How To Correctly Meld Corvette C4, C5, and C1 To Build Perfection

Finding the right car to restore, rebuild, or convert into a restomod can sometimes be a difficult proposition. Searching can involve a lot of computer time. If that doesn’t work out, it can take even more time as you drive through the options as you may find yourself even chasing some wild geese. However, sometimes they can be found exactly where you expect them to be. This is the case with Bob and Carrie Frampton’s Corvette C1.

A few years ago, the couple wanted to build what they felt was the perfect Corvette. But before work can begin, they need to find the right car to start the project. The pair have been attending Corvette shows in Carlisle for years, so it makes sense that our story begins with seeing the car enclosure at the 1998 Carlisle auto show.

“The car was in really bad shape – it was driveable, but barely,” said Bob. “It had a small block and four speeds in it, but it wasn’t part of the car’s original drivetrain. The car was painted white, and unbeknownst to him at the time, the coat of paint concealed much of the body damage.”

The interior of the Horizon Blue looks like a factory, but if you look closely, some restomod touches can be seen.

Over the weekend, Bob watched the car and saw the price actually drop on three occasions. The couple discussed the car amongst themselves but never pulled the trigger. On Sunday, the show ends, the opportunity passes, and the car leaves the show area with its then-owner. However, after thinking about lost opportunities for a few days, Bob decided to call the owner. After lengthy discussions, the Framptons traveled for three hours to give another look and test drive to the C1 Corvette. This time, they made a deal to buy a car.

From Driver To Demolition

As soon as Bob brought the car home to St. Marys, Pennsylvania, he loves to take her for an occasional tour of the city. Unfortunately, he soon realized how badly handled it was. Having acquired this newfound knowledge, he pulled the C1 into the garage to rebuild the suspension. With the suspension refresh finished, Bob wasn’t satisfied with the results of the OE-style rebuild. This prompted him to dismantle the Corvette and dig deeper. In fact, the decision was made to give it a complete makeover. That was in 2002.

This new beginning reveals some things that were not initially seen. In fact, many bad things were revealed. Once the paint was stripped, it quickly became apparent that there wasn’t a single panel that had not been damaged. Bob found evidence there had been a fire under the dashboard at one point and the passenger side firewall had been fixed with a piece of sheet metal. What’s more, eight out of ten body mount locations are faulty. Finally, the front and rear left-panel quarter wheel openings need serious attention.

Become Closer And Personal

Like many other fans, Bob is the kind of guy who likes to do his own thing, so he started by tackling bodywork in his garage. “New front parts of the body were installed, as were the driver and passenger side floor supports, inner and outer rocker panels, top firewall, and both body side panels,” he quipped. To say that there is a lot of bodywork to be done would be an understatement.

Corvette C1

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

“The hardest part of building this car was training myself to work with fiberglass and bonding adhesives,” says Bob. “This is my first experience doing bodywork on a fiberglass car. I learned it takes a lot of patience and prep work. It’s not like a car with a steel body where you attach the fender and adjust it to the shim. While the steel car is welded together, all of the non-removable Corvette body panels are glued together using a bonding adhesive. In other words, once you mix the hardener, you only have a short period of time to properly place the panels. Once the bonding adhesive hardens, the panels won’t go anywhere.”

After the fiberglass job was done, he had Bob Goetz cover the fine lines with retina-melting color from a 2006 Corvette Monterey Red and fill the coves with a 1972 Classic White.

Corvette C1 Meets Corvette C4

Before he could refit the rebuilt body into the frame, he knew the suspension system needed attention too. Although he had previously rebuilt it, the unsatisfactory results prompted a radical change. The basic upgrade started when the independent rear suspension (IRS) was taken from the 1985 Corvette and adjusted to fit the frame. He then replaced the front suspension with a Jim Meyer coilover setup that included a rack-and-pinion power steering system and power-assisted disc brakes. After several years of bodywork and chassis modifications, the two pieces have once again merged.

When you own a convertible — a Corvette or something — you really need to have the best interior. Let’s face it, out in the open for the whole world to criticize. To make sure the cockpit looks as good as the exterior, Bob assembled all the parts needed from the interior of the Al Knoch. The Horizon Blue skin definitely stands out and looks great in red. After all, this is a restomod, so Bob can 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 made by J&B Microfinish in Pontiac, Illinois,” says Bob.

Corvette C1

The wheels are reproduction C6 models measuring 17×8.5 at all four corners. Tires 245/45-17 made by Pirelli. His demeanor is perfect.

Wrapped Motivation

Every great restomod needs a great engine, and instead of the traditional small or big block, Bob opted to include the LS3 under the hood of his Corvette C1. Chevrolet Performance makes it easy by offering a 430-horsepower version that comes in a crate. The engine is reliable, uses the pump gas available, and will fit in almost any car. But Bob needs to install the frame to make the connection. Early Corvettes were known to have four-speed transmissions, however, behind the engine in this Corvette C1 was a five-speed Tremec with self-lined Hurst shifters.

Finally, in May 2011, the Corvette C1 once again came out of the Frampton garage on its own. That year, with the car finished, the Framptons took the finished Corvette back to Carlisle, even securing a spot in the 50th Anniversary tent. “The car came out beautifully, and my wife and I enjoyed driving it every chance we got.”

This Corvette C1 has been a labor of love and a test of Bob’s patience, but the end result shows it’s definitely worth the work. I’m told the pair have received several awards with their beautiful Corvette C1 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 to where it all started.

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