1959 Chevy Corvette
TPI injected small block, T5 5 speed manual, disc brake front, electronic power steering and posi traction rear end!
This car was found in South Australia as a part-completed project back after being imported back in 2005. What it consisted of was a chassis, most of the bodywork and a few other items including a rebuilt original posi-traction differential that had already been powder-coated… from there it underwent a total restoration.
Purchased without and engine or gearbox left the owner a few different ways to go. The options were a stock or go fun and the decision was made to build a Corvette that looked pretty stock but with some subtle performance mods.
The owner/builder is a toolmaker by trade so he was very involved in this build – “Being a toolmaker teaches you patience, I never felt the need to rush a restoration”. This one took near enough to eight years to build from go to wo.
His first task was to get the body together and he bought another trailerload of parts including some doors. The trick with these fiberglass bodies is that nothing really fits at first – particularly the doors. You need to spend some time finessing them into shape. Fortunately this car came with a new front clip, which made the process easier. It’s worth doing properly as sometimes you’ll come across restored Corvettes that have the bodies starting to crack after a few years and that all comes down to the prep work.
With the bodywork done, it was passed on to a spray painter. One of many decisions made was to left off the big badge or lozenge off the front clip and it looks great without it.
There was no roof with the car, so he imported a soft-top and a used hardtop and cost a small fortune even though it was very second-hand. We’re talking a few thousand, plus the cost of shipping, which is substantial as they’re a big item. Don’t expect a whole lot of change out of $10k if you had to repeat the process.
The next challenge was to source a drive line and some help was recruited as he wanted it to be a ‘tuned port’ (injected) generation engine with a manual trans. In the end he purchased a front cut of a 1988 Camaro with a T5 five-speed gearbox. The five-speed checked out fine but the engine got a rebuild as a precaution.
Generally, the mechanicals were straight-forward as far as retro fitting a drive line goes but the real headache turned out to be the electronics. Matching up a relatively modern engine to an old car had some unique challenges and more specialist help was required. Often getting electronic parts to talk to mechanical units take a bit know how.
The engine went in fairly easily with custom mounts for the gearbox and shortening the tailshaft. Surprisingly, the shifter slipped straight in to the right location, despite the totally different set-up… from there an exhaust could be made with a set of unique exhaust tips.
The dash refit took a bit of work and the seat trim was done to be more comfortable and sportier. While this era of car doesn’t need seat belts the owner fitted a nice snug set of harnesses as opposed to an over the shoulder belt required at the time. Getting the harnesses in was complicated by the fact the tops of the seats are a snug fit under the rear deck, so there’s no real clearance. A little head-scratching and he had made-up stainless-steel loop to thread the belts through the tops of the seat backs.
At the time of the build all the suspension was replaced, which gives it a nice tight feel and a disc brake conversion was done to the front of the car with an adjustable brake bias you can adjust to your own feel.
Once all together the shake-down run revealed he had a quick car on his hands, but whilst teething there was a frustrating issue where it would suddenly starve of fuel. This was fixed with a one litre stainless surge tank with a second Holley fuel pump and ended up with a car that ran 218hp at the wheels on the dyno, which is plenty for a something that weighs around 1200 kilos. Once it was all dialed in and on the road it was run up to event in Queensland and won its first trophy…
Located at SEVEN82MOTORS Classic’s, Lowriders & Muscle cars, specializing in Australian & American car sales and available to view in the showroom at 132 Spencer Road, Nerang on the Gold Coast, Queensland.
To Buy, Sell or Consign, please call us on 0755 966 566 or 0416407540 with inquires.
PLEASE NOTE: This vehicle is being sold on consignment, consignment vehicles are sold as is without registration unless otherwise stated and there is no cooling off period or warranty expressed written or implied by the consignee.