What’s it like to drive a restomod 1977 BLACK CHEVY CORVETTE?

There are a lot of cars in Malibu that evoke emotion and I’ve had the privilege of driving many. But when Frank Nesta suggested I drive his black 1977 Chevy Corvette from Malibu Cars & Coffee to the Surfrider parking lot for a shoot, I got really excited. Over the history of the Vette, it’s been sculpted and shaped into many variations, but, this sexy, curvaceous and tantalizing version has always rattled my emotional cage. Which is why it’s this week’s Ride of the Week.

As a retired individual driving around in the Bu, Frank gets it. It’s January, 72 degrees and he’s skirting a convertible Vette up and down some of the best streets in the world. It’s fun in the purest sense of the word. 

“I bought it brand new in 1977 from Palmyra Motors, Palmyra, New York,” says Frank. “Nancy and I drove out to LA in May 1979. The car was a T-Top with a luggage rack and every inch was used for the stuff we did not ship. The luggage on the rack had to be wrapped in a plastic bag to keep the contents dry as we hit some torrential rains in Oklahoma. But we loved traveling in it and the extra attention it received along the way.”  

Frank always dug the style of the C3 Corvettes and bought it as his company car. Imagine being forced to drive this thing for your business? Oh, the horror. But since this is a purpose-built car, Frank’s business must have been to drive and have fun. The Malibu way, right?

“I always wished that my 1977 Corvette was a convertible and had the power as it predecessors,” Frank said. “Since they stopped making convertibles in 1975, I had to build my own. So, in August 2011, I started on my frame-off ‘77 convertible resto-mod. I had a pretty clear vision of how I wanted it to perform and look.”  

He did  all of the mechanical and electrical himself, but needed some help and guidance from Scott Kenning and his team at The Fiberglass Body in Hawthorne to make it a convertible.  

“The drive train was completely revamped. The engine was replaced with a ZZ4 GM crate engine, a 700R4 4-speed automatic, and a rear end has a  3.70 gear ratio. This  combination was exactly what I was looking for.”  

To complete the  exterior look, he added a 1978 front spoiler, 1980 rear bumper, LED tail lights and removed all badging. The car was block sanded until the finish satisfied the result he was looking for to give it a smooth gloss sexy black finish. The 18-inch wheels and tires updated the look and handling also.  

The interior was updated with 2005 Corvette seats using the black and tan combination to match the car and the tan cloth convertible top.  The seats are fully adjustable including lumbar, bolster and are heated.  

“It took 14 months to complete this project and it turned out exactly as I wanted. My friends tell me that I  build it as GM should have built it. So, yes, I am happy.”

What does Frank love about Malibu? “Everything. The ocean views, the mountains, the curvy back roads to enjoy our cars on.” And his favorite movie with a car is “Bullet,” of course. Although I don’t think this Vette would take the San Francisco hills so well, but it did haul up PCH once Frank was behind the wheel.

I’m so glad that I live in a town where unique cars and bikes exists at every turn. And so grateful to people like Frank who will allow me to experience the actual drive, proving the point that life is about giving. Hopefully, this article gives you an appreciation of this beauty.

Thanks again, Frank, and keep that baby spotless. Not too many wives allow their husbands to spend so much time with their mistress. Good on you.

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