Split Personality

A case in point for restomodding a '63 coupe

As noted in our intro, the decision to restore or restomod depends on several factors, including the condition of the Corvette. In the case of John Daniels, who has been permanently afflicted with a case of Corvette fever since first the split-window rolled out 50 years ago, the decision was fairly simple. His friend John Vestri of Vestris' Vettes, a firm that specializes in rescuing and resurrecting non-original donor Corvettes, found a '63 coupe in Arizona that had a good body and interior. But the original running gear was gone, and a Chevy 350 crate engine was in the engine bay, so the choice to restomod was basically a given.

Since Vestri had a backlog of work, he introduced Daniels to Mike Filion of Pro Design Hot Rods in Santa Ana, California (who built the "One Fine '59" C1 featured in our first installment). Both of these Pro Design Corvettes are primo examples of how to transform a tired collectible into a contemporary classic. The frame-off project began with gusseting and reinforcing the frame for far more power than the original had, and installing custom motor and transmission mounts for an '09 LS7 and 4L65E automatic with a Lokar shifter.

While the rearend is stock, both ends of the chassis were enhanced with control arms and monosprings from Vette Brakes & Products, plus Bilstein gas shocks at all four corners. Corvette America supplied a sport-ratio power-steering system, which is linked to a Flaming River column. All told, the goal was to get this '63 to perform as well as--or maybe even better than--Daniels' '91 ZR-1.

While all those upgrades were in the works, the body went to Media Resurfacing for stripping, getting rid of the original's notorious orange-peel paint. The door gaps, meanwhile, were evened out to an exacting 3?16-inch, a level of precision rarely seen on early Corvettes.

While the silver paint color looks similar to the hue from the factory in the early '60s, it's actually a custom PPG mix, expertly applied by Pro Design. Steve Vandemon gave the coil covers a custom airbrush graphic.

Pro Design installed a number of other trick treatments to give this split-window the latest and greatest in automotive technology. When all was said and done, Daniels had the Corvette he first lusted after as a teenager, and then some.

SOURCE
Newman Car Creations
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805-226-9201
www.newmancarcreations.com
Street Rods Only
217-764-3838
www.streetrodsonly.com
Pro Design Hot Rods
714-436-1158
www.prodesignhotrods.com