Priceless Surprise – Don & Denise Nickleson’s ’59 Corvette
Don Nickleson secretly bought the beginnings of this ’59 Corvette to build as a surprise birthday gift for his wife, Denise. “Keeping it a secret was tough,” he says, “but we pulled it off and surprised her – four years later than planned!”
Don had help from his brother, Darren, who owns Indy Street Rods and Classics. Together with the shop team, the brothers transformed the worn-out former drag car into a stunning street machine, starting with a new chassis from SRIII Motorsports that uses C4 suspensions with air springs and Wilwood disc brakes. Forgeline 19- and 20-inch wheels and Goodyear tires got things rolling, while power came from a 650hp Chevrolet LT4 crate backed by a Tremec T56 six-speed.
In addition to repairing a lot of damage, the Indy Street Rods team made many subtle modifications to the fiberglass body, including reshaped wheel openings, widened rear quarter panels, lengthened and tucked bumpers, fabricated trim, and other trick touches, with a crowning coat of custom-mixed red Axalta paint. Inside, Steve Holcomb reshaped the seats and covered most of the surfaces in black leather with gray trim. An Ididit column, Vintage Air, Classic Instruments, and a Blaupunkt stereo are just a few of the amenities.
Though it took longer and cost more than expected, Don says when he revealed the Corvette to Denise, the look on her face was priceless. What more could you ask for?
Photos by Damon Lee & Terry Lysak