We recently asked you to send us some of your car stories and we had no more than posted our article and Dave Semel responded with this story of building his outstanding 1958 Corvette Restomod.
Story by Dave Semel
This Corvette sat in a field in Alabama for 20 plus years. During that time the frame rusted and a new front clip needed to be added. It was a perfect candidate for a restomod project since plenty of fiberglass work was needed. Considerable fiberglass work was needed in order to get an original 1958 Corvette body to fit on a modern chassis. The original Corvette was owned by the guy who 25 years ago traded a sewing machine for the Vette. He later sold it to his nephew who left it in a field for 20 years. I was looking for a 1958 Corvette for a project and he had the perfect candidate.
I utilized a 2000 C5 Corvette donor car for the chassis, had a custom frame built to accept all the C5 front and rear suspension. The idea was to make the Vette look like a sleeper; one that looked like an original. With the hood down people would just think that I changed the color and put on the new ZO6 wheels. My idea was to keep the interior looking much like the original but adding the modern conveniences that are found in newer Vettes but still look like the original.
I also have exhaust coming out like new Corvette instead of through bumpers. The holes in bumpers now have brake lights that also work as indicators. The original gauges were also utilized with a fabricated box to work with cable and convert to electric for the new LS2 engine. The Vette is named 58REDUX (meaning the remaking of the 58 Corvette- if GM had all this technology then this is how they would have built it).
Here’s my experience with my 1958 Corvette “Restomod” named 58REDUX
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 ZO6 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.
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.
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.
Instead of using the original frame attached to the existing Corvette body, a custom frame was fabricated.
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.
Finally, it’s time to put everything back together for the Restomod you’ have 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!
Of course you’ll also need to decide what you’re looking for with the interior. 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. I decided to have Tony Stanz and Mike Hacker of Back-In-Time in Bethlehem, PA complete several detail related items on my restomod.
I’m very happy that I decided to build a Restomod. My 53 year old car has the looks of an 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.
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.