A high-level project car build is extremely complex, and when that project hits on all cylinders, the final product can be a game changer. There is a potential enemy of any build, the dreaded “project creep”, when things get added and changed outside of the original plan. Project creep can wreck a well laid out build in a second, but project creep can also take a car to new heights. Steve Smith’s 1958 Corvette code named 50Eight, created by Legacy Innovations, experienced some small positive creep that has earned it high praise and some pretty prestigious awards.
Steve and his wife Dawn are true lovers of anything automotive and their list of previous cars is amazing. The Smith’s cleared out two of their most recent rides, a 2007 Shelby Supersnake, and Dawns ’64 Corvette coupe to make room for the 50Eight project.
With their automotive house in order, Troy Spackman at Legacy Innovations was contacted to get things going on the Smith’s 1958 Ebay purchased Corvette.
Spackman and his team got their hands on the Corvette with intentions of just doing some basic work and suspension upgrades, the idea of becoming a Good Guys Street Machine of the Year finalist wasn’t even on the table. Project creep came knocking when Smith starting talking with his good friend and racer Rod Saboury who also had a Corvette being built at Legacy. Soon the old friends starting bouncing ideas off of each other and the level of the builds grew exponentially. This new found excitement lead to positive project creep and it extended the build time to two years, but the end product was well worth the wait.
The 50Eight is more than a pretty face, the car can handle like it's on rails. Smith really put the car through its paces on the Good Guys Auto Cross course in Columbus. Other street machine of the year cars idled around, Smith really got after it!
Body and Chassis
The first thing that jumps out about the 50Eight is the silky smooth body lines that Legacy was able to create. A massive amount of man hours were spent massaging the body with the sinking of emblems, modifying bumpers, and changing the trim. Additional body cuts had to be made by Legacy to create the new wider and lower look desired for the 50Eight.
Having a certain stance is more than just a look, it contributes to the final goal of having a show car that handles like a race car. Making this happen on a C1 Corvette is a tall task, but Legacy Innovations stepped up to meet Smith’s request with a basket of top-shelf parts mated to their own chassis.
All of that time in design and prep paid off for the look of the 50Eight. Getting the desired look to work with the performance goals was a tough task, but the final product looks stunning.
A full custom chromoly triple tube chassis was built in house at Legacy as the foundation of the 50Eight. After the chassis was complete Detroit Speed Engineering suspension parts were bolted to the 50Eight consisting of: control arms, swivel links, and sway bars. Rounding out the detailed suspension revision is a DSE C6 Corvette hub and spindle package, JRi Double adjustable shocks on all four corners, and Eibach springs.
The Power Plant
Since the final goal of the 50Eight had grown from just a few suspension and engine upgrades, driveline modifications had to be made, and Legacy Innovations took these to the next level, just like the chassis. A 355 cubic inch small block Chevy was built in house to give the 50Eight some grunt. Airflow Development had a big hand in the development of the power plant, with some custom work on the Edelbrock heads sitting atop the 355.
The 50Eight’s power plant has an old school feel, but is rocking some modern tech. The trick induction system is fuel injected but pays its respects to the heritage of the Corvette.
Hovering above the aluminum heads is a totally trick induction system that Legacy Innovations built. The custom billet ITB intake and throttle bodies are based on a classic Mooneys casting. A Big Stuff, 3 System manages the fuel fed into the throttle bodies from a Bosch 044 fuel pump and is tuned by Airflow Development.
Providing the fire for the mill is a MSD 6AL ignition box and Pro-billet distributor. Legacy Innovations added their own custom made headers, three-inch exhaust, and implemented a Spintech muffler to give the 50Eight a deep, rich tone when Smith mashes the loud peddle.
Keeping up with the race car quality theme a Keisler SS700 gearbox gives Smith buttery smooth and reliable shifts when he takes the 50Eight on a spirited cruise. An added bonus of the Keisler is additional legroom in the cabin of the Corvette.
Taking the beating from the transmission is a Spec flywheel and clutch along with a Driveshaft Shop 3-½” Aluminum driveshaft. Another custom driveline part for the 50Eight is the Legacy Fabricated nine-inch rear end with a Strange S-track that’s equipped with 3.73 gears and 35 spline axles.
Running Gear and Interior
To say the 50Eight has an aggressive stance would be an understatement, but that stance is set off even more by the wheel and tire package that Smith picked for his car. A set of Forgeline 18x9s up front and 18x10s out back that are wrapped in Continental tires send the message loud and clear that this C1 can go fast and look good doing so. Wilwood six-piston brakes float up front and a four-piston set out back help the 50Eight come to a stop on command, much needed on those tight AutoCross courses.
The Smith’s and Legacy Innovation showing off the hardware earned at the Good Guys PPG Nationals in Columbus. Making the top 5 for Street Machine of the Year is not an easy task but the 50Eight fit right in with all the top cars.
After all of the power and suspension upgrades were complete, Legacy Innovations had to make Smith’s C1 look as good as it performed. There was a lot of debate on what color to go with, as your factory Corvette colors were closely examined.
The Smith’s ended up taking a liking to the idea of the brown shades. Like everything else on the 50Eight, even the paint color is totally custom. Legacy created a new hue for the Corvette, Spackman says, “the color, is a custom mix thanks to R-M BASF refinish products, it’s named Legacy Bronze Effect, this color is now available to any consumer.”
The final piece to the 50Eight puzzle is the immaculate interior. Smith wanted to keep everything in the cabin as stock looking as possible, and Legacy Innovations did this in spades. Every inch of the interior is stock but with a custom twist that only the most observant Corvette lover will notice right down to the stock gauges that have a modern build. The 50Eight even has three top options; hard top, soft top, and no top so the Smiths can cruise the highways and byways of Maryland as they please.
The subtle details of the 50Eight's interior compliment the car well. By not going totally custom, the focus is not lost on the outstanding exterior.
A Job Well Done
Building a car that has amassed the honors of 2013 SEMA Goodguys Gold Bar Winner, 2014 Detroit Autorama 1st in class & Outstanding Award, and Goodguys 2014 Top 5 Street Machine of the Year Finalist is not easy, period. What makes the 50Eight so special is that this project started with the thought of just installing some suspension upgrades on a “rough driver.” Yet the car went through some positive plan changes based on old friends, and ended up as a unique take on a classic sports car. Legacy Innovations was able to honor the Smith’s new project plan to build a car that has show car looks with the backbone of a race car, and did one fantastic job doing so.