Every Corvette enthusiast has an idea for the “perfect” Corvette floating around in their head. It might have been drawn on your “Pee Chee” in home room with the color, motor and wheels all meticulously massaged and thought out. Or in a folder on your computer that might have car show pics of other guys Vettes that you’re going to blend together into one mega show stopper.
For a lot of classic Corvette fans, the 1957 model is truly the holy grail of C1s and commensurately, their desirability, and values have skyrocketed over the decades. Unbeknownst to the general public or GM itself, these cars turned out to be timeless, rolling works of art that ethically and morally probably should be preserved.
Only problem with that old yarn is it ain’t a lot of fun. And with the resto-mod thing at a fevered pitch, a lot of guys have crossed the line and altered cars forever, causing concern amongst the faithful even if the results are light years ahead of the tired old rigs they replaced.
Well, Corvette Central has a perfect solution. They sell a darn near perfect repro body that is dimensionally accurate and faithful to an original 1957 Vette. What’s even better is that most every part from an original ’57 will fit on the new body. Add that to a cadre of proven aftermarket components available to marry to this brand new body and your dream Corvette is limited only by your imagination and your budget.
Waldon-Younger Corvette Restoration, out of Fyffe, Alabama built a Concept ’57 (christened P-57) that will blow your head off, and is as close to C1 porn if there ever was such a thing. A beautiful Onyx black /silver cove/red interior roadster with the latest and the greatest goodies. The work is meticulous and the build beautifully photographed to showcase Corvette Central’s awesome body, W-Y’s skills and a who’s who of aftermarket suppliers behind the resto-mod movement.
According to Corvette Central “The Concept ’57 body uses Owens Corning fiberglass mat and Ashland Chemical Co. resins for increased flexibility, which will help reduce cracking and aging of the body during use. The adhesives used to bond the surfaces together have 50 to 70-percent elongation properties combined with 3,500 psi shear strength, making the bonds on this new body far more flexible and stronger than the original bodies.
All the original hinges can be used on the new body, but Corvette Central also offers gas-operated trunk hinges and an improved hood hinge that can easily replace the original style if the customer so desires. Also, the bodies are factory assembled on a jig to prevent any warping or distortion, and all the primary mounting hardware locations are factory machined or clearly marked on the body so there is no guesswork when fitting the pieces together.
One of the major benefits of using a new ’57 body is that the inner fender wells can be ordered in original or modified form to allow for modern independent front suspensions. The bodies wear an ivory gel-coat and are ready for preparation and finish painting.
Lastly, the body is not made up of multiple pieces and bonding strips, it’s made from two large pieces–the outer shell and the floor/firewall are continuous pieces. These two are then glued together, resulting in a stronger body with less cosmetic finessing.
The Motor And Chassis
Outfitting the new Concept ’57 with state of the art running gear is an especially tantalizing aspect of a resto-mod build. W-Y ordered up a Street Shop Inc. frame that will be a rock solid foundation for the car and fit nicely under the svelte ’57 Vette body.
Street Shop starts with .120-inch (approximately 1/8-inch) walled 2×4-inch square tubing which is then mandrel bent to strict specifications. The company has extensive R&D in creating a frame with a minimum of interference between the body and frame.
From there, motivation is handled via a healthy 2006 LS6 with 405 HP and 400 ft-lbs of torque mated via a Lakewood bell housing to a Tremec TKQ-500 5-speed transmission. The C4 front and rear suspension is fitted with a nice set of 17X9 Torque-Thrust wheels and Kumho Ecsta 215/50-17 tires. four-wheel disc brakes at all corners provide stopping power Zora Arkus-Duntov could’ve only dreamed about in post-war Detroit.
In addition to Street Shop, a Concept ’57 buyer has other well know chassis providers to choose from as well. Check out Street Shop Chassisworks, SRIII Motorsports, Inc, Newman Car Creations and Art Morrison.
A ’57 Vette has some of the best mid-mod, chrome jewelry ever created for an automobile. From the toothy grille to the scooped out taillights, these details are what make this Harley Earl masterpiece pop.
What’s great about Corvette Central, is many of the trim parts are available via their Exterior Trim Package,which not only supplies you with many of the necessary parts while ordering only one part number but you also save money purchasing them as a package.
Fitting The Body
The Waldon-Younger Corvette dudes are proponents of test fitting all parts and pieces of the build before paint. Lowering a freshly painted body onto a chassis is scary enough and with the tight clearances of the new frame and suspension, handling this all before paint is (obviously) the way to go.
There were only two mods needed to make Concept ’57 fit its new chassis. Some material had to be remove in the engine compartment to clear the upper control arms and in the trunk, a small section of the spare tire tub was removed to accommodate rear tie rods.
The body kit comes with mounting hardware to secure the fiberglass shell to the chassis at all the original locations. Proper alignment and shimming of the body is imperative before any final fitting of body panels can be done. One thing that you will immediately notice is the increased thickness of Corvette Central’s Concept ’57 floor. It’s considerably thicker than an original for more strength and sound deadening, both a plus when building a driver.
