Part 2: An Authentic 1957 Corvette Restoration

Need to catch up? Click here to read Part 1: An Authentic 1957 Corvette Restoration

In part one of this series, Rich went searching for a very rare C1 Corvette. He happened to find a fuel-injected 4 speed that was bought and owned by enthusiast Dave Holwick for some time. The car faced some pretty wild rides and serious degradation over the years. Rich was willing to take on the restoration of the car, even at a high cost. Dave and Rich set an exclusive deal. Rich brought the car home, where he set a goal for the project: If he is to restore this vehicle, he must restore it using only refurbished parts, and he must completely return the car to factory specifications while updating the elements that simply make it a more durable automobile. Challenge accepted.

In this article, Rich begins his 8-year restoration on the ‘57 with the disassembly and assessment of what the vehicle needs.

He begins the project breakdown with a thorough inspection of the car’s every corner. Rich is experienced in restoring cars, so his priority was to scale the project by the assembly and make a large list of the parts that needed attention. In the case of this car, it was just about everything. 

The Disassembly

Since Rich wanted to keep everything factory, every part that came off the car received a rigorous process of disassembly, refurbishment, and assembly. The car came apart in sections, and each section was focused on singularly. Everything was extracted with caution: the drivetrain, the interior, the glass, and eventually the body itself were all removed from the frame before they were completely gone over. 

He made notes of the way Chevrolet constructed the Corvette as he went along, and he even logged the progress through pictures to show before and after restoration results. Rich found all sorts of assembly line markings, paint defects, interior detail shortcuts, and all of the assembly line paperwork that was born with the automobile. These were the sorts of details he wanted to preserve when restoring the vehicle.

The Restoration

The plans were all written out, and it was time to get down to business. Every part – down to the breather cap – needed to undergo a very patient process of sanding, tooling, priming, painting, and assembly. Highlights of the restoration include the fuel injection unit, engine, generator, transmission internals, ring and pinion, and chrome bumper pieces. The controversial topic of the fuel injection restoration was shot down when Rich patiently and properly repaired it.

The body itself was a unique circumstance since it’s made of fiberglass. Rich gel-coated and sanded the body several times to get the material absolutely flawless and well prepared.

Don’t forget that Rich completed all of this himself, with his own two hands and his own knowledge. It wasn’t just about matching the look of the original Vette. He used the same materials and processes to restore all of the car’s parts. When each assembly was finalized, Rich photographed the assembly for comparison and evidence. A very wise practice.

The Assembly

Devoted to the details and ready to make history, Rich began putting the pieces of this legend back together, until it reached its final and most current form. The ‘57 glistens in its pearly paint – showcasing every factory marking and detail. Don’t be mistaken – this car is far better than they ever were off the showroom floor.

And the judges of the Corvette Show in 2002 agreed, when the car received a gold award and certification for being the greatest factory spec C1 they’d ever seen. In the same year, Rich returned to the Holwich household to show how far along the project had come. Despite Dave Holwick passing away the year prior, his wife was in tears at the sight of the car.

It is just as Rich had hoped – his restoration made history. Authentic history.

About the author

Matthew McMurray

Matt McMurray is a young writer, photographer and entrepreneur with a passion for the modern world of all things automotive. Having grown up in his dad’s garage, he spent extensive time at the drag strip – both behind the wheel and under the hood.
Read My Articles

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