Jim's shop got the body in fine shape before the black two-stage DuPont ChromaBase paint went on. "You couldn't tell that it was a basket case when it was done," he says. "Everything was worked out of it. You couldn't tell that anything was ever hurt on it." Except for the grille, all of the trim below the '59's beltline, including the bumpers, was de-chromed and painted to match the body.

You'll also notice that this is a hardtop-only car, with no soft top. "The hardtop was a must," says Jim of Laurie's top preference. "He loved the car with the hardtop, and he hated it without it. He didn't even have a convertible top on it." The top well behind the seats, plus the adjacent area where the OE fuel tank was, are now a carpeted storage compartment.

Now that the one-time basket case is an air-conditioned grand touring car, what's it like to drive? Says Jim, "It's fast. The car is light. It puts out about 430 to 450 horsepower, and it weighs about 2,700 or 2,800 pounds wet, so the car is fast. It stops on a dime, and it's a lot of fun."

If you're not scared of the idea of turning a garage full of parts into a Vette Rod or other fun driver, Jim has some sound advice about one thing you should have from the get-go. "Start with a good rolling chassis," he says, noting that step is much easier now than when he started on the '59's build. "When the chassis work was done on this car, there weren't all of the different companies that produce the [modified] chassis. You can buy a rolling chassis now from several different companies that are as good, or even in some cases better, than what we had. They're lighter, and they're stiffer."

Data File ::: '59 Chevrolet Corvette

Owned by: Laurie V. Hekking, Naples, Florida

Original '59 Corvette body with RPO 419 auxiliary hardtop (and no convertible top)
RESTORATION Barr's Performance, Naples, Florida
MODIFICATIONS All chrome trim on body removed, all bumpers de-chromed and painted to
match body, clearance scoop on hood, firewall smoothed and filled, electrically-
operated doors and trunk lid, C4 Corvette emblem on front above grille, C1 Fuel Injection fender badges
PAINT DuPont ChromaBase black basecoat/clearcoat; painting/paint prep by Barr's Performance
Modified production '59 Corvette with original frame
MODIFIED BY Barr's Performance
MODIFICATIONS Custom-fabricated and relocated 20-gallon fuel tank, battery and HVAC unit
SUSPENSION relocated behind seats
'91 Corvette C4 with coilover shocks (front), '91 Corvette C4 IRS with composite
monoleaf spring and coilover shocks (rear)
STEERING '91-vintage GM/Saginaw C4 Corvette rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
BRAKES Wilwood four-wheel disc brakes with 13-inch rotors and six-piston calipers
(front), four-piston calipers (rear)
WHEELS Custom-built five-spoke Fikse wheels, 17x10
TIRES Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 255/40ZR17 (front), 275/40ZR17 (rear)