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1958 Chevrolet C4 Corvette - Chalk Outlines

How A Simple Frame Design Spawned A Company

Kevin Shaw Jul 1, 2005
0507_CORP_01_z_58 (chalk) 2/1

In the late '50s, forward-thinking hot-rodders and teenage mechanics were pulling large modern engines like 394 SkyRockets, Firepower 392s, and hefty Mark IIs out of Oldsmobiles, Chryslers, and Lincolns respectively, and dropping them in bodies sometimes 20 years old. This trend has evolved into a market nearly as large as the restoration groups. The marriage of old vehicles with new technology is what first inspired Billy Dawson to dream up this '58 C4 Corvette.

Billy wanted the accessibility and handling of his modern C4 with the classic lines and curves of a '50s hot rod, so he scoured the pages of every magazine and classified ad he could get his hands on. Finding nothing that galvanized his interest, he went back to the source. Billy had fond memories of a similar classic Corvette he once owned. He wanted something suitable to mate to his Corvette powerplant and running gear, so he decided to match it up to a classic Corvette. It was a homologation of classic Americana with modern technology.

One day he swept the floor of his shop, pulled out his white chalk, and sketched out what would become his guinea-pig platform that later became the test mule for his new company, Corvette Corrections. The frame was a trace of the ancient chassis, carrying over all the correct body mounts and positioning, even down to the hidden exhaust system that would be routed out the rear bumpers like the original. Yet, the totally boxed frame would excel its predecessor in many ways.

Billy engineered the frame, composed of square and rectangle tubing, to surpass the late '50s chassis in structural stability and rigidity. The frame would have to survive every application thrown at it-be it daily driving, road racing, or hard launches at the 1320. The chassis was designed to couple to the original body without major internal modifications or visible external alterations. Intended for other potential classic Corvette owners who wanted the best of every generation, this chassis would be specific to modern mechanicals.

Billy boasts that the frame couples easily to any small-block application. Lowering the engine an inch allows later intakes, such as the taller Ram Jet 350, to fit snuggly under the hood and sit half an inch forward to clear the stock windshield-wiper motor and provide enough space for a larger distributor. Big-blocks bolt in with similar results even though the frame is a full 3 inches wider than stock. Billy demanded that the frame be able to accept engine applications with headers and varying transmissions, with a repositionable crossmember that carries the stout rear mount.

Tucked deep underneath the curvaceous body, the new chassis looks considerably stock until further investigation. Billy's '58 is not only a gorgeous piece of mechanical engineering, it's his driver as well. The double-H-frame setup not only eliminates the faux pas of the first C1, but also adds a new personality to the car.

We've ridden with Billy in his C1/C4 hybrids and think he's onto something. It's too bad he wasn't doing this in 1962.

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