Chevrolet Corvette - Starter issues

I have a 1970’s classic car with a 350 SBC crate engine. Recently when the original stater went bad I replaced it with a “high speed” starter as starting the engine was always a problem. A neighbor of mine took the car out to show it to a friend who lived about 20 minutes away. Afer a short stay he tried to start the car. It cranked over but would not start. He turned the key to off and tried again. There was dead silence. He called me to say that the battery was dead, but I knew it wasn’t as it was a new battery. He asked me to pick him up but I told him that I ws in the middle of a task and could not leave for about 30 minutes. When I was preparing to pick him up he called and said that the car started right up and that he was driving back. Ever since them he car starts right up but if you run it for a while and turn off the engine, the car will crank once, not start and then any further attempts result dead silence. I have to wait 30-60 minutes for the car to cool off and then it will easily start. Could the starter, solenoid or ignition switch be overheating? As it stands now, the car is totally unreliable to drive on a practical basis.

My first guess is the starter is getting heat soaked from the exhaust, the armature is swelling up and not able to spin.


Thank you. I will look to purchase a heat shield for the starter.

You might also look into shims for the starter motor if applicable.

1 Like

I have no idea what a “high speed” starter is… but you might also try going back to the old-style starter you previously used.

I don’t mean the old original one, but a new one like that.

I have been in that situation… @It_s_Me is right on track… heat soak.

However, check your battery cables for corrosion - both ends! Positive and ground! And make sure there is a ground strap between the engine and frame.

thank you for the info.

HIgh speed starter probably refers to a an aftermarket gear reduction unit. Heat soak was a real problem back in the day and mainly due to the exhaust header being located so close to the starter motor.

They even make starter blankets to help prevent this and there’s also the shim issue mentioned by Barkydog. If you hear a slight, or more than slight, gear gnash sound when the starter engages odds are it needs a shim of some thickness between the starter and engine block. Shims are cheap and easy.

Back in the 70s a friend bought a brand new Z-28 and in the first year went through 3 starters and 2 flexplates; all under warranty. Apparently the local Chevy dealer never heard of shims…
After the last fix (?) he had enough and sold the car rather than deal with it anymore.

1 Like

If the starter is being jammed due to heat then the main battery cable should be getting hot really quick while trying to start the engine. Don’t try to continue starting if that is the case. If the cable isn’t getting at least warm to the touch then something else is causing the issue. Most likely the solenoid isn’t getting power from the ignition switch due to a safety switch issue.