In issues past we've chronicled the saga of how Rob Sutter's business partner, wife, and other friends conspired to spirit away his long-dormant '59 Corvette with the intent of secretly replacing the ex-dragster, non-streetable, wildly-cammed 327 engine with a daily-driver-friendly GM 350 crate engine. As we noted, partner Bob Yeoman owed Rob a host of favors and schemed to have a local shop install the crate engine without Rob's knowledge.
As you might expect, the installation, as these things always seem to go, blossomed into involving a new radiator, carburetor and manifold, ignition system, and more. And Bob was more or less prepared for this project/budget expansion. However what he wasn't quite prepared for was when Rob's wife Bonnie, who was in on the secret, innocently asked if the 50-year-old steering, brakes, and suspension were up to the task of safely managing Rob's new-found horsepower. Your author, long a straight-axle guy and consultant on this project, contacted CF to see if some well-known suppliers would like to get involved and provide some upgraded under-car parts to make the '59 (nicknamed Karen Ann some 20+ years ago), safe, fun, and reliable once again.
Among the suppliers who stepped up to the plate were Jim Meyer Racing, who provided a full independent front suspension (IFS) setup, and a lovely set of adjustable coilover shocks from Carrera/QA1. Flaming River Products supplied a nicely-crafted rack-and-pinion steering setup and column that is engineered to work in pleasant harmony with the Jim Meyer IFS.
The installation assignment went to Gary Gardner and his techs, son Craig and grandson Kyle at Gardner's Automotive in Easton, PA, who do a fair amount of Corvette work and aren't afraid of doing a little "creative engineering" when installing non-original parts. Following is an overview of the conversion to IFS and R&P. The under-car upgrades to this '59 included installation of 4-wheel disc brakes courtesy of Stainless Steel Brakes Corp., and the brake installation will be covered in a future issue of CF. Let's get to it.