Corvette Restomod – Corvette Performance and Style

Restomod Corvette “58REDUX”

Corvette Restomod, classic car restoration, corvette restorationStory by Dave Semel

Restomod, protouring, modified,” whatever the terminology used, I say it’s the best of both worlds!

There’s nothing like the lines of a classic muscle car. They have the ability to turn heads of young and old alike. Many classic cars catch the attention of the young generation that weren’t even alive when 409 Impalas and Boss 429 Mustangs tore up the street as new cars. In others, they spark something that takes them back to a different, often better time. However, those with experience driving classic muscle cars know they’re great in a straight line, but if you need to turn or stop watch out!

So what do custom car guys do? How about a Restomod?

Restomod Definition:
Classic American cars that have been restored using modern components to enhance their performance, safety, comfort and beauty. In short: restored old bodies modified using new technology: “restomod”. (Here’s an example of a 1959 Cadillac Restomod I called a “Custom Restoration”)

The possibilities are endless. Imagination, technology and of course a fair amount of money can produce one of these beauties. The great thing is, you can do as much or as little as you desire to truly make a one-of-a-kind ride that’s truly “MY RIDE IS ME”.

classic corvette, corvette restoration, Restomod CorvetteHere’s my experience with my 1958 Corvette “Restomod” named 58REDUX – “58 Re-do”. Thanks to my friend Natalie Cake… for the name idea.

I’ve always been a Corvette fan since I was very young. I knew some day I would own one of America’s Sports Car. When I started looking at purchasing one I was having a problem deciding if I should get a new Z06 or… should I go for a 1958 Corvette. The classic lines of the ‘58 Corvette kept sticking in my head. Then, when I first saw a restomod over 4 years ago I knew I was going to do something like that.

If you’re going to get involved with doing a restomod, you really need to plan out what you want to accomplish in the finished product. Determine if you’ll be able to do the work yourself or will you need someone to help? After researching this idea, I decided I wanted my ‘58 restomod Corvette to look like a sleeper… With the hood down, most people might say, “I think he only changed the wheels and the paint color”.

Jerry Smith owner, Rusty Smith, Daniel Meredith and Toby Smith of Southern Street Rods and Corvettes in Ft Pierce, FL was the company I worked with since they were willing to incorporate some of my ideas into the build. They found a very rough 1958 Corvette body that lay dormant in an Alabama field for 20 plus years. Needless to say, this Corvette needed some major work. That’s a perfect candidate for a restomod project!

corvette restoration, bodywork, corvette body repairRestomod Corvette, corvette fiberglass body repair

As you can see they needed to put a new front clip onto the body. In order to get a newer Corvette chassis to fit the body, many cuts to the fiberglass had to be done and hours of fiberglass repair were needed. Jonny Cano owner of SMC Innovations Inc. took on this daunting task.

1958 Corvette, corvette frome, corvette restortationmodern corvette chassis, corvette custom chassisInstead of using the original frame attached to the existing Corvette body, a custom frame was fabricated.

This is the stage of a restomod project when you need to consider what you want in a chassis. There are many options available, just as there are choices in custom frames. I decided I really wanted everything Corvette, so I opted to use a donor 2000 Corvette chassis with QA1 coilovers on all four corners. We then changed the engine out to a LS2 with BBK headers and SS custom exhaust.

The possibilities are endless at this point! Based on your budget and imagination, you can plan a complete chassis that’s a “one of a kind.” The engineering that goes into the development of mating the old and the new is amazing. Make sure you have an expert on hand (or at least a buddy who thinks he is!) to make sure everything works on the finished product.

Once the chassis is done, it’s time to decide what type of ride you’re looking to get in the end. Driver, show car or something in between, this will again determine the amount of time, money and expertise needed in the body. In doing my restomod, I decided I wanted to have a corvette that could be driven for fun but that had the looks of a show car. In other words, I couldn’t have a trailer queen. Norm Church, an independent contractor, completed numerous hours of body work as well as fitting all the chrome on my Corvette before he painted it.

corvette restoration, custom corvette, Corvette restomod

Finally, it’s time to put everything back together for the Restomod you’ve been planning all along. Even with all the plans, you need to stay flexible and not get easily discouraged. It always happens that some things may not work out or you need to fabricate pieces to get the end result you’re looking for. Try not to change the plan here… you’ll regret it since it will cost you much more than just time!

1958 Corvette, corvette restoration, restomod corvette

Of course you’ll also need to decide what you’re looking for with the interior. There are many options at this point as well. Working with Phil Martin, an independent upholstery guy, I decided to keep the look of a 1958 Corvette. The only difference is that I chose to go with a two tone white and blue leather instead of one color vinyl. I opted to have dark blue modern carpet as well as AC, power windows, door locks and am/fm radio that looked like the original radio but also incorporated a 12 CD player. Remember the possibilities are numerous here, so plan this part out and have fun with it!

Then one day it’s complete!!! Or is it?

After having my Corvette completed for a few months, I decided there were a few things I wanted changed or completed in more detail so that the Corvette could truly compete with some of the best cars out there. With restomods there are always things you may want to change or make better as you experience your ride. Again, your best bet is to decide how far you’re willing to go to complete these items since you already have a completely painted car. I decided to have Tony Stanz and Mike Hacker of Back-In-Time in Bethlehem, PA complete several detail related items on my restomod. Tony and Mike have completed the detail work to take my Corvette to the next level.

I’m very happy that I decided to build a Restomod. My 53 year old car has the looks of old muscle car with the technology and performance of a brand new Corvette. The drivability is just amazing and makes it a joy to take 58REDUX out on the road. Now that Tony and Mike from Back-In-Time have added their touch in fixing and bringing out the detail I can say that I feel my Restomod is close to being complete. (There are always changes that can be done over time…)

If I decided to do something like this again I think I would start out with a car that was not such a basket case.

Would love to discuss my build or take the opportunity to discuss and see other restomods that are out there. (Here’s my garage at Add me to your crew!)
Building a one off auto that is truly- THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

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