The enthusiast market is starting to turn away from hermetically-sealed, untouched, never-driven, garage showponies and shift slowly towards driven, technologically-updated Vette rods, especially since the majority of Corvettes were never super-rare or pristine anyway. The conversion from stock and subtle to high-tech and wild ranges from merely brakes and radio improvements to the stuff of enthusiasts' dreams, such as this carbon fiber-on-black '57 roadster.
The resto-modification of any car can be costly, nearing the price of a new Corvette off the lot, but there are some things money can't buy, as advocated by the legendary Fab Four. As far as Cass Casmir is concerned, his money has, in fact, bought him love.
Cass took one look at what SRIII Motorsports was offering for Corvette owners and knew he had to have one. SRIII, in New Lenox, Illinois, a full-service custom shop that specializes in updating old cars with modern technology, made a name for themselves by fabricating full-tube frame chassis for '53 to '63 Corvettes utilizing all C4 running gear. President Mike Stockdale and his crew cut their teeth on a '57 Corvette with all '92 ZR1 drivetrain, sporting a rigid 2-inch round-tube space frame. From then on, SRIII had become one of the most prestigious hybrid Corvette specialists.
Cass ordered a frame for his '57 back in 2002. Wanting to be unique, Cass asked Mike if he was up to configuring a chassis to accept the C5 front and rear suspension components, along with the torque tube and rear transmission. Making several preliminary measurements on a '56, Mike noted the C5 track was four inches wider than the '57 body. He suggested narrowing the suspension to fit the body, but Cass replied, "No, I want a WIDE TRACK!"
After a grueling six months, the new '57 C5 platform was on display at the Chicago Vettefest. The newly updated tube chassis was replete with a 405hp Z06 crate engine, a six-speed Tremec manual transmission, fabricated stainless steel 211/42-inch exhaust with Borla mufflers, balance tube, and brake lines. Heat shields were placed over the pipes and mufflers to keep things cool.
Cass' desire for a C5 chassis spurred SRIII to develop a whole new product.
When Cass dropped off the '57 Corvette he has owned since 1972, Mike quickly learned how non-numbers matching the car really was. Painted in '69 Pontiac Green Metallic, the roadster needed just about everything imaginable. It was disassembled down to a mere shell, and soda-blasted down to the gel coat at Stow Autobody in Lockport, Illinois, in preparation for all the necessary paint and bodywork.
An obscene amount of floor modifications were necessary to adapt the C5 torque tube and rear-mounted transmission. The body had to be fitted to the new chassis because the tires protruded outside the body more than two inches at each corner. Not content to simply glue aftermarket flares or globs of body filler onto the fenders and quarters, Mike and his creative crew proceeded to cut, stretch, and manipulate the fiberglass panels outward to accommodate the chromed C6 rims and tires.
During the modifications, SRIII added custom-molded Z06 brake scoops and stainless steel mesh in the rear rocker panels; a subtle modification that adds to SRIII's expertise.
The widening of the '57 is so perfectly subtle, that most observers aren't even aware of it until they are shown the difference. To maintain the C5 modifications, the rear fascia was shaped with an appropriate recess to accommodate the rear-dump C5 exhaust.
After the changes were made, the body was painstakingly blocked and blocked again, so the DuPont black base and clearcoat could shine. Cass initially inquired about painting flames inside the side coves, but Mike felt that experimenting with carbon-fiber inlay would make for a far more dramatic result. The process worked unbelievably well, and they decided to cover the upper dash with carbon fiber and also fabricated the '57 door panel inserts.
The dash face was also customized to accept the new style JVC sound system, while A/C vents were added to the corners to funnel the cool air from the Vintage Air unit. The aged speedo was rebuilt and modified to match the Auto Meter Arctic White gauges.
Dave at D&E Interiors had his hands full. The Blue Island, Illinois, shop sewed the black and red leather together to cover the shortened and modified C5 power seats, along with the carpeting and black Stayfast convertible soft-top. Al Knoch made the '57 black door panels, kick panels, and covered the flame-red dash brow.
More cosmetic alterations were made in the engine compartment, which was smoothed-in by filling the old heater opening and miscellaneous wiper holes. The inner fender-well was smoothed-in by filling the recess for the stock steering box. Everything was blocked, primed, and painted black like the body. The Z06 engine pumps out 405 ponies with an 80mm throttle body, and breathes through a custom cold-air intake with a K&N filter in front of the DeWitt custom aluminum LS series radiator. Power steering, power brakes, and A/C fill out the engine compartment.
Amazingly, this wide-track '57 has been on the road for six months. Cass took the keys from Mike at SRIII with relish, enjoying all the due attention and expected awards. All in all, he loves the ride, handling, and behavior of this totally unique Z06 '57, a gorgeous roadster that he drives with an eye for any who would dare to take on his black beast!