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Old 06-26-2005, 09:56 PM   #1
Woozster
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Default C1-C4 Conversion

I am a newbie to the classic Corvette restoration world, but I have recently been introduced to the C4 conversion concept. I am interested in the '59-'60 Corvette style but have been put off by the way it drives (I am looking for a driver, not a show-car). I have been speaking with Richard Lagasse about the subject of C4 conversions and he has been a tremendous help. I was wondering if the Corvette community could give me some advice and information about their knowledge of restoring and investing into this type of vehicle.

Thanks!
Matt Woosley
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Old 06-26-2005, 11:00 PM   #2
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Only time will determine the investment worth. I think most people building these cars do it because they like the look of the old but want the dependability and ride/drive of the newer cars. I'm doing one because I always wanted to. I've had investment cars. Now I'll have a FUN car.
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Old 06-26-2005, 11:07 PM   #3
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Default i'm sure others will give you more info but

While you are waiting you should look at the site for art morrison. They have JUST put out their max G frame for their 1960 vette fits 53-62.. the info is just coming out about it but they did the same idea on a 55 chevy with a bill mitchell 427 and it ran a 12.6 in the 1/4 and pulled less then 1 G ... on the other hand is your frame in bad shape if not look at jim meyer racing for their bolt/weld in trick front end that some have said makes it drive like a new car but it's not c-4 stuff but I understand is tough and built well..tci,progressive both make weld in front end c-4 stuff for the 53-62...

If you have not bought the car yet but are just looking into it... the 58-60 should make a great hot-rod due to it's great lines and rear
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Old 06-26-2005, 11:23 PM   #4
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Matt,
Ther are so many different ways to go that you really have to do a lot of looking around to decide which way you want to go. The first decision is the chassis. There are people who will modify your existing chassis to accept C4 suspension ( like Car Creations), and there are people who will make complete a new chassis already built to accept the suspension, ( like SRIII motorsports, Corvette Correction, and Art Morrison). I think the best value is a complete new chassis, and can strongly reccomend SRIII and Billy Dawson at Corvette Correction both.
Billy builds a strong rectangular tubing Chassis that uses the original fibergalss leaf front and rear, while Mike Stockdale uses a round tubing, space-frame design that uses coil-over suspension on all four corners.
Billy's chassis is a little less expensive to build, and Mike's gives a little more WOW factor, with a little more work to complete. Both chassis will accept almost any engine you can think of including Smallblock, bigblock, LT, and LS style engines. I used an LS1 engine in my 59 and have become a fanatic fan of LS engines. Once again, a little more work is necessary to use the LS engine due to the computer and wiring harness, but it sure makes a nice drivetrain. You will also need to decide which C4 rear you are going to use. If you are using an automatic trans and are keeping the horsepower below about 350, then the Dana 36 will be fine, but if you are planning on a manual trans, or horespower above 375, then You should probably use the stronger Dana 44. The newer design at SRIII uses C5 front suspension, and I would reccomend that option if you go with them. The C5 front suspension will give you over 4 more inches of space between the frame rails to allow more options on accessory placement.
These cars are not particularly inexpensive to build, and if you farm out most of the work, it is real easy to get $80K-100K invested in one, more if you really go crazy on the chrome and goodies. That being said, you still can put together one for $40-50K if you do a lot of the work yourself and hunt for bargains. Plan on spending $20K for a basket-case car to start with, another $6K for a chassis, $3K for front and rear suspension, $4K for a nice slavage engine and trans. Then you will have driveshaft, coilover shocks, tires and wheels, brake booster and lines, upholstery, paint, ect, ect., you get the idea. I am not trying to discourage you from building one, just be aware of the costs going in. There is nothing more sad than a project like this that has been sitting for years due to lack of money, I see them all the time.
I love these hybrids almost as much as I love original restored Vettes, and they are a lot more enjoyable to drive long distances in. I have a 59, have just started on a 65 convertible, and am already looking at another project 67 coupe.

