Projected Outcome

Choosing the right project vehicle

Story Andy Bolig / Images Mike Hacker and Dave Semel - February 04, 2014 01:45 PM


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Every project has to start somewhere and picking the right car to start with will greatly benefit the finished product

Decisions are part of the process to any build, rebuild or restoration, but making good decisions early on keeps those drama-laden, red-light flashing, reactive decisions to a minimum.

That’s exactly what Dave Semel was hoping for when he began searching out his next project. Being a Corvette enthusiast, like millions of other folks, he wanted a ’63 split-window coupe. No stranger to the fiberglass icon, he knew that finding just the right one might take a little time – and cash. Dave knew what he wanted and had a significant network of fellow enthusiasts by which he could make his desire to find one known.

That is how Dave found this example, although he does admit that word of mouth is not always the best way to find that elusive jewel. That ’Vette that someone informed you about just might turn out to be a Chevette instead! On the other hand, the folks who go the big-time coast-to-coast exposure route are usually looking an equal payout when the deal is done.

Time is another concern when looking for a project. If you need it tomorrow, plan on greasing the gears of the transaction with a lot of cash, but if you can take your time and shop around, you can locate a deal. With the popularity of the split-window coupe, Dave knew that a bargain was still going to be a commitment, but he had actually been looking for the proper starting point for several years when this car came up.

His patience paid off as Dave found this car about 30 miles from his home. It languished in a garage as an unfinished project car since 1987. It had all the paint stripped off most areas and was down to the fiberglass. It was hit on the passenger side door but someone had repaired it and it looked good. It didn’t have carpet installed, but it was in the back of the car. It ran really rough and one of the rims was bent and the tires were weathered. Many folks overlooked the project car because it was more work than they wanted to accept, but Dave knew what he wanted and what he needed to do.

Like most projects, this car will be completed in a home garage, not some high-dollar shop with recognizable from TV names on the front door. That doesn’t mean that this will be a bottom-dollar build. Dave and fellow-builder Mike Hacker intend on building a high performing, street-driver midyear that looks stock on the outside but harbors many late-model touches just under the surface.


Follow the step-by-step process in the April issue of Cars & Parts, on sale Feb. 25.