Found Under The Barn: 1958 Corvette

Famously and not far from here, a cyclone dropped a house on an old lady. This ol’ gal had very nearly the same experience… One minute you’re resting in the barn and the next thing you know, a tree falls on the roof and brings the building down on you. Welcome to Kansas! Welcome to Tornado Alley! This quad-lamped fighter survived that attack mostly intact. I spoke with the seller, a very nice guy and he told me the known history of the car. You can talk with him, too; there’s a phone number in the listing here on eBay. Additional photos are available, like, sixty or so. What you see is what you get, and there is almost nothing you won’t be able to see…bid with confidence, as they say.

Ouch! Here’s where the tree/barn combo thwacked this puppy on the nose. But you know, this isn’t the worst thing to ever happen to a fiberglass body, is it? It looks eminently repairable. You’ll need to find some front-end pieces, like the valance from beneath the grille, three headlight trim rings, etc. The seller and the photos testify that the metal substructure is undamaged and look the hood escaped injury, too, whichistotallyawesome because 1958 was the first (and last) year of the louvered hood.

Now, you’ll want to know this… under the undamaged hood is… nothing. It seems that the car was in the barn in the first place to undergo a little rebuilding, sometime in the early ’70s. The first thing to come out? Engine and transmission, wouldn’t you know, and no one knows what it was or where it is. Barn was searched. Yard was searched. Memories were searched. Gone, baby, gone. So, turning lemons into lemonade, you can drop anything in there you have a mind to… it was, of course, a small-block 283, but what would be wrong about a nicely built 327? You may also want to find a four-speed to go with that, since this car was equipped with a manual transmission to begin with. Elsewhere, the original rear end, brakes and suspension pieces are all original and still in place.

1958 was a pretty big turning point for the Corvette, with a completely new look on the exterior. The interior, too, found itself cast in a whole new light. Chevrolet decided to get serious about Corvette instrumentation in ’58 and so ganged the gauges (which had been stretched out across its width in earlier years) in front of the driver. Dead center was the tachometer. Judging from the photos, this interior looks pretty much complete, right down to the window cranks. That’s gonna save someone a whole lotta time. Semi-interestingly, 1958 was the first year for factory-installed seat belts.

Out back; all good. Note the 1971 Kansas plate.

The seller has the missing trim from this side, along with a few extra parts and pieces, including a rebuilt radiator. Some schmoes apparently thought the ’58 was overdone in the chrome department, but not me, boy. I like it plenty fine…I mean, they dropped the number of teeth in the grill from thirteen to nine…come on! Crossed flags, blood trough, fender spears; love it!

Image Courtesy of Pinterest

Now, I gotta tell you, although all the C1 Corvettes (1953-1962) are so stylish, these five years, ’58 through ’62 are my personal favorite. My therapist says Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s art piece from ’65 (oh, yes; I collected those stickers) of a crazy-eyed escapee in a wild flame-throwing, four-speed, four-eyed Corvette must have warped my 5-year-old brain in a big way, because that’s the Corvette, to me. Anybody else with me on this?

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Comments

  1. DRV

    I’m with you on it!
    This is a good car to make a driver if it’s $15k because it will need $25k to get it there.
    It’s my personal favorite year because of its styling indulgence.

  2. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    Nice writeup Karl.

    Good that it has the washboard hood, a pretty rare original 1-year-only item. It looks like the engine bay and suspension might have received some attention in the form of black paint at one time, but it needs everything.

    If it’s a 230 HP, the SCM Guide says the recent median auction sale numbers have been around $75K. Maybe someone can buy it and bring it back for less than that figure, but if it were me I would want me to have good ‘glas skills and also some parts in the back of the garage starting with a proper engine, etc, etc.

    Already bid to $18K+, with 28 bids, so there’s lots of interest.

    • Karl

      Thank you, my friend!

      • Doug

        Karl we have this car and it will be going to the SEMA SHOW this year. Started a page on Facebook Ask me about number 20. You follow along as we do this build. New power plant and transmission. New frame and everything that goes with it. The seller went back to the barn but the lady wouldn’t let them in. That’s why we went a different direction.

