- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

Larry Wyte was a teen-ager in Buffalo, N.Y., when he was bitten by the Corvette bug. His older cousin, Petey, took him for a ride in his unforgettable black 1958 Corvette with silver coves and a red interior.
Mr. Wyte has never been the same.
"It took me five years to get my first Corvette," he said. "A 1959 preowned, low option model."
He was a civil engineering student at the University of Buffalo and his Corvette became a fixture around the campus.
After graduation in 1966 came a job, a wife and children. There went the Corvette in favor of more practical transportation.
Mr. Wyte promised himself that he would replace his first bare-bones 1959 Corvette with another 1959 Corvette, fully optioned and in perfect condition.
After almost 30 years Mr. Wyte realized that a perfect 1959 Corvette no longer existed at least in his price range.
Even more disturbing was the realization that a restorable Corvette that met Mr. Wyte's requirements was almost impossible to find.
Never one to say die, Mr. Wyte continued searching for an elusive Corvette in good enough condition to warrant restoration. He began advertising in antique car publications for an unrestored original Corvette. The ads ran for five years.
A few hundred responses trickled in and kept his hopes alive for a viable Corvette. Mr. Wyte checked out about 10 percent of the responses to his ads. Eventually his hopes began to diminish.
In early 1991, he located a 1959 Corvette roadster in Lenexa, Kan. The car had lived in the Midwest in a salt-free environment; therefore the steel frame was intact.
Just because the body of every Corvette is made of fiberglass doesn't mean other parts of the cars are immune to corrosion.
Mr. Wyte asked for and received a videotape of the car. The tape showed that a hood scoop had been cut into the engine hood between the two original longitudinal ribs. He learned from the owner that the Corvette did not run, although it still had the original 283-cubic-inch engine, and that the car couldn't be steered and that the brakes didn't function.
Mr. Wyte had every intention of giving the car a ground-up restoration so that he wouldn't have to undo or redo the efforts of a previous owner.
He bought the 2,840-pound Corvette in the summer of 1991. It was one of the survivors of the 9,670 such models manufactured in 1959.
When the Corvette arrived at his Vienna home on the back of a truck, there was no cause for celebration.
With great effort the relic was wrestled into the basement garage where it languished while the appropriate parts and stamina were gathered for the restoration.
During the dismantling of the car Mr. Wyte found the word "IVORY" scribbled in green crayon in the otherwise red trunk, indicating the original color of the car. He restored the interior of the trunk to its original specifications with the exception of that scribbled note, which he preserved.
With the Corvette V-8 engine rebuilt to the point where it was once again producing 270 horsepower, Mr. Wyte was comfortable replacing it into the restored Corvette. Once nestled in place, Mr. Wyte admired how attractive the dual four-barrel carburetors appeared on top of the engine.
He then decided to paint his 1959 Corvette in the color it wore when it left the factory snowcrest white.
It was difficult. Nevertheless, he did the job himself in the basement. The covers are the same color, each accented by three chrome teeth.
The red interior, installed by Mr. Wyte is identical to the original color.
For that matter, everything on the car is correct down to the nine-tooth grille that almost everyone thinks is lifted from a 1954 Chevrolet, but isn't. The fiberglass boot that covers the convertible top when lowered is in place.
The small circular reflectors below the covered taillights are correct, along with the cowl ventilator and windshield washers to clear the wraparound windshield.
A lot of years and a lot of miles have gone by since Mr. Wyte made that promise to himself. Now, on the brink of a new millennium, he has a pristine, fully optioned 1959 Corvette in his garage.
The base price of his Corvette in 1959 was $3,875. Extra cost accessories include:
Auxiliary hardtop…….$236.75.
4-speed transmission…188.30.
270-horsepower V-8……182.95.
Wonderbar radio………..149.80.
Heater………………………..102.25.
Power windows……………59.20.
Positraction rear axle…..48.45.
White-sidewall tires……..31.55.
Windshield washers…….16.15.
Sun shades…………………..10.80.
Courtesy lights………………6.50.
Parking brake alarm………5.40.
Seat belts, of course, were a dealer-installed option.
Since restoration, Mr. Wyte has driven his Corvette less than 1,000 miles. The speedometer still stands ready to register speeds up to 160 mph and the tachometer redline stands at 6,500 rpm.
It must be comforting for him to know the 1959 Corvette is ready whenever he is.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide