Mike & Linda Coletta's 1959 Corvette (from Volume 12, Issue 128)

While one of the trends with new American auto makers these days has been to make a brand new car look retro, for years hot rodders have been doing the exact opposite - take an old car and pack it full of late model equipment. Such is the case with this 1959 Corvette, which owners Mike and Linda Coletta of Minneola, Florida call the “Retro-Vette”.

However, this is not the passion that got Mike into classic cars. He’s restored many car in his life, and until about 4 years ago he was pretty much a “purist” when it came to Corvettes. Mike is an active member of the NCRS (National Corvette Restorers Society), and enjoys judging and hanging around with the “original” cars and their owners. Yet, about 4 years ago he bought a ‘61 Vette just for parts, and somewhere along the way decided to instead bring it back to life with the addition of late model equipment. Mike has now built 4 of these cars, and is really excited about the concept; old looks - new car!

When Mike purchased the ‘59 Corvette seen here it was too far gone to be restored back to its original glory. There was no engine or transmission, and something (presumably a tree) had fallen across the front of the car. Most of the parts were missing, rusty, or otherwise not very good. So he replaced the nose of the car with new fiberglass from Ecklers Corvettes in Titusville. The entire body was stripped and finished with new PPG base coat/clear coat 2004 Viper Red paint, including the underside of the car and the engine bay. A set of 2002 Corvette 5-spoke rims help hint at the other updates you’ll discover throughout the car.

Underneath you’ll now find a two rail box tube custom frame which was built by Corvette Correction in Sequin, Texas. It utilizes ‘95 Corvette suspension with transverse springs in the front and rear, and 4-wheel power disc brakes all around. Upon opening the power lift electric hood you’ll find that residing beneath is a GM crate 350 Chevy engine wearing a Vintage Air serpentine “frontrunner” system. The package puts out 350 horses, and is mated to a 700R4 overdrive automatic built by Fourth Gear in Apopka, Florida.

Inside the original looks were preserved with a stock ‘59 Corvette pattern using ‘57 Corvette “shoreline beige” vinyl and carpet. However, the tachometer and amp gauges have been converted to modern gauge/sender combinations, while still utilizing the stock faces. The convertible top is made from black late model Corvette fabric, instead of the old vinyl. Other updates have included the use of late model Corvette rack and pinion power steering, power windows, 3-speed intermittent gear driven wipers, cruise control, and a 10 disc CD changer with a 1,000 watt amp and sub woofer.

Mike built the car himself, including the paint and bodywork, wiring, interior, glass, and all the miscellaneous gadgets. It now runs and drives like a new car, while retaining its “original” style. Plus, Mike told us he feels that there really is nothing like tuning in a little Beach Boys music on the CD changer, firing up the air conditioning, and cruising wherever....all with the ride of today’s technology and the looks of the years gone by. That sounds like a good time to us, too! CN