Over a couple of years, Jeff's crew solved the problems that were in, on, and under this Corvette. Once the body was the way they wanted it, on went the original Panama Yellow/Snowcrest White colors, this time in modern basecoat/clearcoat urethane paint instead of acrylic lacquer. The original 230hp 283 and Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed were rebuilt to factory-fresh condition, as was the 3.55-geared rearend. Inside, the interior received a full-on restoration, with new Charcoal vinyl press-pleated/embossed covers wrapped to the seats. Original, Daytona-style loop-pile carpeting replaced the well-trashed piece the car had when Jeff got it.

When the job was done and the owner first laid eyes on the finished product, what was his reaction? "He said it was 'gorgeous,'" Jeff recalls.

Moral of the story: If you're looking for a Corvette to restore yourself or to bring to a shop like Jeff's, look for as complete and solid a car as you can find. "Bring me something that's really, really clean, and I can build you a diamond," he says. "In general, steer away from rough cars." He says that the body and its brightwork are the most expensive part of any project, especially "on a car like [the '58 Vette]because there's so much of it-fitting all those grille teeth and making sure they have a razor-blade gap between each of them, filing all the die-casting, and sanding all the copper to remove waves and fit to the body exact. Tweaking the stainless trim to fit to the panel edges. There's a lot to it."

And when you finally pick a car, Jeff recommends you get an appraiser to inspect it. "Spend the $300-$400 to have a professional look over the car, because they know certain things to look for," he says. This way you'll have a clear understanding of what you're getting involved with."

That way, you'll end up with a car that's an attention-getter like this '58 Corvette. But it won't take as long to finish.

DATA FILE ::: '58 Corvette

Owned by John Barker; Restored by Jeff Lilly Restorations, San Antonio, Texas
TOTAL ’58 Corvette production 9,168; in Panama Yellow/Snowcrest White two-tone 190

Restored production ’58 Corvette
CHANGES Quad headlights, new nine-tooth grille, fake louvers on hood, and longitudinal chrome spears on trunk lid; Reproduction/replacement parts used in restoration, front body clip forward of doors
PAINT Panama Yellow/Snowcrest White, factory two-tone option (RPO 440), car’s original color scheme (Urethane basecoat/clearcoat paint used instead of OEM acrylic lacquer). Paint applied by Jeff Lilly Restorations, San Antonio, Texas
Restored production ’58 Corvette
SUSPENSION Front Coil springs with upper/lower A-arms, antiroll bar and hydraulic shock absorbers; Rear Leaf springs, hydraulic shock absorbers
BRAKES SSBC disc brakes at all corners replaced the OEM drum-and-shoe brakes and 11-inch-diameter drums
WHEELS 15x5-inch steel, with factory wheel covers
TIRES Reproduction 6.70-15 whitewalls radials (to eliminate bias ply’s rough ride)