Regards, John McGraw
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Old 06-27-2005, 08:52 AM   #5
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Default forgot to mention

Pick up July 2005 of corvette enthusiast magazine..just so happens they have a 1960 vette on the cover that was re-done by a civl engineering tech and writer for Musclecaar enthusiast named Ronnie Stuart.. the cover features a red 1960 with a Weiand Blower on top a 383 with posi 3.73 rear.
He used a Jim meyer racing front end with lakewood traction bars and the orginal 10 bolt i think..with the drums in the back... and rack and pinion and disc up front with tube type a arm coil over suspension...paint was base coat/clear coat..

I don't know the cost but he bought a "running basket case" i guess with a good frame so the major expenses were the Meyer front end, engine, paint, then re-building the 10 bolt with traction bars.. probably much less expensive then full blown c-4 frame .. but you will need a car with a good frame
Just another thought.. that happens to be in a magazine this month
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Old 06-27-2005, 11:28 AM   #6
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Woozster,

You've come to the right place. IMO, Rich Lagasse is the "most valuable player" in the Corvette community when it comes to advice and professional Corvette upgrades/modifications/modernization.

I also echo John McGraw's comments below. IMO it's probably the coolest thing you can do (upgrading your old vette), but the costs he mentioned are realistic (I'm almost done with paint and still have interior and final details to do and I'm already into the high side of what he mentioned).
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Old 06-27-2005, 12:55 PM   #7
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These cars are great. They ride and drive like new cars and stand apart from others. They also make a real statement and demand attention. In my opinion they are the futur, A street rod with a vette body.

www.pugesekmotorsports.com
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Old 06-27-2005, 01:10 PM   #8
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OR Vette,

I am sorry you had to spend so much on your project, But I sure have enjoyed following your progress through your posts and photos. For those of us not yet ready either financially or emotionally for a project like yours it gives us a chance to feel a little part of it through you.

Thanks
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Old 06-27-2005, 02:20 PM   #9
Woozster
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Default C4 conversion

Thanks for the information. Rich Lagasse has been very helpful and generous with his time and knowledge.

I was hoping to spend about $60,000 on a '60 Vette driver with C4 suspension/engine/transmission/brakes/steering. Although I'm willing and able to do the work, I'm not very knowledgeable and experienced. With this in mind, I am starting to discover that this project would probably take much more money. However, maybe the Corvette community could assist me in finding the correct components to making this happen for my budget.

If you guys here of a good project car for me, I'd love to hear about it. I have a long process of education ahead of me and I appreciate all the advice/suggestions.

Matt
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Old 06-27-2005, 11:05 PM   #10
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It all depends on what YOU want. My car isn't in the same class appearance wise as the others but it functions fine. as a matter of fact I just got back from a 2000 mile trip to Bloomington. I love looking at the others cars and wish I had the talent and money to do one like it someday, but I don't so I make due with what I've got.

You could build this car for 60k easy if you do not have to have everything billet,chromed, polished, painted, or clear coated, and can live with a carbed small block Chevy and a 5spd. My car still uses a mechanical fuel pump and SRIII built the frame so I could use the original clutch linkage. I also have original gauges and interior

You can buy a nice 56-62 NOM for 35-40k This takes care of paint, chrome, interior, engine, trans, etc. expense

The frame and bits and pieces to finish can be had for <15k

You should be able to recoup 2500-7500K for the original parts you don't use.

You should be able to find a Vette shop to do the Conversion for 5k and if you can't get it my house and I'll help you. It might not be pretty but it will be functional.

JMHO and no direspect to the others.
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:02 AM   #11
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Bob is exactly right. You can pretty easily put together one for less than $60K as long as you don't let specfication creep set in! I really did not set out to build as detailed a car as I did, but just couldn't help myself once I started! Don't underestimate the value of performing all your own work either. I have a shade under $60K in my car, but I do everything on the car myself. I also am a hopeless bargain seeker, and really shaved some money off on a lot of the parts that I needed by waiting until a good buy came around. Don't believe Bob when he downplays his car, it is still a beautiful piece of work!


