Hot rod Corvette gets a new lease on life after a wreck
John Muller loves the design of early Corvettes more than any other American car. He once owned a 1955, but in spite of how much he liked its styling, he wasn’t happy with the way it drove. What he really wanted was an original look with modern drivability.
Muller, formerly of Kansas City, now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. He sold Muller Advertising in 2007 but is still an employee of Muller Bressler and Brown. He opened the M80Art gallery in Scottsdale’s Borgata Mall and does commissioned paintings.
Muller has owned and restored several historically significant cars, namely the Pupilidy Special, the Pooper, the Mongoose Spyder and the Tojeiro Climax. He is currently restoring the Dick Williams Sports Special. Muller still competes in a couple of vintage sports car races each year.
Muller found this well-used 1954 Corvette on in 2004. The former racecar was, in Muller’s words, “nearly a basket case.” It was a perfect candidate for a transplant. Muller a 5.7-liter, Corvette LS1 engine and six-speed transmission, plus new brakes and suspension pieces. Hot Rod Express in Blue Springs spent nearly two years transforming Vette.
one of Muller’s friends was driving the car when his hip went out as he was turning a corner. His right leg jammed the throttle wide open and the car jumped a curb, hitting a 100-year-old oak tree at roughly 50 miles per hour. The car sustained significant damage.
Muller had the wreck taken to Carriage and Motor Works in Kansas City, Kan. The staff began the tedious process of rebuilding the car from the ground up. They completely disassembled it and repaired or replaced nearly every body panel. They straightened and reinforced the frame rebuilt the suspension and reupholstered the interior. David Henderson said the overhaul took about 1,700 hours.
Although the car was painted red before the wreck, Muller and Henderson decided to give it a period-correct metallic blue paint job accented with a fawn colored leather interior. The air conditioning system is tucked up under the dash so the car looks complete original to the casual observer.
Non-stock magnesium-style wheels and a lowered ride height are the only clue that this is not a stock 1954 Corvette, at least until you open the hood and find the late-model V-8 in place of the original six-cylinder.
The Corvette is now in Arizona. It may look like a senior citizen, but it performs like a youngster, and that’s just what Muller wanted.