Sure, you can admire the external beauty of Scott Bartle’s gorgeous looking 1959 Corvette and be impressed, but this build is far from just a neat restoration, it is more like a re-engineering job. You need to delve a lot deeper into the build to discover what sets this car apart from the rest. The term ‘restomod’ gets bandied around a lot in the USA these days but no so much over here.
It is all about the inclusion of a late model chassis and running gear into perfectly restored, classic bodies. Think of it as an HQ Monaro over a brand new VF HSV. For some unknown reason, not a lot of this automotive trickery goes on in Oz and it is a shame. You can have the brilliant styling of yesteryear with the performance and handling of today. The combination sounds perfect and that is exactly why Scott decided to give Australian convention a miss and have his Corvette handcrafted in the USA.
After countless hours of research and phone calls, Scott decided to hand the entire project over to Mike Stockdale at SRIII Motorsports in Illinois. “Mike sounded the most knowledgeable and he had already started working with the C5 Corvette components that I wanted to include in my build. The more I spoke to him throughout the build the more my confidence grew in his abilities. As I expected, the build of the car became an evolution. He would suggest options or come up with a great idea and all I could say was yes,” explained Scott.
Mike’s plan for the build was to make the car fit the suspension rather than the other way around. Starting with a rough body shell made no difference for him as the number of modifications planned for the frame and the skin were endless.
The first port of call was to use the SRIII widened rear quarter panels that add around an extra 2-inches either side. This helped contain the C5 rear end that is 4-inches wider than the original 1959 geometry. Even though the guards are pumped, the change is subtle and well crafted. There was no point in keeping the twisted and outdated frame; so SRIII installed one of their custom made, tube-frame chassis that, in itself, is a work of art if not a little over-engineered.
The C5 Corvette suspension was then bolted into the frame with QA1 coil-over shocks and the wishbone front end. The chassis design and component placement retain the same geometry as the C5 Corvette, so basically the ’59 Corvette handles like a new car. C5 disc brakes with cross-drilled and slotted rotors were fitted on all four corners at the same time.
With the car being as wide as it is, the choice of wheels for Scott was limited. “Offsets and the amount of dish I could have on the rear created the most dramas. I had chosen a classic looking set with knock-off hubs but they wouldn’t fit, so after much tossing and turning I went with the 18-inch Billet Specialties. They still maintain a classic look and have the offset required to clear the brakes. I added the Corvette logo to the centre cap for a little more effect.” We can’t neglect to mention that this was SRIII’s first right-hand drive conversion and they took the job in their stride, even being extra sensible by using an HSV steering rack.
Powering the ‘Vette is a brand spanking new, factory-prepped LS2 6.0-litre motor that was used in the C5. Delivering around 400hp as is, Scott found there was no need to mod the motor. A custom made, stainless steel exhaust system was fabricated, along with a 4-inch cold-air intake. An air conditioning unit was fitted to give some extra comfort during Perth’s hot summers.
A Tremec six-speed is bolted directly into the final drive allowing a shift in weight over the rear wheels. This mod required some heavy-duty manipulation work to the transmission tunnel and a relocation of the fuel tank to the boot of the car. The gearbox has two overdrives and a final drive ratio of 3.90:1.
Sorting out the body was a bit of a mission but boy oh boy has it become something else now. Bathed in the same Electron Blue used on the 2004 C5, and with the pearl white coves, the car looks incredible. Miles and miles of fresh chrome work and that twin headlight, shark-toothed front end that Scott fell in love with just adds to the appeal of the car. You can’t help but be impressed.
The exhaust used to feed out of the rear bumper but that area is now reserved for the LED lamps with the exhaust now exiting under the car instead. Trick looking air intakes were added to the rear guards, just in front of the wheels, for a unique touch to the ’59. With the air conditioning fitted, the cowl vent was removed for a much cleaner and smoother look to the body.
The cabin of the ‘Vette is just as elegant as the body. The original metal instrument cluster houses new, white-faced gauges. The speedo has been refaced and rewired to retain the analogue readout rather than going digital. The custom made centre console houses a push start button, the start of the Alpine audio system and the air conditioning controls.
A Flaming River steering column has been mated to a Billet Specialties twirler to tie in with the rims on the car. The seats from a C5 were trimmed down to fit but also copped some extra bolstering in the right areas. The combination of the Arctic White ultra-leather and blue suede is a perfect match to the outside look of the car.
After investing four years into the Vette, Mike could finally hand the car over to Scott so that it could see Australian soil. “I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. The vision I had in my head came to life and is just perfect. It was the most extensive build that SRIII had undertaken due to the fact that the right-hand conversion added more work and also involved working on extra aspects of the car that usually don’t receive attention during a regular restoration. I see the car as an expression of who I am and I feel that I didn’t push the modern theme too much, so it doesn’t overpower the real beauty of the car which is the cosmetics.”
In a strange turn of events, I noticed the car online in a raffle. Yep, you can win this amazing machine!
To win this car, simply click on the link: