Praise Dale – 1958 Chevrolet Corvette

GM Scene Magazine®

Dale Carpentier's 1958 Chevrolet Corvette

My best friend, Pete Pelletier, is a Ferrari restoration mechanic, and we met here in Phoenix. He moved to Berkeley, California, and continued work there, making significant contributions at Patrick Ottis Restoration. He had a bucket list to do a C1 Corvette. One day, a gentleman came in and told him that they knew of a Corvette 30-40 miles north of Berkeley, but it hadn’t been seen in quite a while. So Pete goes to knock on the door, and the elderly gentleman says, “Nope, not gonna show it to you.” Three months later, he knocks on the door again, “No, I’m not gonna show it to you.”

Well, Pete’s a persistent guy, so another three months go by. “All right, I’ll show it to you.” They walk around the back to the detached double garage, and holy moly. This car went into the garage in 1971, and the garage door didn’t open up again until 2010 when Pete opened it up.

So he decides that he wants to buy it and needs a little bit of money, so I gave him some money. In the photos, you can see the condition of the car in the garage and the 30 or 40 years of stuff that accumulated in front of the garage. It took three days just to clear out so I could get a rollback in there. In the pictures, you can see it has a 392 Hemi with a B&M clutch flight with the tag from B&M in 1971 still hanging on the transmission.

Well, Pete didn’t have enough money to buy it with the 392 and the automatic, so he told the guy that he’d take the car, pull the motor, then bring the motor and transmission back to him. When Pete got all the parts, the motor and tranny out of the car and checking numbers and talking to me on the phone and sending me pictures and whatnot, I decided to send him some more money. We couldn’t allow that thing to sit for another 40 years in the garage just like the car, so we ended up with the engine as well.

So Pete took the body off of the chassis and was gonna start doing a restomod, driving car. And just after he got the body off, he was diagnosed with cancer. Well, that put a stop to that project. He just didn’t do any more to it. It didn’t stop him from collecting more parts, but he didn’t work on the car anymore.

Not long after, Pete passed away from cancer. We buried him in upstate New York where he was from. About a month afterward, his widow, Jerri, calls me and says, “Dale, when are you gonna come back to pick this thing up?” I said, “Come pick what thing up?” She said, “Pete said before he passed away that you were the only one who would put it together the way he wanted.” I dropped to the floor. Holy moly, this wasn’t on my bucket list. I didn’t take it apart, but he’s a great friend. So I get my buddy, and we take a 46-foot enclosed trailer up to the San Francisco Bay Area.

I got the car and parts back home, and I started on it. I had a clean slate. Could’ve done whatever I wanted to do. But I knew through talking with Pete and our conversations about what he wanted, and I stayed true. I stayed true right to the end, and the result is what you see. The car was not built to show, although it’s done very well. It was built to drive, and I’m very pleased with the results.

I have a memorial to Pete on the trunk, and I also have his ashes in the glove box, so he’s riding with me all the time.

GM Scene Magazine®