Cheap Project? 1959 Chevrolet Corvette

At first glance, this 1959 Corvette seems to need a lot. Upon closer examination, it starts to look better and better, especially if you don’t require matching numbers. The car is for sale here on eBay where bidding has risen to just under $20,000 but hasn’t met the reserve yet. The project is located down south in Walker, Louisiana.

The front clip has been professionally replaced with a one-piece aftermarket fiberglass unit (thus the two-tone effect). There are a lot of pictures in the ad and they are actually of pretty good quality, so take a look for yourself and see what you think. Unfortunately, there’s no history known about the car (or at least shared in the ad) and with a non-numbers-matching engine (and probably transmission) this will never be a concours show queen. Which is just fine with me, because it won’t cost as much as one.

The seller describes the frame as being very solid with no rot or patches, and the pictures bear this out. That looks like a new exhaust component as well.

Inside, it’s not as pretty a story, but at least some of what you need is here (and the rest is all available from Corvette specialists). The 4-speed manual that is included is in “unknown” condition, but to me, it’s a plus that it’s a manual! I’m thinking this is another Corvette “blank canvas” like the 1966 coupe we recently featured but for a lot less money and it’s more complete. All good, right?

Although this isn’t the exact 283 cubic-inch small-block V8 that originally came in the car, and it obviously doesn’t run yet, it does look right in there. 9,670 1959 Corvettes were produced and this is the 4,190th down the line according to the serial number, which means it was probably made sometime in February 1959. How would you like to re-make it in February 2020?

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  1. DRV

    You can’t even believe how much work there is here, and then parts to buy! The frame looks great because the first piece to go is the rear cross frame which is excellent here.
    Yes, with the one piece Eckler front end it can only be a driver, not that that there’s anything wrong with that! $15k is all that’s there for me if I’m wanting a driver worth $60k and I do the details.

    • Ivan

      I have to agree with you, however this is a clean rolling “canvas” of sorts, but yes, this is going to need some finance to finish properly.

  2. Jay Morgan

    Is it a tilt front end – must be if it’s one piece.

    • Steve R

      No. There would need to be a cut line at the bottom of the front fenders, or some other way to slide the front clip forward, otherwise it won’t clear the doors when it tilts up.

      Steve R

  3. bobhess Member

    Have to appreciate a car like this as we are in the middle of a build similar to it. Looks like good work so far and will be a good car if it can be bought right. Like the man said, lots of money and work but it’s one of the prime years for the Vettes and would be fun to own.

  4. gbvette62

    It’s unfortunate that the seller chose to use a one piece, hand laid nose, instead of a correct, press molded fiberglass one. A press molded nose costs about $3000 more, but the quality is far better, it’s what GM used, and it’s just a better choice. 59’s didn’t have the VIN stamped on the block, so if it had a press molded nose it would be relatively easy to find a correctly dated block, and make this a “numbers matching” concours restoration.

    I have to disagree with the writer that “this will never be a concours show queen. Which is just fine with me, because it won’t cost as much as one.” This car will cost just as much to restore, as a concours restoration. I own a Corvette parts business, and there are a lot of expensive parts missing. A complete repro convertible top is $4300, the interior soft parts are about $3000, the wiring harnesses are close to $1000, plus emblems, stainless trim, gauges, shifter, grill teeth, and whatever else is missing. I see at least $15000 in missing parts, plus the cost of an engine rebuild, paint and any other labor the buyer can’t do themselves. It won’t be hard to tie up $30-$35K in this car, after buying it.

    At the current bid it’s probably not a bad deal, but if I was sinking $50K plus in a car, I think I’d want a correct, press molded front clip.

  5. Gaspumpchas

    All good comments. Looks like it was a bunch of parts hung together, and that’s ok, but the Big money parts you would need to finish would put you in the poor house, as stated. Even a less expensive car gets up there in price when you start buying the parts piecemeal. Since there is another vette next to this one, this could be why the seller didn’t finish. the 3 cars I own, one done and 2 are 85% finished, are waiting until I have the free cash to buy the finishing touches. I probably could have bought finished cars by the time I got done, but didn’t have the scratch for a $20 grand car at my disposal. Good luck to the new owner of this one, I hope it meets your expectations and you have fun working on it. I’d have someone knowledgeable look at it first.

  6. ACZ

    Too much left to do for the price. Too many hard to find pieces not there.

  7. dogwater

    Wow lets all cry about the front end big deal,looks like a nice project for someone
    with the skills to finish it and you can buy all the parts for is car on line Corvette Central etc .

  8. Ukracer

    I say build it as a replica vintage Gasser.
    Don’t need as many repo parts and if you get the look right you might have a toy for a few years that will sell for more than you have in it.

  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    “Listing no longer available”

  10. Neil G.

    I live near Walker, La. Sure hope this car was moved to higher ground before the 2016 Floodwater event that submerged most of Walker, La under 3’ plus water.

  11. Cam W

    I rebuilt a somewhat similar “barn find” 1957 last winter. The car had allegedly been raced in the 60s, then taken apart, and left in a barn.
    gbvette62 is correct. Cars like this can be very costly to make them NCRS or like new.
    I built my ’57 as a fun “driver”. Mechanically, the drivetrain is all new or rebuilt with new wiring etc.
    Cosmetically, it looks like the barn-find that it is:
    Faded red paint with faded black coves, and flat black hood (the way I got it). Faded, worn , lightly pitted chrome, original faded(working instruments). It has rally wheels from a ’67, and nice black leather seats from a ’61. If you are patient, there are always other Corvette shops or owners doing resto-mods or concours restorations that have surplus nice used parts for sale at great prices.
    My ’57 is no NCRS winner, but is great fun to drive, and people love seeing it on cruise nights.

  12. Bbob

    Buyer be ware another one from walker La buyer be very sure of car before any money changes hand

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