Once the body is securely fastened to the frame and the doors are properly aligned and gapped, the operation and fit is as good as (if not better than) the originals. Exact final shimming of the body will be done when we get the windshield frame and door window post trim installed.
With all the trim finessed, removed and easily attached later, body prep and paint commence. According to Walden-Younger, they “Started with DuPont 2K Urethane Primer-filler over Concept ‘57’s original gel-coat, which was then smoothed out and covered with DuPont’s 2K Premier Sealer.
This was provided to seal off the body in preparation for the basecoat, and the shaded sealer also helps in the color coverage with the basecoat.Then two coats of DuPont Chroma Premier Base Coat (black for the body and silver for the coves) were applied and covered with DuPont Chroma-Clearcoat.
To contrast with the black exterior, we covered the trunk, dash and interior in Venetian Red in single-stage DuPont Chroma Premier paint. We added a flattening agent when the interior was painted to slightly reduce the shine on the dash and surrounding surfaces.
The red guts of the car contrast nicely with the Onyx black and silver coves (For the record,there were only two color options available for ’57 Corvette interiors, beige and red.) Correct Waffle pattern seat covers were utilized and add another facet of authenticity to this ’57 clone.
All circular gauge openings in dash are machined to ensure proper fit. When available, original gauge mounting plate and lower reinforcement can be used. Tunnel panel is part of floor and includes U-joint shield. Tunnel will accommodate almost any GM automatic or manual transmission.
The car leverages Corvette Central vast inventory parts. Trim, handles and emblems are widely available, other are harder to come by. Gauges are available from several suppliers including Stewart Warner and Dakota Digital.
Infusing newer technology into a car while holding true to the original design can be a daunting task. Upgraded components like the power windows, track-driven wipers and air conditioning will make driving the car much more enjoyable, but it doesn’t make the task of getting everything to work properly under deadline any easier. Focusing on the end result and not the current-day trials is the best way to see any issues through to completion; as the old spiritual goes, “one day at a time.”
Now, here comes the fun part. With the extensive pre-build prep, all the trim should bolt on quickly and easily. Now is the time to add any state of the art stereo/bluetooth/speaker combo and other goodies. Speaking of electronics, Walden-Young went the following route in regards to wiring up the car, “(We used a) harness the came with color-coded and labeled wires cut to a generic length. They will be trimmed to fit and then laced together as a complete harness once routed.
Being a custom-fit harness, there may be terminals that will need to be replaced to match the specific application. The instructions are good, but written for experienced wiring people. This harness took longer than if we’d just bought a finished ’57 harness, but we wanted to upgrade the wiring capabilities for P-57 and also use the modern fuse plugs rather than the old glass fuses.”
There are so many variables with building this Corvette from the ground up, especially when you consider that Concept ’57 is in actuality, a new car. Other than chassis from Street Shop Inc. and the body from Corvette Central, the guys started with basically nothing and that meant that they needed to find everything else that was to go on, in or under that body and chassis.
If they had a donor car, there would have been scores more parts ready at hand but, instead, everything must be sourced; every nut, bolt and trim piece. The good news is, buying the Concept ’57 body automatically enrolls you in Corvette Central’s Start-to-Finish program, which can save you considerable dollars over the life of the project.
The Final Result
A picture is worth a thousand words and this build hits all the right buttons. If you didn’t know you would never know this was a repro. With performance and handling commensurate with today’s best sports cars, this resto-mod Concept ’57 is truly the best of both worlds.
The Sky’s The Limit
Probably the coolest aspect of Concept ’57 is literally any “flavor” of 1957 Vette could be dreamed up, without chopping up original cars. The possibilities are endless.
The Bottom Line
You’re looking at roughly a $135K build here. You could trim A LOT off that price if you did most of the work yourself and by skipping $20K crate motors etc. Here’s the breakdown for the basic components.
- Concept 57 body, PN # 750057 – $14900.00.
- Exterior trim and lamp package PN # 750058 – $5295.00.
- Interior trim package – PN# 131143 – Approx. $2800.00 depending on color and type of carpet.
- Complete soft top assembly PN #541050, $2749.00
- Used windshield assembly with new glass, PN # 411083 $2495.00.
- Restored original hardtops, PN #431138, $7295.00
- GM Performance crate engine – $7500-20K
Although a Street Shop Inc. frame was used on this build, an equivalent Art Morrison chassis with suspension, C6 13″ front disc brake kit, SVO rear disc brake kit, Strange 31-spline axles, center section mounting kit, Strange nodular-iron center section with posi-traction and trans cross member. Everything you need for a rolling chassis, less tires and wheels – goes for $16,295.00. Again, if you can do some of the work yourself, you’ll save alot of money. If not, labor costs add up quick.
With that in mind, save up your shekels and dust off those old Pee Chees with dream Vette sketches and give Corvette Central a call.