SEMA 2012: Rad Rides by Troy Builds One Bad ’59 Vette

One of the challenges of picking a car to feature in your SEMA booth has to be balancing “curb appeal” versus taking the spotlight off of your product. Worst case is getting some killer build front and center, stopping traffic in the aisles but sending nobody onto the soft part of the carpet to find out what part you contributed to the effort.

This year, Eaton Performance Products got it just right, and scored extra points for degree of difficulty. The 1959 Corvette catching eyeballs in the aisles around Eaton’s booth is a Rad Rides by Troy creation, you see, and when master builder Troy Trepanier is involved, the star power of his work naturally tends to overshadow anything else.

The ’59, though, is a masterpiece of understated good taste, combining the classic good looks of the C1 Corvette with modern running gear and the perfectly-executed details Trepanier is known for. It’s a great match for Eaton’s presence in the automotive aftermarket as well; they’re the heart and soul of some of the industry’s most popular twin-rotor superchargers, including factory blowers from GM as well as the customized Edelbrock E-Force unit under the hood of this car.

We got a chance to talk to Rad Rides general manager Jack Trepanier, and he walked us through all the details of this build. Starting with an Art Morrison chassis, a Chevy Performance E-ROD LS3 powerplant backed by a 4L60 automatic transmission provides motivation, and the aforementioned E-FORCE supercharger provides some additional oomph. The top shell of the supercharger housing is a custom Rad Rides touch, capping a totally sanitary engine bay.

Jack tells us that the deep black hue is a Glasurit paint, and pointed us to take a closer look at the touches like exhaust outlets precisely machined to match up with the factory bumper cutouts that abound on this car.

At a show where the vehicles on display range from “awe-inspiring” to “eyesore” and every spot in between, we’d have to say that this classic Corvette reborn with state-of-the-art running gear is subtle enough to keep Y-body purists happy while still being unique and modern.


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Paul Huizenga

After some close calls on the street in his late teens and early twenties, Paul Huizenga discovered organized drag racing and never looked back, becoming a SFI-Certified tech inspector and avid bracket racer. Formerly the editor of OverRev and Race Pages magazines, Huizenga set out on his own in 2009 to become a freelance writer and editor.
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