Cadillac Escalada Pearl
Blue
LS1 V8
4 Speed Automatic

Purists, I'm going to ask you to avert your eyes right now, because this '64 Corvette roadster is the kind of car that gets guys at car shows into heated discussions over the merits of restoration versus modification. But when they're as well-done and beautifully executed as this one, which also features Corvette parts wherever possible, I think it's pretty hard to argue that it isn't simply spectacular. No rare and irreplaceable Corvettes were harmed in the construction of this killer custom. Besides, does the world really need another garden-variety C2 roadster with a non-numbers-matching engine and automatic transmission?

Now before you dash off that angry E-mail telling me that every Corvette needs to be restored to factory new condition, look again at this one. Yes, that's a Corvette-spec LS1 under the hood. Climb underneath and dig the ZR-1 suspension and brakes at all four corners, and a Dana 44 out back. There's an awful lot of Corvette DNA under the fiberglass skin of this one, which is what I think the builder was shooting for. Who can blame him for wanting a car as gorgeous as a '64 roadster with the performance and handling of a much newer piece? Certainly not me, because I think this is an awfully cool car.

One thing I think nobody will argue is that the early Sting Rays were absolutely beautiful cars. Well-proportioned and muscular, it's one of the most iconic shapes ever created. Fortunately, the builder of this roadster left it alone and simply gave it a show-quality body and paint upgrade. No big flares or questionable repairs, but instead a concours-quality job under white pearl paint with a vintage-looking stinger on the hood that extends to the rear deck (more on that in a moment). Sharp-eyed viewers will, of course, notice that there are now three taillights per side instead of the original two, which has always been a popular modification on these cars. The paint is Cadillac Escalade White Pearl (hey, they tried to keep it in the General Motors family) that was applied over fiberglass that's going to be just too perfect for the judges at Bloomington Gold. Deep and rich, it has clearly been rubbed and buffed, and has probably never seen anything rougher than a microfiber cloth. And then there's that stinger, which follows the original outline and contours, but has been given a very cool airbrushed flame pattern like Mike Lavalees “True Flames.” The effect is remarkable, and you'll spend a good amount of time walking around this car admiring the way the light plays off the metallic and pearls in the paint. This is the kind of car that makes people stop and say, “Wow.”

All the chrome is obviously new, and the stainless has been properly restored. Again no questionable modifications, and a lot more restoration went into this car than you might think at first glance. Then you notice cool details like the “Fuel Injection” badges on the fenders and the beautifully fitted convertible top. Lenses are excellent reproductions all around, and the glass is very nice with no issues. All the original emblems and badges, and even the flip-up gas cap, have been preserved. Everything that was great about the 1964 Corvette is still intact on this car, I assure you.

A vast majority of the modifications were made under the fiberglass skin, and are probably best appreciated from behind the wheel, although the workmanship is very, very good. The engine is a late model LS1 from a Corvette, transplanted fully intact from this cars C5 descendant into the white engine bay. Mostly stock, it does feature a cast aluminum intake from Weiand, which replaces the homely plastic factory unit. Long tube headers dump into killer-sounding side pipes and it retains that unique LS1 sound that reminds me of ripping silk at full throttle. Detailing in the engine bay is very nice, and you've undoubtedly already noticed that there are more blue flames on the coil covers. A polished throttle body lives up front, and the dual master cylinder and booster have been chrome plated for a little extra flash. This car starts and runs like a new Corvette, with fuel injected reliability and economy that you could never extract from a carbureted 327. Kudos to the builders for retaining as much of the OEM running gear and ancillary pieces as possible, from the cooling fan, to the accessory drive, to the heater hoses. Not only does it make this car as reliable as a new car, but it's also just as easy to service at virtually and dealership in the world. Nice!

Underneath, you'll find a Tray Waldon Street Shop chassis made from 2x4 rectangular steel tubing, which is not only stronger than the original, but lighter. If you're familiar with Trays work, you know that this frame is designed to accommodate an original body with no modifications, preserving the vintage fiberglass while allowing the installation of late-model C4 Corvette suspension components. In the case of this car, the fully independent suspension comes from the King of the Hill ZR-1, including a durable Dana 44 rear pumpkin. There are massive disc brakes at all four corners, and AQ1 adjustable coil-over shocks have replaced the venerable transvers fiberglass leaf springs for handling precision that just can't be matched by vintage pieces. Modern rack and pinion steering has been added, and it's fed by the C5 power steering pump mounted on the engine in the original location, making this car incredibly easy to drive. Front and rear sway bars complete the suspension modifications and make this 46-year-old feel like a teenager. The transmission is a heavy duty 4L80E 4-speed automatic that's more than capable of handling the LS1's power output, and snaps through the gears with enough authority to chrip the tires. A new fuel tank hangs out back, and the new frame accommodates the original mounts for the front and rear bumpers. Wheels are from Budnik and Goodyear supplied the rubber.

From the driver's seat, you'd be hard-pressed to find the modifications. The seats are original pieces covered in reproduction seat covers. New carpets match the original weave and the steering wheel appears to be an original piece that has been wrapped with leather. The original console has more blue flames, and houses a cool shifter for the transmission, as well as switches for the power windows. Controls for the over-powered stereo system are discreetly tucked at the bottom of the center stack. Speaking of the entertainment system, the builders really went all-out here. It features a 1000 watt Rockford-Fosgate Power Punch stereo with P3 subwoofers built into their own molded fiberglass housings in the trunk. There's also a Rockford-Fosgate amplifier back there, along with a pair of heavy duty Optima batteries, a CD changer, and a bass regulator, all tied together with 4 gauge wiring. If the side pipes aren't enough, this system will pretty much guarantee that folks hear you coming. Take another look at the photos of the trunk this is an incredibly sanitary professional installation.

This car was also a featured car in the Motor Trend International Auto Show Special Collection in 2008.

So you've read this far surely you can't still be upset about the modifications to this Corvette, can you? It's fast, powerful, beautiful, and performs like a 2010 Corvette should. The things that made the early cars so great are still intact, from the shape of the body to the cool Corvette script emblems, and it puts a unique twist on some of the most iconic features. The workmanship is first-rate throughout, and it's a highly drivable car that will provide years and years of driving enjoyment. Show car looks and daily driver reliability? Do you have any idea how rare that really is? If the idea of a Corvette that runs as great as it looks doesn't offend you, then we have your car. Call today!

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