Super Rod Magazine, August 2000Super Rod Magazine, August 2000

'59 SPEEDSTER: A Tube-Frame, 6-Speed, 409-Powered Blast From the Past.
Cover Photography: Scott Williams
Story: Doug Marion

Interesting story, this '59 Corvette cover car. Guy buys old Corvette sight unseen to restore. When delivered, all the expensive, hard-to-find parts are missing. The car is more or less a pile. Guy is upset. Restoration dream goes poof. But wait, a vision soon encompasses guy's mind. Rebop the bad boy. Drop 'er in the weeds. Go with an alloy tube frame attached to late-Corvette underpinnings. Kick butt with a six-speed manual gearbox. But what about the powerplant? Suddenly, like a slot machine winning on all "7s," the engine answer appears… "409."

Dig it, Daddy-O. Here's more on the skinny.

Owners Jeff and Lisa Gold bed down in Valley Center, California, where this dude has been a custom car buff for over 30 years. Indeed, this cat knows his super rods. You won't believe where these Californians found their '59 fiberglass flyer. It was hanging as a so-called "unique" ceiling decoration in a bar in upstate New York. Hey, we told you that you wouldn't believe it. Crazy.

1959 Corvette, top view.

During the 1959 production year, a total of 9,670 Corvettes were sold. Over the last two decades, the most highly modified ones were out-and-out drag cars. Few were modified and street driven. The Gold's rebop is so deep and well done, we thought it best to list all the mods and specifications in a simple to read sidebar.

1959 Corvette, side view.

After Jeff and Lisa finalized their rebop, they chose Hot Rods & Custom Stuff in Escondido, California, to pull it off, literally, then put it all back together - like never before. A tubular chassis from Automotive Design in Posen, Illinois, replaced the tired wanderlust original. As far as front and rear suspension goes, what would be better for a '59 Corvette than a late model 1999-type Corvette suspension? Ditto on the disc brake assemblies and proportioning valve. The differential is also late Corvette and because it is aluminum, the Golds had it polished to mirror-like perfection. The wheels are 17x9 and 17x10 PS Engineering "Kidney Bean" alloys. Late Corvette steering underpinnings find their way to an ididit tilt steering column and a three-spoke leather steering wheel. The interior is still in the classic 1959 form but the covering has been updated to cream-colored leather. Credit Ron Mangus at Custom Auto Interiors. The original instrumentation was gone, so after much research, the Golds went with Stewart-Warner "Wings" dials with a Painless Wiring loom.

1959 Corvette, opened up.

The 409 powerplant is a 1963 edition sporting 415 cubic inches. It features Venolia 10.3:1 compression pistons with Speed-Pro moly rings. The steel crankshaft spins with Clevite 77 bearings. Performance oiling is handled by a Mellings high-volume pump and a seven-quart capacity oil pan. The '09 runs better than ever thanks to Lunati split lift roller camshaft and kit. The valve lift is 0.595 inch on the intake valves and 0.612 inch on the exhausts. A Crane dual roller timing chain assembly assures accurate cam timing. Another thing that makes a 409 run strong are ported heads, especially on the exhaust ports. The 1963 425hp heads have large intake and exhaust ports to begin with, but now they are not only huge but smooth as well. Valve sizes are 2.19-inch intake and 1.72-inch exhaust valve springs are from competition cams. Add 50 horsepower for sure. Firing the monster is an MSD billet distributor with an MSD 6A amplifier. Atop the dual quad intake manifold are a pair of Competition Series, 750 cfm Carter AFB four-barrel carburetors. Spent gases are exited via a custom set of tubular headers by Bob Butler. The entire exhaust system is Jet Hot-coated.

1959 Corvette, front view.The Richmond six-speed transmission is set in place with a high-performance McLeod clutch and flywheel assembly inside a Lakewood hydro-formed scattershield bellhousing. A custom heavy-duty driveshaft was expertly whipped together at Oceanside Driveline in Oceanside, California.

With everything said and done, Tim's Paint & Body in Escondido, California, prepped the fiberglass body and then applied the Gold's chosen hue - PPG Rally Orange. Sans paint, the

1959 Corvette, rear view.Golds took the 59' Speedster to Goodguys West Coast Spring Nationals and came away with a Pro's Pick award.

With an overdriven 6th gear and 3.3:1 differential ring-and-pinion, the Speedster can cruise virtually anywhere. This is one of coolest classic Corvettes to come off the wall and down the pike in a long time. It could very well be shades of things to come. All we can say is, "enjoy the ride." SR.


Builder: Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, Escondido, Ca.
Chassis: Tubular/Automotive Design, Posen, IL.
Suspension/Brakes: Late-model Corvette.
Proportioning Valve: Wilwood.
Differential: Late model Corvette (fully polished).
Wheels: 17x9 & 17x10 PS Engineering "Kidney Bean."
Gas Tank: Fuel cell.
Engine: 1963 415 CID 409.
Assembled By: HBR Competition Engines, Hollywood, FL.
Pistons: Venolia 10.3:1
Rings: Speed-Pro.
Bearings: Clevite 77.
Oil Pump: Mellings high volume.
Oil Pan: 7 quart capacity.
Camshaft: Lunati Roller 595/612.
Timing Chain: Crane Double Roller.
Engine Studs: ARP.
Heads: Ported & polished.
Valves: 2.19 & 1.72 stainless.
Valve Springs: Comp Cams dual.
Rocker Arms: Crane Roller.
Valve Covers: Chrome Factory.
Ignition: Billet MSD with 6A amplifier.
Headers: Bob Butler.
Radiator: Griffin aluminum.
Exhaust: Jet Hot-coated sidepipes.
Aircleaner: Custom with K&N filters.
Carburetors: 2 x 750 cfm Carter AFB.
Richmond 6-speed.
Shifter: Hurst.
Clutch: McLeod.
Bellhousing: Lakewood.
Driveshaft: Oceanside Driveline, Oceanside, CA.
Prep & Mods:
Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, Escondido, CA.
Paint: PPG Rally Orange by Tim's Paint & Body, Escondido, CA.
Cream-colored leather.
Creator: Ron Mangus, Custom Auto Interiors.
Instruments: Stewart-Warner "Wings."
Wiring: Painless Wiring.
Steering: ididit tilt with 3-spoke leather steering wheel.

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Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, 2324 Auto Park Way, Escondido, CA., 1-800-HOT-ROD-5.

Hot Rods & Custom Stuff - builds, restores, paints, services and sells parts for classic autos, cars, trucks and street rods.