How To Properly Meld A C4, C5, And C1 Corvette To Build Perfection

Finding the right car to restore, rebuild, or turn into a restomod can sometimes be a tough proposition. The search can involve a lot of time on the computer. If that doesn’t end up being fruitful, it can even consume more time having you drive to look at various options as you can find yourself even chasing multiple wild geese so-to-speak. However, sometimes they can be found right where you expect them to be located. Such is the case with this C1 Corvette, owned by Bob and Carrie Frampton.

Several years ago, the couple was looking to build what they felt to be the perfect Corvette. But before any work could start, they needed to find the right car to begin the project. The couple has been attending the Corvettes at Carlisle show for years, so it stands to reason our story starts by looking in the car corral at the 1998 Carlisle car show.

“The car was in very poor condition — it was drivable, but barely,” says Bob. “It had a small block and a four-speed in it, but no parts of the drivetrain were original to the car. The car was painted white, and unbeknownst at the time, that coating of paint hid a lot of body damage.”

C1 Corvette

The Horizon Blue interior looks factory, but if you look closely, a few restomod touches can be seen.

Throughout the weekend, Bob kept tabs on the car and watched the price actually drop on three occasions. The couple discussed the car amongst themselves but never pulled the trigger. On Sunday, the show ended, the opportunity passed, and the car left the fairgrounds with the then-current owner. However, after dwelling on the missed opportunity for a few days, Bob decided to call the owner. After a long discussion, the Frampton couple traveled three hours to give the C1 Corvette another look and a test drive. This time, they made a deal to buy the car.

From Driver To Teardown

Once Bob got the car home to St. Marys, Pennsylvania, he enjoyed taking it for the occasional drive around town. Unfortunately, he soon realized how poorly it actually handled. After acquiring this newly found knowledge, he pulled the C1 into the garage for a suspension rebuild. With the refreshed suspension completed, Bob was not satisfied with the outcome of the OE-style rebuild. This prompted him to take the Corvette apart and dig a little deeper. In fact, the decision was made to give it a complete makeover. That was in n 2002.

This new beginning revealed some things that were not noticeable at first. In fact, a lot of bad things came to light. After the paint was stripped, it quickly became apparent there was not a single panel that didn’t have some sort of damage to it. Bob found evidence there had been a fire under the dash at one point and the passenger-side firewall had been poorly repaired with a piece of sheetmetal. What’s more, eight of the ten body mount locations were damaged. Finally, the front and rear of the left quarter-panel wheel opening needed some serious attention.

Getting Up Close And Personal

Like many enthusiasts, Bob is a do-it-yourself kind of a guy, so he began by handling the bodywork in his home garage. “A new front portion of the body was installed, as were both driver and passenger-side floor supports, inner and outer rocker panels, upper firewall, and both body-side panels,” he quips. To say that’s a lot of bodywork to perform would be an understatement.

C1 Corvette

The LS3 is a great engine and helps make this C1 Corvette a great driver.

“The toughest part of building this car was teaching myself to work with fiberglass and bonding adhesive,” Bob states. “This was my first experience with doing bodywork on a fiberglass car. I learned it requires a lot of patience and prep work. It’s not like a steel-body car where you bolt on a fender and adjust the fit with shims. While a steel car is welded together, all Corvette non-removable body panels are glued together using a bonding adhesive. In other words, once you mix in the hardener, you only have a short timeframe to get the panel placed just right. Once the bonding adhesive hardens, that panel isn’t going anywhere.”

Once the fiberglass work was complete, he had Bob Goetz cover the smooth lines with a retina-melting shade of 2006 Corvette Monterey Red and fill in the coves with 1972 Classic White.

C1 Corvette Meets C4 Corvette

Before he could place the rebuilt tub back onto the frame, he knew the suspension system also needed some attention. Although he previously rebuilt it, the unsatisfactory result prompted radical changes. The foundational upgrades started when an independent rear suspension (IRS) was taken from a 1985 Corvette and adapted to fit the frame. He then replaced the front suspension with a Jim Meyer coilover setup that includes a power rack-and-pinion steering system and power-assisted disc brakes. After several years of bodywork and chassis mods, the two parts were once again joined.

When you own a convertible — Corvette or otherwise — you really need to have a top-notch interior. Let’s face it, it’s out in the open for the whole world to critique. To make sure the cockpit looked as great as the exterior, Bob gathered all the needed parts from Al Knoch interiors. The Horizon Blue leather definitely stands out and looks great against the red. This is a restomod after all, so Bob was able to take some liberties during the build process. “The center console panel that houses the Kenwood radio, clock, and A/C controls was designed by me and fabbed by J&B Microfinish in Pontiac, Illinois,” Bob states.

C1 Corvette

The wheels are reproduction C6 models measuring 17×8.5 on all four corners. The 245/45-17 tires are by Pirelli. The stance is perfect.

Crated Motivation

Every great restomod needs a great engine, and instead of the traditional small- or big-block, Bob chose to slide an LS3 under the hood of his C1 Corvette. Chevrolet Performance makes this easy by offering a 430-horsepower version that comes in a crate. The engine is reliable, runs on readily available pump gas, and will fit in nearly any car. Bob did however need to fab-up frame mounts to make the connection. Early Corvettes are known for having four-speed transmissions, however, behind the engine in this C1 Corvette is a Tremec five-speed with a row-your-own Hurst shifter.

Finally, in May of 2011, the C1 Corvette once again drove out of the Frampton garage under its own power. That year, with the car completed, the Frampton couple took the finished Corvette back to Carlisle, even securing a spot in the 50th Anniversary tent. “The car came out beautiful, and my wife and I enjoy driving it every chance we get.”

Photo gallery

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This C1 Corvette has been a labor of love and a test of Bob’s patience, but the end result shows it was definitely worth the work. I am told the couple has picked up several awards with their gorgeous C1 Corvette since its completion. As a testament to finding that perfect project, each year they return to Carlisle where their custom C1 is brought full circle — back where it all started.

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
Read My Articles

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