Wrecked Relic to Sleek Showstopper – Mike Chaffeur’s 1959 Corvette
If you need evidence that the future of hot rod building is in good hands, just look at 25-year-old Josh Sanders of Sanders Street Rods, the shop behind Mike Chaffeur’s trick 1959 Corvette. As a car-crazy teen, Josh was taken under the wing of Denny Olson of Street Rods by Denny, a shop with 40 years of history in the Pacific Northwest. Josh apprenticed at the shop during high school before diving in full time, and even won a Goodguys Young Guys award with his personal ’68 Chevelle along the way.
After working for Denny for several years, young Josh considered striking out on his own. Denny made him a better deal, proposing that Josh continue working at the shop two more years while Denny showed him the ropes of business management. Denny would be ready to retire by then, and Josh could take over the business. The plan worked, with Josh taking the reins in January 2021 and changing the name to Sanders Street Rods.
Mike’s Corvette straddled that transition during its multi-year transformation from a wrecked relic to a sleek showstopper. The build included an Art Morrison chassis with independent front and rear suspensions, Wilwood disc brakes, and 18-inch EVOD wheels. A 427c.i. Chevrolet Performance LS7 engine was outfitted with Katech valve covers, a Concept One accessory drive system, and a custom aluminum engine cover fabricate by Josh with paint details by Dave Austin. The engine is backed by a Lokar-shifted Tremec six speed from Modern Driveline.
In addition to plenty of fiberglass repair and panel replacement, Josh treated the old Corvette body to subtle tricks like a fold-up taillight fuel door, plus an array of scratch-built aluminum panels under the hood. When Josh and Doug Isbell had the body smooth, they applied a gorgeous black PPG finish accented with silver coves and freshly plated brightwork.
New seat frames from Al Knoch Interiors were tastefully stitched in black leather by McFarland Upholstery, along with the door panels, dash, and custom center console. Classic Instruments gauges provide vintage style with modern operation, while comfort is enhanced with Vintage Air climate controls and an EVOD steering wheel atop the Flaming River tilt column.
The finished ’Vette is certainly impressive, and so is the faith that Mike put into such a young builder. “I was only 21 and he trusted me to customize his car,” Josh says. “I would pitch ideas to him, and every time I got a ‘yes!”
It appears Mike’s trust was well-founded and has paid off not only for him, but also for Josh, who now has four employees and a backlog of work at Sanders Street Rods.
Photos by John Jackson