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1959 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster - Having It All

This is One First-Gen Resto Mod Vette With Attitude

Kevin Shaw Jul 1, 2006
Corp_0607_03_z Chevrolet_corvette_roadster_feature Red_exterior_front_view 2/1

We would show you photos of what Mike Coletta's '59 roadster looked like when he first got it, but we're afraid some of Corvette Fever's readers would run out and beat the previous owner for destroying such an iconic piece of American machinery.

Mike hails from Minneola, Florida, where he enjoys the retired life by building incredible, one-off, matchless coupes and roadsters. When Mike found this topless '59, it was missing far more than the roof. The front clip was crushed, rendering the front suspension worthless; the engine bay was void of a powerplant, transmission, and nearly every other piece of necessary running gear; the chrome was rusted and pitted; and the interior was tattered and rotten. However, Mike looked at the car with the same hope and madness that Dr. Frankenstein must have had when he stood over his patchwork monster.

Mike chose to leave nothing unmolested, turning the car from a wrecking yard resident to a wild, never-before-seen restomod, integrating new, lightweight, high-tech components into a classic Corvette. Mike began with a Corvette Correction chassis, which integrates superior structural stability with late-model suspension equipment. The 2x4 fully boxed frame chassis was fitted with all '95 C4 suspension components: a totally comprehensive transition of control arms, disc brakes, and sway bars. Mike used stock '01 17-inch Corvette chrome rims with Sumitomo rubber all the way around for the right look. An I-did-it polished steering box fits snugly where the obtrusive stock box would have been, offering improved space management.

Mike didn't want drivetrain issues, so he opted for a General Motors crate 350 small-block, hefting its weight with a perfect 1:1 horsepower-to-cubic-inch output. He added his personal touch to the dress-up of the engine with matching paint cues and polished chrome where he felt appropriate. A 700R4 automatic with an electric overdrive and Lokar shifter were bolted to the mighty mouse motor. A '95 Corvette donated its rearend with super-streetable 3.07 freeway-flyer gears to make the roadster a high-revving cruiser and joyride rather than a gnarly, fire-breathing race car many Vette-rods are prone to become.

Mike handled all the work in-house, building this little powerhouse in a short five months. With the lighting fast results of his build, he is able to drive this rod three or four times a week.

Mike painted the restored fiberglass body an ultra-rich coat of '04 Dodge Viper Red, while the interior was stretched and fitted with '57 Corvette Shoreline Beige vinyl. The interior was also modified with all the niceties of a late-model Corvette, including power steering, brakes, cruise control, air conditioning, multi-stage intermittent windshield wipers, power windows, and a 10-disc CD player with a 1,000-watt amplifier. Mike took the car up another notch by installing a Chevrolet Lumina power window motor to the hood hinge, making his own power-lift hood.

The final manifestation is a gorgeous hot rod Corvette that can keep pace with some of the best performing Corvettes, and still compete in the same shows as some of the finest NCRS machines around, while offering some of the best interior refinements and amenities. For starting off with nothing, Mike Coletta ended up having it all!

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