Early Generation Style with Modern Dependability
Story Kevin Harper / Images Andy Bolig - March 08, 2012 10:00 AM
“All these things had to look like original interior, so I needed someone that could fabricate pieces to get everything to work and look original.”
David Semel had a dilemma. He wanted a Corvette, so the dilemma became which one. It’s not a decision that may be as easy as it could seem.
“I was having a hard time deciding on buying a new Z06 or a C1,” he told us. “I really liked the style and look of the older ’Vettes, but was looking for the reliability and drivability of a new ’Vette.”
We all know that such an animal doesn’t exist … or it didn’t at that time. A visit to the Corvettes at Carlisle show put the idea on a new path. “I saw a C2 restomod,” he explains, “and realized this is what I wanted to do. The idea of having the best of both worlds was real. I set out to find a builder that would be willing to listen to what I wanted built.”
It took a couple of tries to get Semel on the right path. “I found Jerry Smith and Rusty Smith of Southern Street Rods & Corvettes and they were willing to listen to what I wanted. I wanted to build an all-C5 Corvette 1958 restomod. I wanted the appearance that it was a ’58 that just had a different color and Z06 wheels when people looked at it from the road. Everything needed to look very similar to what it was in 1958. My ideas were to have the exhaust come out like the new ’Vette, leather two-tone interior using 1958 deluxe panels, air conditioning, power windows and locks. All these things had to look like original interior, so I needed someone that could fabricate pieces to get everything to work and look original.”
The task was handed over to Southern while David set off in search of parts. Jerry Smith and Rusty Smith custom engineered and jig built a frame that could accept C5 front and rear suspension. Semel acquired a 2000 donor car. Johnny Cano did the rough fiberglass work. In order to get the body to fit, many areas had to be cut and modified. For example, the area between the seats had to be cut in order to accept the torque tube. Cano’s work made it so the new area had stock appearance and the stock glove box was used without modification.
Norm Church did nine months of bodywork and fitting. Tony Stanz and Mike Hacker of Back-In-Time added their talents with detail bodywork and paint. Phil Martin built custom panels for the trunk, added interior touches and created the C1 logos that are found throughout. His handiwork can also be seen on the floor mats, including the embroidered “58REDUX”, a name given to the car by Dave’s friend Natalie.
Custom seats were done by WiseGuys in Montana Blue and Snowstorm White leather. With samples of the interior, Al Knoch came up with a custom dash pad and door panels.
The car is powered by a 6.0L LS2 engine using Speartech PCM and custom harness for management. There’s a six-speed manual BorgWarner transmission controlled by the stock 1958 Corvette shifter. Some conversion work was necessary to get the original 1958 Corvette speedometer and tach to properly function.
If the car looks familiar, it may be because you have seen it on display at the National Corvette Museum, or perhaps you have had the unfortunate circumstance to go up against it at a car show. It has picked up awards ranging from People’s Choice to Celebrity Choice at a recent Corvettes at Carlisle.
Semel knows a purist or historian might not see the reason behind his creation. For him, that’s fine. His idea came to life in a manner that he hoped and the string of awards serve as justification for the job well done. Semel can now look upon the creation and know that dreams can come true, that anything can happen if you have a plan and that the amount of hard work can be justified by just looking at his car.
Imagine what it would have been like to have one of these in 1958? Those who sought a new car back then might have found it would be worth it to wait 50 years to see what was in store. With Semel’s creation, bringing two worlds together proves that two can be better than one.