Regards, John McGraw
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:36 AM   #12
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I agree Bobs car is a nice piece.

www.pugesekmotorsports.com
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:38 AM   #13
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I also enjoyed meeting him at Bloomington. Its nice to put a face to the car.
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:11 AM   #14
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My SRIII chassis is all done and ready to ship home.I have almost all the parts here already to complete the car. My 60 started out as just a body. So I had to buy many small hard to find parts. With a 92 LT1 auto. AC, power windows and locks, the car looks like it will come in around 45000.00. Thats with me doing all the work. It will be a very fine detailed car. But it is an exsensive car to build. As said above if you could buy a nice car to start with and just do the chassis change that makes much more sense than the way I did this. Even if you buy a project car to start with. Buy the most complete car you can. Just the conv.top bows and windshield frame are big bucks. And there is alot of chrome to have done . But it will all be worth having the same car my dad had but be comfy to drive. I'm building this car in my dads memory. So this has a little more meaning than all my other cars. Brian G.
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Old 06-28-2005, 09:01 AM   #15
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Another cost factor to consider is that many of the "old" parts are bringing good prices from the NCRS restorers. I bought a 59 several years ago for a conversion project and sold the rolling frame for more than the cost of a C4 suspension ready new frame. Have you checked the price for C1 seats and frames on ebay - more than enough to pay for a set of Wise Guy C1 replacement seats. Of course all of this assumes a reasonably good car to start with.

For what it's worth, I would asvise you to start with a new frame and forget about modifying an old frame to accept a new suspension. You can never tell what these old frames have been through or the condition on the inside. For the amount of work and expense (if you pay for someone else to do the work) involved the new frame will be far superior.

I have created a web site that might be of interest as it has links to many of the conversion frame suppliers: http://www.carols62.com

Charles
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Old 06-28-2005, 10:42 AM   #16
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I apologize for interrupting and I certainly do not want to Hi jack this post but with guys like John McGraw, OR Vette, vette rod and Duntov-097 all reading and posting to this thread I hoped to get some insight on what you guys are using for air conditioning in your modern classics? Since you were customizing and improving and not necessarily worrying about it being stock what brand did you use? Did you use modern servo controls or stick with the older cable style. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 06-28-2005, 11:30 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbernhardt
Another cost factor to consider is that many of the "old" parts are bringing good prices from the NCRS restorers. I bought a 59 several years ago for a conversion project and sold the rolling frame for more than the cost of a C4 suspension ready new frame. Have you checked the price for C1 seats and frames on ebay - more than enough to pay for a set of Wise Guy C1 replacement seats. Of course all of this assumes a reasonably good car to start with.

For what it's worth, I would asvise you to start with a new frame and forget about modifying an old frame to accept a new suspension. You can never tell what these old frames have been through or the condition on the inside. For the amount of work and expense (if you pay for someone else to do the work) involved the new frame will be far superior.

I have created a web site that might be of interest as it has links to many of the conversion frame suppliers: http://www.carols62.com

Charles

For these reasons is why I prefer a aftermarket body. These cars are following the street rod craze and look where they are at. But for a novice I guess a bolt on type deal is the way to go.

www.pugesekmotorsports.com

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Old 06-28-2005, 11:35 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 62forlife
I apologize for interrupting and I certainly do not want to Hi jack this post but with guys like John McGraw, OR Vette, vette rod and Duntov-097 all reading and posting to this thread I hoped to get some insight on what you guys are using for air conditioning in your modern classics? Since you were customizing and improving and not necessarily worrying about it being stock what brand did you use? Did you use modern servo controls or stick with the older cable style. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
It depends on how the car is getting done. I like the Vintage air deal but I also like to retro fit the GM set ups. I also prefer to build my own drives and brackets to hold the accesories on the engine such as the ac compressor. This gives you complete control of how to lay the system out to achieve perfect results in functio and looks.
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Old 06-28-2005, 03:35 PM   #19
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Okay, well your comments are very encouraging. I really don't want to go through the process of finding all of the original bits and pieces, so buying a complete car to modify seems like the most sense. I have seen a good '62 with a strong engine for around $35. I could get a SRIII chassis and C4 suspension for $12000. But I would REALLY like to have power steering and A/C. It seems I could get all that for $60k but I just don't have access to tools and equipment. What do you guys think?
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Old 06-28-2005, 04:03 PM   #20
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Default Future Project?

What do you guys think about this vehicle as a starting point? It is said to have a solid frame, good chrome and stainless, no-hit body. Probably the only salvageable items would be the frame, body, chrome, interior, hardtop and glass. Would this be a smart project for a C4 conversion and what is it WORTH?

Matt
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Old 06-28-2005, 04:03 PM
 
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