  3. Peter Brookes-Tee

    You lucky people over “the pond”. And that advert – imagine that style for an MG TF, on this side of “the pond” there would have been much wailing and gnashing of teeth !.

  4. Jay M

    So I wonder if insurance paid out for this damaged car?
    Salvage title?
    I guess I’m old now, but I have a hard time believing that a damaged car, missing it’s original driveline, clearly in need of a nut& bolt resto is worth anywhere close to this asking price.
    It will never be original again, and will take cubic dollar’s to restore.

    • Dogfather

      I’m with you. A beat up body with no drivetrain that needs every thing is not worth 18K to me.

  5. Patrick

    Agree with Dolphin…nice write up Karl! The other unique item to the ’58 Vette are the two chrome strips that run length wise down the trunk lid. These are gone as are the small, round reflectors that mount above the rear bumper exhaust cut outs. Stuff that is available, yes, but will need to be taken into consideration to a potential buyer. Neat car! We have had a ’58 since 1980…..dual quad, 270 horse, 4 speed in signet red with the white cove. Dad said he will be buried in it!

    • Karl

      Patrick, you sound like a guy who knows ’58 Corvettes. Love that picture of your dad’s casket…what a beaut! With eight barrels and four forward, he’ll get to the Pearly Gates before Death knows he’s gone!

      (P.S. Those trim pieces MIGHT and hopefully are in the miscellaneous parts the seller mentioned…)

      • Patrick

        Karl, THANKS! Yup, that car made a strong impression on me as a 13 year old in 1980 that still stands today. It definitely kick started what has been a life long love affair with cars of all types. I’ll never forget the day he told me to “open it up” on the highway for the first time. I’d swear I saw 130 but with the way the speedometer needle bounces all over it was probably more like 90 lol. Agreed sir, I hope for the buyers sake that the missing trim is what he mentions in the advert.

  6. Andre

    Nice starting point ..to note the trunk isn’t correct for a ’58.. they had parallel chrome spears. Like the louvered hood, a 1-year-only body feature of the ’58.

    • Andre

      Looks like Patrick beat me to it!

  7. Dogfather

    18 grand for a beat up body? If the engine and transmission we’re included,it would be a worthwhile project. I would not pay over $12K for this project car

    • Andre

      If it had a numbers driveline it would be well over $18k. No engine or trans, in my opinion, equates to the same value and a NOM generic SBC setup. — negligible to the value of the car should it be solid and with a title.

  8. Adam

    They were not stamping frame numbers on blocks in ’58 so if the casting dates were appropriate you could conceivably drop in another motor and it would be indestinquishable from original I think.

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  9. Maestro1

    Thank you Karl, I usually pass on Corvettes but this year, 1957, and mid sixties are very attractive cars. An eyeball restoration to good driver status would be about $35,000.00. Even at that you would be slightly below Market at an auction,
    where herd mentality rules along with more money than brains. Acquisition price is too high. If you have the foresight buy it, spend the money and watch for future appreciation once we get past the next Crash.

  10. Tort Member

    It amazes me how these old Corvettes still keep turning up hidden in barns and garages. With the work needed to be done update engine, brakes, etc. but bring the body back to original. Had a 57, 58, 60 and a 62 back in the day. The 58 was my least favorite because I didn’t like the loovers or the chrome on the trunk and apparently GM didn’t either. Today I would take a 58 in a second!

  11. sluggo

    $35,000 to restore??? You guys and your checkbook restorations! Car doesnt look too bad to me, Seems there are fewer and fewer people willing to step up and take on these kinds of projects themselves. Sure, working a day job and 3 hrs per night and most weekends probably take a few years but used to be in many housing areas you could drive thru on a weekend and 1/2 the houses the garage was open and people wrenching on their projects.
    I dont do as many as I used to, but seems the market is just a bunch of speculators with a checkbook but the number of shops you can farm this sort of thing out to is shrinking.

    • gbvette62

      I’m in the Corvette parts business, and I can see an easy $20,000+ needed, just in parts and chrome plating. Parts for early Corvettes, can add up pretty quick.

