1958 Roadster - The Rocks' Roller

From barn-found project to stroked fuelie screamer

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Barn find. Does that term scare you with what you might see, or excite you with what it might be?

Andy and Darlene Rock's '58 Corvette is such a car, built to fulfill a dream of Darlene's, to have a solid-axle Corvette, and of Andy's, to have a C1 like the '56 SR2 his high-school classmate, Cookie Kenuth, had.

Their search started in the early '90s and led them to a '58 that was, to be blunt, a project. "The passenger windows were broken, it had probably about five paintjobs, and the paint was dulled out pretty bad," Andy recalls. "The chrome was in need of attention as well, but it wasn't too bad."

Not too bad, but not all there. The original 283 was under the hood, but its factory- installed Rochester fuel-injection system was nowhere to be seen. In its place sat an aftermarket four-barrel and intake manifold.

With a lot of work and TLC--especially 12 hours of buffing the incorrect red paint on the original fiberglass--they had a C1 that was almost ready for the road. A stroker 384 built by a friend replaced the original 283, which Andy kept (and still has). But then--disaster. "That one blew up on the dyno, from a defective oil pan," says Andy.

RaceCrafters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was called upon to make a streetable engine out of what was left of the 384. The carbureted stroker small-block they built was ready to power the car while Andy and Darlene took part in the inaugural HOT ROD Power Tour East, celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary along the way.

The next year, what started as a strip-and-repaint job turned into the full "restification" that resulted in the Vette seen here. They called upon Lonny Gordon of East Coast Muscle Cars in Craley, Pennsylvania, and at his shop the transformation began. Their goal: Keep the original parts on it, while updating the '58 to a retro-looking, yet up-to-date, performer.

Under the hood, the stroker 384 stayed, but its carburetor had to go. "When Lonny and I were doing the design, I found an EFI setup that looked like the original Rochester unit, from Arizona Speed & Marine," says Andy, who adds they weren't out of the woods yet. They found out--the hard way--that the new stroker crankshaft they'd installed had been ground wrong. "A burr on the crank took out the thrust bearings," Andy recalls. "We pulled the engine out again, put a brand-new crank in it, and it's been fine ever since."

Also causing no troubles: A Muncie M-21 four-speed, a 9-inch rearend, and a restored chassis with MP Brakes discs at each corner.

For the body, the '58's original chrome trunk ribs stayed, but all the old paint came off, replaced by a Snowcrest White-with-Inca Silver coves finish, an original '58 color choice. Librandi's in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, restored all the exterior chrome trim, while Al Knoch supplied the repro upholstery for the cabin.

In addition to its Power Tour appearance, the car scored a class win at Corvettes at Carlisle the first time the Rocks showed it. Since then, it's carried on as a cruiser and weekend show car, one that now shares a garage with Darlene's '02 Z06.

With a 400-plus-horsepower, EFI-urged stroker small-block under its hood, and modern hardware on its chassis, there's little question that it's a fun driver. "It's awesome!" exclaims Andy. "You just touch the gas, and it barks the back tires."

It might even be a car that Zora Arkus- Duntov himself might have wanted to drive--without a raincoat. Andy relates some Corvette lore about why the C1's door panels changed for '59: "[Duntov] was driving a '58, and he was wearing a raincoat. When he made a turn, the little band on the sleeve opened the door while he was driving."

For those inspired to do some "garageology" in search of a project Vette of their own, Andy has this advice: "Do your diligence, and be very patient through the process. It's like building a house--don't make too many changes once you commit to your plans."

That way, you just might find a Vette that'll make your dreams come true--like Andy and Darlene did.

SPECSHEET



'58 ROADSTER


OWNERS
  • Andy and Darlene Rock; Spring Grove, PA
BLOCK
  • Production cast iron
DISPLACEMENT
  • 384 ci
HEADS
  • GM Vortec aluminum
VALVES
  • 2.02/1.60
CAMSHAFT
  • Crower hydraulic roller
PISTONS
  • Federal-Mogul
COMPRESSION
  • 10.5:1
CRANKSHAFT
  • Ohio Crank "stroker"
RODS
  • Lunati
INTAKEMANIFOLD
  • ArizonaSpeed& Marine aluminum
FUEL INJECTION
  • Arizona Speed & Marine electronic, FAST ECM unit
FUEL PUMP
  • Arizona Speed & Marine electric
IGNITION
  • MSD electronic with tach-drive distributor
EXHAUST SYSTEM
  • Jet-Hot-coated Hooker headers, Borla XR1 mufflers; system fab- ricated by HE Per- formance, Elizabeth- town, PA
TRANSMISSION
  • Muncie M-21 four- speed manual with Hurst shifter and OEM- style "skinny stick" lever
CLUTCH
  • Spec
DRIVESHAFT
  • Stock
SUSPENSION
  • Restored stock coil springs, tubular KYB shocks and stabilizer bar (front); restored stock longitudinal leaf springs, tubular KYB shocks (rear)
BRAKES
  • MP Brakes discs (front and rear)
WHEELS
  • Budnik "Muroc III" alu- minum; 17x7 front, 18x8 rear
TIRES
  • Yokohama YK250 radi- als; 205/50R17 front, 225/55R18 rear
CURRENT MILEAGE
  • Approximately 157,000

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