Time may heal all wounds, but it's hellishly hard on automobiles. These depredations tend to fall into two categories: those arising from the inevitable effects of the aging process, and those inflicted—whether intentionally or not—by one or more of the vehicle's owners over the course of its life. While the Corvette's fiberglass skin confers some measure of immunity to the former, the vintage-Vette market is rife with cars still suffering the effects of poorly executed body modifications and other “custom” work performed throughout the years.
All of which brings us, in admittedly roundabout fashion, to the '58 model depicted in the accompanying photos. Though outwardly appealing, with a recently re-sprayed Signet Red paintjob and a mostly intact interior, the car bore the unmistakable signs of what might be charitably be described as a “colorful” past. Most notable was the rear suspension, most of whose factory parts had been jettisoned at some point in favor of a kludged-together ladder-bar setup and a nine-inch Detroit Locker rear that shuddered in tight turns like a Kardashian at a geography bee.
While the original powertrain was also MIA, the news here was less grim. In the place of the stock 283 was a 406-cube small-block equipped with a Holley carb, AFR heads, and a raunchy hydraulic roller cam. The T-10 aluminum four-speed, meanwhile, had been supplanted by a heavier-duty iron Muncie (most likely an M-20). Given the '58 model's sub-3,000-pound curb weight, the package should have yielded rousing performance, at least in a straight line.
And it did…when it wasn't coughing, sputtering, and shutting off mid-charge. In fact, it was an inability to consistently perform up to its potential that ultimately forced the car's previous owner to wash his hands of the project. No matter what corrective action he took—from changing out the fuel filter and lines to having the tank professionally cleaned—the SBC stroker still evinced all the signs of an inadequate or contaminated fuel supply. At some point it all proved too much, and the Vette went up for sale.
When the new owner also proved unable to chase down the source of the problem, he took the car to AntiVenom, a Seffner, Florida–based performance tuner specializing in Corvettes of all vintages. After a careful process of elimination left the 54-year-old factory fuel tank as the only possible culprit, AV's Greg Lovell decided that the wisest (and most economically palatable) course of action was to order up a fresh replacement unit from Corvette Central.
CC's $349.95 Deluxe Gas Tank Kit (PN 361021) comes complete with a new cap, fill neck, gaskets, vent hoses, hold-down straps, and supporting hardware. Assuming originality isn't paramount, it's a smart alternative to simply cleaning and reinstalling the OEM unit, a process that, as we'll see momentarily, does not guarantee results.
Follow along now as we start to get this long-suffering C1 back on the road to fuel- system salubrity.