When it comes to Corvettes, you can’t go wrong with the classic C1 body style, especially if you ask Corvette owner Dick Brazzell from Arvada, Colorado. This enthusiast has owned a couple Vettes in his time but always favored the 1959-1960 first-gens. Of course, there are arguments to be had on either side of the spectrum when it comes to which Corvette generation is the best, but Brazzell’s show car certainly makes quite the case for the C1, finished with exquisite detail and glowing with personality. Can you blame us for wanting to know more about this fantastic classic?
I’ve been into cars since the age of 15 when my sister and brother-in-law let me drive their ‘49 Pontiac convertible. - Dick Brazzell
We first came across Brazzell’s Corvette at the Goodguys 15th Colorado Nationals in June of 2012. It was an instant eye-catcher sitting among hot rods, street rods and the sort on the grounds of The Ranch complex. So we were more than excited to see the car again at the Super Chevy Show at Bandimere Speedway in August and talk to the man behind this classic machine.
Teenage Dreams Fulfilled
Surprisingly, it wasn’t a Corvette that got Brazzell’s automotive enthusiasm rolling. In fact, the Corvette didn’t even exist when Brazzell fell in love with cars. “I’ve been into cars since the age of 15 when my sister and brother-in-law let me drive their ‘49 Pontiac convertible with dual packs,” Brazzell told us. “I’ve been into cars ever since. Have owned hundreds, from a ‘32 Ford, etc.” In addition to his fine C1 Corvette, Brazzell also owns both a red ‘49 and a black and silver ‘50 Chevy Fleetwood fastbacks. But that’s a whole different ball game, so back to the Corvette.
Flipping through, we found photo after photo of the immense project, which Brazzell happily told us he played a major part in before taking it to its first show in 2006 – none other than the Goodguys Colorado Nationals, where he took home a Fab 5 Award.
Like Nostalgia, but Better
The first step to creating the classic Corvette with unique twists was the body work. With the help of Alan Bonk, also of Arvada, Brazzell worked diligently to get the Corvette’s body back to factory specifications, having it media blasted and spending countless hours to line everything up perfectly on the car’s new silver powder-coated SRIII Motorsports custom tube chassis. A complete resto-mod, this Corvette now looks better than original with body panels fitting better than anything that came out of the factory in the early Corvette days, sporting many finishing chrome touches.
Although Brazzell was going for that classic factory C1 look, he decided to do something a bit different with the drivetrain and running gear for the car. Instead of going with the obvious, Brazzell chose a 350ci LT1, 4L60E automatic transmission, and running gear from a 1995 Corvette to give his car some more modern performance.
“I liked the way everything with the ‘60 body and ‘95 running gear was a basic bolt-on situation,” Brazzell told us. “The only body modification was in the trunk area for the ‘95 rearend clearance.”
The more modern Corvette engine was then fitted with S&S shorty headers as well as a custom ceramic-coated exhaust system. Once put together, the engine, transmission and rearend were painted silver before being slipped into the C1.
“My favorite part of the car is the tube chassis and the ease of everything bolting on,” Brazzell said. “It handles like a go-kart.” With modern technology, 300 horsepower and 340 pound feet of torque on demand, we have no doubt about that.
Color Us Impressed
While we love that Brazzell went a bit different with his C1 build than anything we’ve seen before (although he told us if he had to do it over again, he’d probably use an LS engine), it’s the exquisite paint job and color combination that really make this car an eye catcher.
Finished in Dupont Hot Hues Cinnamon with coves painted in Toyota Gold Dust, this Corvette radiates personality. Brazzell’s friend Bonk lent his handiwork to this part of the project as well, spraying the car and finishing it off with six coats of clear coat and buffing the car to a mirror finish. Adding to the C1’s look is a fully custom Burnt Cinnamon leather interior done by Ed Baines of Littleton, Colorado topped off with Dakota Digital dash gauges, a compass and outside temperature gauge installed by Don Gacetta of Arvada, as well as heating and cooling from Vintage Air.
Behind Every Great Show Car is a Tolerant Spouse
Brazzell’s Corvette is a magnificent piece of artwork and you’d be hard pressed to find a cleaner resto-mod. In addition to all of Brazzell and Bonk’s work, the crisp C1 also comes thanks to Brazzell’s wife Brenda who he wanted to give special thanks to “for all the hours I spent in the garage working on this,” he told us.
There may have been hundreds of hours put into the car, but we have a feeling it was worth every minute as Brazzell and Brenda plan on driving the car and continuing to enjoy it for years to come.