It’s not often that a crime such as vandalism can turn out to be a plus, but Marc Fields of Covina, California—the owner of this 1960 Corvette—found a way to turn the situation around for the better.
Marc’s history with the car goes back to 2004 when he purchased it from a couple in Coto De Caza, California. He had seen the Vette advertised in the local newspaper classifieds and had to have it. “I knew that the asking price was a great deal if the car was as clean as specified,” Marc recalls. He was the first to call and was told by the owner’s wife that he could come see the car when her husband got home from work at 4:00 p.m. He arrived right on time and, “To my delight,” says Marc, “the car was everything it had been portrayed to be.”
It was a nice, clean driver: red with white coves, a four-speed transmission and a non-numbers matching 327ci engine. He purchased the car on the spot with the intent to tinker with it here and there but no plans other than to simply enjoy the car for what it was.
He used the car as a weekend cruiser and even took it for a longer trip up the coast to Paso Robles, California, but after a few years realized the car needed some upgrades to give it more driveability. In 2008, it was time for an engine swap to replace the tired 327. Marc commissioned his good friend Andy Bergsma for the job and before long the “engine swap” turned into installing a dressed-up 350ci engine, Muncie four-speed, A/C, power steering, power disc brakes, stereo and new soft top. Whoops!
So where does the whole vandalism thing come in? Well, on Thanksgiving Day 2009, Marc went to the warehouse where his 1960 Corvette was stored to take it out for a drive but when he got there he discovered that the facility had been broken into. Worse, his newly refurbished Vette suffered severe damage to the body after the trunk was broken into and his stereo was stolen.
“It was then that a choice had to be made; either repair the car back to its former condition or take it to the next level,” Marc remembers. A long time was spent discussing possibilities but in the end the decision was made that it had to be done right. With Andy on board again, the process began of taking the unfortunate situation and making the most of it.
Andy, not a builder by trade, did almost all of the work on Marc’s car on his own in a little shop behind his house, working on it whenever time allowed. He left no stone unturned, starting with the chassis, which underwent extensive modification. Andy notched the frame in various areas to clear the power steering pump, the body and the steering shaft. He also welded in all new mounts for the engine, transmission and rearend, in addition to modifying the crossmember for easier removal of the transmission. Finally, he enlarged the openings in the frame crossmember to accommodate larger exhaust tubing then sprayed the entire frame in satin Imron paint.
Moving outward from the frame, Marc chose Jim Meyer Racing Products double A-arms up front and four-link in the rear with QA1 adjustable coilovers at all four corners. A narrowed Ford 9-inch from John’s Industries lives in the rear, complete with a limited-slip unit and 3.50:1 gear ratio. Four-wheel disc brakes from CPP were chosen to bring the Vette down from speed with 13-inch rotors in the front and 12-inch rotors in the rear. Completing the modern brake upgrade were custom-fabricated stainless steel brake lines and an adjustable proportioning valve with an electric power brake unit from ABS Power Brakes.
As for power, Andy installed a Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise 430-horse LS3 engine and 4L65E automatic overdrive transmission that came complete with all the necessary computers and controllers. Handling the accessories is an LS serpentine pulley system from Eddie Motorsports. Rick’s Tanks supplied the stainless steel fuel tank with a built-in electric fuel pump. To keep engine temperatures under control, Andy installed a crossflow aluminum radiator and electric cooling fan from Mattson’s Custom Radiator. Power is sent to the rear via a custom-built aluminum driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline in Ontario, California.
Andy also took care of fabricating a custom exhaust system comprised of stainless steel headers and 2 1/2-inch stainless steel piping, with an X-pipe, that exits through stock rear bumper locations. They chose polished and chambered turbo mufflers from Stainless Works to bring down the decibels just a tad before exiting the custom oval exhaust tips.
An amazing amount of work went into making Marc’s Corvette look as good as it would now perform. Some key touches include the removal of the cowl vent, rear antenna and reflectors along with smoothing the firewall and fabricating custom front inner fenderwells all done by Andy. The rear inner wheelwells were kept unmodified to accommodate the convertible soft top and the original hardtop was completely restored to preserve the level versatility offered from the factory.
The paint is also a work of art in and of itself with over a half-dozen coats in total starting with an epoxy primer and a bright-white basecoat to enhance the final color. Next, Andy applied House of Kolor Pearl White in the coves and Red for the rest of the car all covered in multiple layers of House of Kolor clearcoat. To make this rich paintjob really pop, Andy color-sanded and buffed the whole body. All of the chrome trim and bumpers were replated and polished by Kustom Bumpers in Hesperia, California.
The wheels Marc chose complement the look of the car well. He went for Bandits by Raceline Wheels in a staggered stance measuring 18x7 in the front and 19x7.25 in the rear. Pirelli P Zero Neros can be found at all four corners with 225/45R18s up front and 245/45R19s in the back.
Another standout detail you might not notice initially is the rear Corvette emblem. Andy converted the badge into a third brake light that lights up red when the brakes are applied and white when the transmission is shifted into Reverse.
Inside the cabin Andy’s handiwork continues to impress—the combination of classic style and modern amenities make the interior of this Corvette an enjoyable place to be. Dakota Digital analog gauges give the dash a clean appearance while providing Marc all the information he needs. A Bluetooth, GPS navigation and Sirius XM capable Pioneer head unit feeds two speakers in the kick panels, one in the dash and a subwoofer in the trunk all powered by two amplifiers. The modern conveniences continue thanks to the ididit steering column with four-way flashers and cruise control from Dakota Digital. In addition, a Raingear multispeed windshield wiper controller is hidden under the dash. Wrapping up the interior tech are power windows from Specialty Power Windows and a Lokar shifter with a Dakota Digital shift indicator.
The only part of the car Andy didn’t touch was the upholstery, which was sent off to Elegance Auto Interiors in Upland, California, where they used red Italian leather with grey accents throughout. Starting from the floors up, grey carpeting was laid over heat and sound barrier both in the cabin and trunk. The seats were stripped down to bare metal, sandblasted and then reshaped seat foams were covered in the red leather. Custom door cards and center console were installed to match, in addition to the red leather headliner in the removable hardtop. The factory soft top was also redone with the refurbished frame covered in grey cloth.
Instead of simply repairing the damage after the vandalism, Marc took a risk by attempting to improve on an already exceptional car. As it turned out, the risk was worth the reward and the final product was far better than he could have ever hoped. He thoroughly accomplished his goal of taking it to the next level by building a Corvette that is a solid driver complete with classic styling and a modern twist.