1954 Chevrolet Corvette - The Customizer's Touch

This '54 Vette Started Off As A Stocker, But It Couldn't Avoid...

John Nelson Mar 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

At the rear, the bodywork got a little more involved, but it's certainly the rear view of this '54 that's most likely to make passersby say, "Wait a minute, now...." Steve married the '90 Vette rear suspension assembly to the chassis without narrowing it, thereby avoiding any possibility of altering the ride and handling characteristics inherent in the newer system. But because of this decision it was necessary to widen the rear of the car from the doors back by 6 inches. To accomplish this, the body was split on both sides between the decklid and the raised portion of the quarter-panel, 3 inches were added to each side, and the work was blended in such a manner that the additional width is barely detectable. Then the original bumpers were removed and replaced by the front bumper ends, mounted vertically from the inside of the quarter-panels. A '57 Corvette decklid with a hand-built third brake light was installed for a smoother, more modern look. A super slick revolving license plate housing (using a headlight door motor for power) was built into the rear roll pan and '54 Buick taillights were used to cap the ends of the quarters.

After all the fit-and-finish items were dealt with to Steve's satisfaction, Roy sprayed the entire vehicle in a sparkling hue of DuPont tint base (#8275) over black. Bill Hampton added the Nissan Pearl White graphics and Jim Norris laid on the purple pinstripes, completing a flawless exterior.

After smoothing the dash and installing a set of Stewart Warner gauges, Steve called on the talents of Jeff McCain to make all the necessary electrical connections to bring the Vette to life. To finish up the interior, Don Clark carved out a set of bucket seats from foam stock, then covered them and the door panels he had created with tan leather, and also stitched up tan carpets for the floor.

It took the McCains three years to complete their custom '54 Corvette. And while you may not agree with what they've chosen to do to their car, there's no question that the first-rate customizing work is something to be admired. We see it as a unique ride built in the custom rod tradition, but for Steve McCain it's a matter of finally getting the Corvette he wanted-and it was well worth the wait.


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