Rhonda Ralph’s 1957 Corvette Wins 2019 Classic Instruments Trophy Dash Crown
Rhonda Ralph knows a good thing when she sees it, which she did a few years ago when she laid eyes on a custom 1957 Corvette built by Steve’s Auto Restorations in Portland, Oregon. The car was on display at the Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals in Puyallup, Washington, and Rhonda and her husband, Dave, were intent on purchasing it, though the owner had no intention of selling.
“As the conversation continued, they realized that even proposing an offer would be fruitless,” said Steve Frisbie, owner of Steve’s Auto Restorations. “Dave said to his wife, ‘Well, I guess you will just have to have Steve build you one to your own design.’” Talk about a husband who knows how to make his wife happy!
The SAR team wasted no time finding a suitable 1957 Corvette project car, locating one within a couple weeks right in the Portland area. Rhonda and Steve worked with SAR’s in-house designer, Dave Brost, on a design plan for the project.
The goal was to make the Corvette elegant, unique, and drivable, with a style reflecting Rhonda’s tastes. To that end, the car was treated to subtle design updates like one-off bumpers, deleted door glass (resulting in a true roadster), a ’53 Corvette windshield (which is 2-inches shorter than a ’57), a custom scooped hood, and a ’53 Corvette trunk lid, which has a recessed license plate pocket. The body was massaged to perfection and eventually coated in custom-mixed PPG seafoam green paint with a pearl overlay and off-white coves.
Though the interior retains its classic character, it was treated to refinements like a set of one-off gauges from Classic Instruments, which feature C5 ZO6 ghost images. A second-generation Corvette radio console was added to the dash, while a smaller-diameter steering wheel and custom pedals helped complete the design theme. Dan’s Upholstery stitched the custom cream leather upholstery.
The goal of making the car more drivable was achieved by using an Art Morrison chassis with an LS3 engine backed by a five-speed Tremec transmission. The 18×9- and 19×10.5-inch wheels were custom designed by SAR and machined by EVOD and wear BFGoodrich tires.
The end result is a Corvette that’s even better than the one Rhonda originally fell for, because this one was built specifically to suit her tastes and personality. Isn’t that the goal of a good custom car? And to top it all off, Rhonda’s 1957 Corvette is now the 2019 Classic Instruments Trophy Dash Grand Champion, a worthy honor for a tasty Corvette.
Photos by Dale Moreau, courtesy of Steve’s Auto Restoration