Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Spring 2020
						61 Corvette Restomod B4

Diamond Glow

Story and photos by Steve Temple

Turning a lump of coal into a diamond takes time, heat and pressure. Well, Mark Carter went through something similar on his gem of a Corvette, transforming it from the raw material of an aging ’61 into a brilliant restomod. That metamorphosis required extensive modifications both inside and out, and replacing the chassis with modern underpinnings.

When he first came across this car through a classic Corvette dealer in Arizona, it was complete and drivable, but there was no history available, and the engine was not a matching-numbers mill. Since it was not a collectible show car, it was priced at a fairly reasonable $30,000.

Mark’s initial plan was just to leave well enough alone, “But as time went by, I found myself slowly restoring the car.” He rebuilt the suspension with newer components for better handling, but that didn’t quite fix things, as the car still tended to wander.

“It still drove like a ’47 Chevy pickup,” Mark recalls with a wince, shaking his head. “That’s when I thought about building a restomod. I loved the old-car styling, but didn’t like the old handling and performance.”

So he completely disassembled the car and stripped the paint to see what he really had. After sizing up the flaws, he set to work correcting them, along with making a number of modifications, which took about 18 months, on and off.

Mark wanted the Corvette to reflect the same quality of engineering as his company’s product line (he’s the founder and owner of E-Z UP, which makes tents, shelters and canopies) so he tapped one of his company’s skilled fabricators, Scott Oertle, as his body man. Providing some artistic expertise as well was Brian Stupski of Problem Child Custom Studio. This firm came up with a design concept and renderings.

As the design process progressed, Mark sought some additional assistance from the crew at HR&CS (Hot Rods & Custom Stuff).

Working as a team, Oertle and HR&CS sectioned the front valance for a better bumper fitment, tightening up the clearances with the body. The project ultimately required rebuilding the entire body, like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle.

They also had brass trim custom handcrafted for the entire car, along with custom fabricating the console. In addition, they modified the tonneau cover and transmission tunnel, and created a custom hood peak. Once done, Andy Meeh applied several coats of PPG Envirobase Custom Mix Pearl White and Charcoal for the coves.

While the body was in process, the crew at HR&CS swapped out the old frame with an Art Morrison chassis, fitted with an AME Sport IFS (C6 forged aluminum control arms and spindles), actuated by a power rack-and-pinion system with a Lokar column. Reworking the rear end is an Art Morrison triangulated four-link using a Strange Engineering Ford 9-inch, S-Series 3rd Member running 3.7 gears and 31-spline axles. Ensuring sure-footed stops are Wilwood SL6 front calipers and SL4 rear units, all fitted on on 14-inch discs, all drilled and slotted.

For an exhilarating throttle response, HR&CS installed a 6.2-liter LS3 engine, backed by a four-speed 4L65E automatic transmission and custom driveshaft from Oceanside Driveline. Feeding fuel to this modern mill is a Holley Dominator EFI Vehicle Management System, and air flows through a custom-fabricated engine cover intake with a K&N Filter element. Finishing off the mill is a VintageAir FrontRunner Accessory Drive System, and Billet Specialties valve cover/coil covers. Exhaust gasses vent through Art Morrison ceramic-coated headers and 2.5-inch polished stainless steel pipes with Magnaflow Performance mufflers.

For the cockpit, Rex Copeman crafted a leather treatment in glove-soft leather. Matching the upholstery is a leather-wrapped steering wheel from Billet Specialties with a select formula black contrast. Dakota Digital gauges grace the dash, and the sound system is JL Audio with Bluetooth.

This refined ride rolls on HRE Pre-Production Wheels (20 by 9.5 front, 20 by 10.5 rear). Wrapping them are Pirelli P Zeros (front 255/35ZR20 and rear 285/35ZR20).

All told, Randy Clark and the staff at HR&CS labored over the car over the course of nearly three years, and this extra effort received special recognition at the 2016 Grand National Roadster Show: First in Class and Overall Outstanding Sport/Sport Compact. Looking back on the project, it’s like the old saying goes, “You can’t rush art.” Or forming a diamond, either.

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Corvette Restomod