Having grown up near Zion National Park, Wayne Clark is used to experiencing majestic and awesome sights. When he decided to build his latest street rod, Wayne says, We had a theme in mind from the beginninga high-tech drivetrain and interior in a vintage body. To do that he chose an early Corvette. The plan was also to drive it to lots of events throughout the West. But much like the incredible rock formations, such a spectacular car didnt just happen overnight. After locating a tired 54, Wayne and his brother-in-law Byron Linford made quick work out of stripping down the car for a complete renovation.
To properly execute the theme, Wayne and Byron knew they had to start with the right chassis. Since 54 Corvettes are not known for high-tech suspensions, they contacted Hendrickson Street Rods for a custom square-tube frame created from a mid-80s Monte Carlo. This frame afforded the benefits of a large front sway bar, disc brakes, and modern small-block and transmission mounting. At the rear of the Vette, Rice Machine built and narrowed a 94 Camaro rearend, added 3.23 gears, retained the stock disc brakes, and bolted the entire assembly into the car. To give the car the right stance, Wayne and Byron installed an Air Ride airbag system activated with an onboard air compressor.
This system allows the vehicle to go from an in-the-weeds look to a ready-for-highway-cruising stance with the touch of a switch. For wheels and tires, Wayne decided on a set of Budnik Spyder wheels and BFGoodrich Comp T/As. But one of the most remarkable aspects of the Corvette is what motivates it.
Since the stock 155hp inline six-cylinder didnt fit the high-tech theme, Wayne and Byron added a 96 Corvette 330hp LT4 small-block. The LT4s performance edge comes from a set of good-flowing cylinder heads, large valves, a high-lift cam, and 10.8:1 compression. To route the exhaust out of the LT4 engine, Wayne retained the stock manifolds and had them coated by High Performance Coatings in Salt Lake City. Because they wanted this Vette to be a long-distance cruiser, the pair bolted in a 4L60E overdrive automatic transmission to reduce highway engine speed.
Since Wayne and Byrons plan edged toward the functional side of performance, they added a pair of 60 Corvette doors with roll-up windows and then reskinned them with 54 outer-door shells. This required grafting in a 60 Corvette windshield and meant countless modifications to the body, trunk lid, and doorjambs. Of course, this required an exceptional paint job, too, so they contacted Larry Dittmann from nearby Hurricane, Utah, to apply the 97 Ferrari Yellow. Interior engineering and assembling duties for all the final pieces came by way of longtime friend Rick Spencer at R&S Upholstery in Cedar City, Utah. Rick took care of all the wiring, fitting, and upholstery that is the hallmark of a well-executed hot rod. This car demonstrates it all and gets plenty of opportunity to prove it. Since the Vette was completed three years ago, the 54 has logged 4,500 miles per year and averaged 27 mpg.
Cool vintage looks, great workmanship, and a well-engineered high-tech drivetrain. That spells Pro Touring.