      I don’t believe the nose on that car is repairable, or at least I wouldn’t advise it, and a correct, press molded nose is about $5,500. The missing trunk irons are about $2,000 for aluminum reproductions, or $2,500-$4,000 for original, die cast ones. A basic, rebuilt small block will run $2,500-$3,000. $1,500 to plate the bumpers, $1,400 for the grill moldings, $400 for a grill (it’s cheaper then plating one), top fender moldings $200, and $200 for parking lamps.

      A complete pair of 58 door panels are $1,600, the dash pad is $500, seat covers are $600 (without any springs, foam, burlap, etc), and carpet’s another $250. That’s $17,000 to $20,000, and we haven’t even started talking about a top, wiring, weatherstrip, tires, and all the little parts that people don’t think about, when restoring an old car!

      On top of that, how many shade tree mechanics do you know, that have any experience working with fiberglass? As someone familiar with working on and restoring early Corvettes, I’d say $35,000 is low, even for someone who can do a lot of the work themselves.

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      • 2016 Z06/07

        gbvette62 absolutely correct 45K might still be too low. Since it is not original between the purchase price and the rebuild price you will never get your money back. I would replace the front cap as well.

        1
      • lonnie93041

        I used to work on motorcycles for a living and when someone would ask for a quote on custom engine work or to repair a major crash we’d say take our estimate, double it and add 50% because you always find major horrors once you really tear into a project. I’m sure it’s the same with cars. I mean these things are old and missing cosmetic items usually cost more than engine work!

  12. R L Fry

    I was raised MOPAR, but as I was born in ’58, and had the $$, it would be a nice project car. Older brother took me out in a ’67 he had a few years back, when he lived in horse ‘n buggy area of PA. Now he’s gone and I’m on disability 😑!

  13. Joeinthousandoaks

    Not my favorite year c1 but a good car to resto mod. Lots o 1 year only treatments as mentioned before. I’d drop an Ls7 in along with suspension mods to go along with it.

    • Treebeardzz

      They are getting rarer every day so I would try to keep everything reversible(although it can never go “Bloomington Gold” because of the glass damage). That said go old school with a 4-bolt main 327, mothball the original hood and go with a replacement with a Offy dual quad cross-ram sticking through and have fun driving it. Maybe lace panels and moderate hand striping or crushed glass paint. Even though “original” has already left the barn, all that could later be easily reversed when even damaged ones are rarer and more expensive.

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  14. Jack

    I didn’t see any mention of the condition of the A pillars. Didnt’t see any open door picture either so no way to see if those are solid. From what I’ve heard without those being solid these old vetts are not worth the trouble. At this price someone is probably buying for parts in another restoration, at 18K plus last check, there’s at least 35K in resto work minimum, unless it’s spectacular, it’d be hard to be worth it IMHO. The harder parts to find will likely drive up the resto cost. Might have to manufacture a front lower valance

    • gbvette62

      A-pillar rust is not an issue in the 53-62’s (or for that matter, in the 63-67’s either). The windshield frame and door posts are pot metal pieces, that are bolted onto 53-62’s. Rust in the hinge pillar, lock pillar and door sill/rocker panel areas, is also very rare on the 53-62’s. The most common place to find rust in these cars, is the rear crossmember, and it’s an easily replaced, bolt on part.

  15. Gene

    An Iconic one year production.
    What does the VIN plate say and is it there ?

  16. Tyler

    The only C1 I’ve ever driven was a black 58 dual quad 283 4 speed car. That death trap broke me from ever wanting to own one for myself. Now a 65, that’s another story…

    It’s a C1, so it’s most likely gonna get restored, but it’s gonna take some really deep pockets. It will have to be a labor of love though. I can’t see someone doing it for an investment or resale.

  17. Bob

    My father had a black 58 with the base engine and the 3 speed. I didn’t really care for it because 13 year old boys demanded more power and a 4 speed. Now, I’d love it. My dad ran a wire to the spears on the trunk and used them as his antenna.

    • DRV

      Bob, Is that a charcoal one like the one I built to match my dad’s?

  18. Peter Loeffelbein

    I love the 58 – 62 corvettes. No other car with 4 eyes grabs me the way they do. My wife is a 62 and I must say the rears of them make my heart beat faster.

  19. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Winning bid:US $19,500.00
    [ 38 bids ]

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