Written by Barbara Toombs
It’s a common topic at any collector car gathering these days, and one that often generates some passionate discussion: Which is better, an original model or a Resto-Mod? Usually enthusiasts have to make that decision when deciding on their next collectible purchase.
Not so at the 2021 Scottsdale Auction, where two beautifully restored 1959 Chevrolet Corvette convertibles will be sold with No Reserve as a pair – one (Lot #1419) a stunning custom full of 21st-century trappings, and the other (Lot #1419.1) a multiple-award-winning original. At first glance, you may not be able to tell them apart, as both are white convertibles with silver coves and red interiors, and have a similar stance and overall look.
There’s an interesting story behind that. The consignor, Bob, a degreed mechanical engineer who spent his entire working life as a manufacturing executive, has built many race cars and engines during his career while competing on a national level. While he had worked on cars “his whole life,” he found he still coveted something from his youth.
When he was in college back in 1959, his neighbor in the dorm had a brand-new 1959 Corvette V8 with a 4-speed and – you guessed it – was all white with silver coves and a red interior. “I used to tune it up for him when he was going to drag races,” Bob recalled.
Having never owned a Corvette, in 2010 Bob decided the time was ripe to rectify that. He searched for the perfect match to that car from his college days, finally found it in Couer d’ALene, Idaho, where he purchased it from a gentleman who had owned the Corvette since 1971. “At that point I hadn’t decided whether to do a stock car or go the Resto-Mod route,” said Bob. He decided to have an NCRS judge and an expert Corvette restorer weigh in on the matter. “They convinced me it would be criminal to do anything other than restore the car back to original,” Bob remembers, “because it had so many original parts and was in such good condition.”
So that’s just what he did, over a two-year period, during which time he took more than 450 photographs documenting every step of the ground-up restoration. The car was completely disassembled, with all fasteners sent out for replating, all chrome components rechromed and stainless parts polished. The 283/230hp 8-cylinder engine was sent out for machining and was reassembled. The frame and all black steel parts were powder-coated in satin black for a lasting restoration. The bodywork was completed utilizing PPG DDL Acrylic Lacquer for top-coating (as originally used in 1959); the paint was carefully cut and buffed to replicate the original finish, showing some degree of orange peel.
When all was complete, Bob took the Corvette to its first NCRS judging event and scored 97.6, which he was told “is kind of unheard of for the first time around.” But that wasn’t enough. In 2014, Bob took the ’Vette to the NCRS Nationals in Kansas City, where the car received the coveted Duntov Mark of Excellence award with a final score of 98.6. The pristine Corvette also has two Top Flight Awards and a Performance Verification Award to its name.
Back home in Oregon, Bob started thinking about his next project. “I got this idea of building a car exactly like the original, but a Resto-Mod,” he said. Another two-year project ensued.
The build began with a desire to use a 1959 Corvette that was not practical to restore for NCRS judging, so a donor car was located. The reason it looks stock at first glance is that original vintage parts were used wherever possible, along with some late-model Corvette components.
It’s got all the bells and whistles you’d ever want in a daily driver, including a 5.7-liter V8 LS6 Corvette engine, a TREMEC TKO 600 5-speed manual transmission, and a Strange differential with 4.11 gears, posi-traction and an aluminum driveshaft. The car rides on an Art Morrison chassis and features power rack & pinion steering, as well as disc brakes and a custom exhaust system.
A set of Billet Specialties wheels were selected because of their likeness to late-model Z06 wheels. The Al Knoch interior features a set of AOK seats in a ’59 vinyl pattern, as well as Dakota Digital gauges.
“‘No expense spared’ belies these cars,” said Bob. “You can’t pay for the passion and the dedication to detail these cars represent. I poured my heart and soul into this project; my goal was perfection.”
For Bob, the joy comes from the projects he does, often with his sons and even grandsons working along with him. So, to him, the perfect ending to his perfect project would be a successful sendoff at Barrett-Jackson, where one lucky bidder will take home this incredible pair of Corvettes – one for show, and one for go.
For up-to-date information on these and all the vehicles headed to the 2021 Scottsdale Auction, click HERE.