A Star is (Re)Born: the Chop, Cut, Rebuild C4 Corvette

The inside story of the Chop Cut Rebuild C4 project car

Barry Kluczyk Aug 23, 2006 0 Comment(s)
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There's no denying the power of television, especially when it comes toautomotive and mechanical subjects these days--just ask thechopper-building Teutel family or Jesse James. Even the techno-nerds at"Mythbusters" have developed a cult-like following for stunts likeshooting guns underwater and determining whether cinnamon mixed withvodka makes a good mouth wash. (As it turns out, it does.)

Not surprisingly, the four-wheeled subjects of these shows generatetheir own publicity based on exposure on the tube. Chop Cut Rebuild(CCR) has made stars of more than a few cars. The show's unique formatfollows the restoration/rebuild of several vehicles during theseason--the opposite approach of many shows, which try to show sixmonths' worth of work crammed into a single, one-hour episode.

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CCR creator and host Dan Woods poses with the Vette in the desertoutside Las Vegas. Woods is perhaps best known for his role as Mr.Raditch in cable's "Degrassi" teen-drama series--all three of them.

What CCR (airing on the Speed Channel) brings to the throng ofauto-themed cable shows is detail. The viewer is able to take away amore realistic idea of what to takes to redo a car from the ground up.The producers and show founder/host Dan Woods had their work cut out forthem with the recent "restification" of an '88 Corvette convertible. Thesun-baked car was the first C4 project tackled by the show; its progresswill be featured on the kickoff episode of CCR's third season, in aone-hour special called "An American Seduction...The Corvette Affair."

One might ask why a whipped C4 was selected in the first place.

"There is an abundance of these vehicles on the market--cars that may notbe old enough to be a classic, but older than the factory supports withreplacement parts," says Woods. "The Corvette always has been America'ssports car, and this project shows how some attention to detail, TLC,and the right parts can transform a cast-off into something thatinspires passion."

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The CCR team started with a yellow '88 convertible obtained through aneBay auction in mid-2004, paying $5,000. Fairly rare in its own right,the Vette was one of only 578 originally painted yellow that year.Comparative rarity aside, it was a beat-up and neglected ride.

"It was in very poor condition," says Woods. "It ran, but it leaked alot and had trouble idling."

Having spent its entire previous life in the harsh sun of Scottsdale,Arizona, the car was overcooked. It also had more than 130,000 miles onits tired L98 small-block. After exchanging funds for the title, the carwas trailered to CCR's Huntington Beach, California, headquarters. Atestdrive revealed the forlorn Vette needed attention under the hood, atthe suspension and brakes, and, well, the less said about the conditionof the interior, the better.

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"But the body was in pretty good shape considering the car's overallcondition," says Woods. "Amazingly, this car showed signs of receivingvirtually no upkeep in all its years; it even looked like the originalbrake pads were in place."

The producers turned to Darryl Nance at noted Chevy restorer D&P ClassicChevy to handle the car's transformation. The shop has a strongreputation among Chevy aficionados, and if anyone had the talent tobring the Vette back from its near-death experience, it was D&P's crew.

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More than simply restoring the car, CCR's producers wanted to modernizeand update it--not to mention give the car some eyeball appeal. To thatend, a plan was devised to update the body with later-model fascias,give it a contemporary custom paint job, and shoe it with humongous--andpolished--rolling stock. In short, it would have all the boulevardbravado of a late-model "tuner," but wrapped in an 18-year-old shell.(And if you're having a hard time with the realization that 1988 wasnearly 20 years ago, welcome to the party.)

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