Jim's shop got the body in fine shape before the black two-stage DuPont ChromaBase paint went on. "You couldn't tell that it was a basket case when it was done," he says. "Everything was worked out of it. You couldn't tell that anything was ever hurt on it." Except for the grille, all of the trim below the '59's beltline, including the bumpers, was de-chromed and painted to match the body.
You'll also notice that this is a hardtop-only car, with no soft top. "The hardtop was a must," says Jim of Laurie's top preference. "He loved the car with the hardtop, and he hated it without it. He didn't even have a convertible top on it." The top well behind the seats, plus the adjacent area where the OE fuel tank was, are now a carpeted storage compartment.
Now that the one-time basket case is an air-conditioned grand touring car, what's it like to drive? Says Jim, "It's fast. The car is light. It puts out about 430 to 450 horsepower, and it weighs about 2,700 or 2,800 pounds wet, so the car is fast. It stops on a dime, and it's a lot of fun."
If you're not scared of the idea of turning a garage full of parts into a Vette Rod or other fun driver, Jim has some sound advice about one thing you should have from the get-go. "Start with a good rolling chassis," he says, noting that step is much easier now than when he started on the '59's build. "When the chassis work was done on this car, there weren't all of the different companies that produce the [modified] chassis. You can buy a rolling chassis now from several different companies that are as good, or even in some cases better, than what we had. They're lighter, and they're stiffer."
Data File ::: '59 Chevrolet Corvette
Owned by: Laurie V. Hekking, Naples, Florida