From the time Paul Poidomani laid eyes on this '64 Corvette Sting Ray to the time it was finished was a span of nearly 20 years. From a bleeding lump of metal to better-than-new perfection, Paul has witnessed it all.
His first encounter with the Corvette came in 1984 in Ventura, California, when it belonged to a Cadillac dealer he worked for. It was rotting in the dealer's home garage and hadn't been driven in years. The fluids leaked, the pipes were rotted, the gaskets had dried up, and the interior was ripped. The owner gave Paul the task of bringing it back to life, but wasn't willing to invest what was needed for a restoration. So Paul did the best he could to maintain the car until 1988, when he purchased it and later brought it to Florida.
Paul met David Malott at Little Dave's Corvette Shop in Orlando. He took the car to Dave for a new coat of paint-nothing more. Dave was willing, but the further the project went, the more the two men felt compelled to see it through to completion.
"Initially, it was going to be a four- to five-month project, but it ended up taking 311/42 years," Paul says. "It was frustrating, but it was worth it."
With the go-ahead to completely rebuild the car, Dave went to the extreme. It was disassembled until nothing else could be taken apart. Virtually every nut, bolt, washer, clip, and bracket was either refurbished or replaced. All body components were hand-fitted to ensure perfect alignment.
If a part couldn't be refurbished or ordered, it was fabricated. The drip rails at the front and rear of the door openings were rusted out, so they were custom made, as was the heater box.
"What amazed me," Paul says, "were the hours Dave spent perfecting a piece no human eye was ever going to see."
Six coats of PPG basecoat silver were followed by three coats of clear. Paul bought the car red, but silver was discovered to be the original color, and the paint was eye-matched to a sample of the original.
"It wasn't just the physical work, but the research too," Paul says. "David knew everything about the car, down to the hour it rolled off the assembly line. It was as if he re-created the moment of creation."
When this car was built in 1964, it was filled with a 327ci/300hp engine, and it now holds a stock rebuild. The red leather interior was supplied by Eckler's.
The meticulous detail to which this car is restored is the direct result of Dave's zealous determination, something that continually amazed Paul.
"He is so intense," Paul says. "One time, after midnight, I watched him stand and look at a line on the car for 20 minutes, just frozen. I thought he was having a heart attack. Finally, he threw up his hands and stormed out. That's the kind of fanatical artist he is. He just refused to put anything on the car that wasn't perfect."
The process was painstakingly slow, and Paul no doubt wondered if there were times he had made the right decision; but when the body came off, he knew there was no going back.
"The point of no return was when it came off the frame and we saw how bad it really was," he says. "I knew we were opening up a can of worms. So many wires were bypassed, David couldn't figure out how the car started. I knew then I either had to sell the car or go through with it. I just had too much sentimentality not to do it."
Paul says that by the end of the project, he wasn't the only one with a sentimental attachment to the car. "It's an amazing saga," he says. "Every time we turned a corner, there was another twist. We never anticipated it would take so long, and I think when it was done, David had a hard time letting it go. But if you're only going to do this once in your lifetime, this is the way to go."