We have no intention of trying to pass this custom '58 Corvette kit car off as an authentic '58 Vette-Rod, though it could easily fool most passersby. The details in the meticulously sculpted body lines, the shapelier dimensions in comparison to the real-deal roadster, and the recent trend of converting classic Corvettes into modern-powered, late-model, hybrid performers all help to substantiate this Street Rods Only halo car.
Mike Walker, proprietor of the Macon, Illinois, custom-fabrication shop, has been in the business of building customized street rods for 25 years, from wild Willys, '32-'37 Fords, '35, '49, and '57 Chevys, and a little bit of everything else mixed in between. Among the wild creations rolling out of his garage, several have been client-customized, first-generation Corvettes. Working on the fiberglass-bodied, lightweight roadsters gave him a certain buzz, and the more he worked on them, the more he realized the potential for greater and more creative avenues he could follow with the American sports car. And so he began negotiations with the Mastretta brothers.
If you haven't heard of the Mastretta brothers you simply haven't been reading your issues of Corvette Fever close enough. In our August '06 issue, we answered a reader's inquiry concerning a mysterious Corvette kit car featuring a unique Mexico-built body produced during the late '90s. Our research (with help from Rich Lagasse) discovered that the Mastretta brothers from Mexico had graduated from Texas University with engineering degrees, returned back home, and began a lucrative business in custom fabrication. Using detailed CAD illustrations and high-tech computer equipment, the two Mastretta brothers began producing '58 through '60 Corvette bodies. While their innovative body designs were sold throughout North America, the Mastrettas also fabricated the chassis, suspension geometry, and platform underpinnings for their retro creations. Complete, rolling, revamped Corvettes began rolling out of their shop shortly thereafter, with the fabled "Mexican Vette" moniker.
Unfortunately, the Mastrettas were only able to assemble a total of 20 complete vehicles as the costs of producing a complete vehicle in-house were too prohibitive for the small company. In lieu of manufacturing complete cars, they chose to begin selling off their custom bodies. Several companies throughout the States purchased the Mexican Vette bodies. While a few private companies' misdealings with customers had no direct connection to the Mastrettas' south-of-the-border Vettes, people's opinions of the Mexican Vettes began to sour. Clients lost deposits, companies vanished, web sites were shut down, and a long list of grievances caused many of the enthusiasts to simply turn their backs on the idea of suitable Corvette kit cars. Sales slumped, and the Mastretta brothers decided to pursue other ventures and sell off their interest in the Corvette kit car industry.