What Have We Here? A 1959 Corvette Named Clockwork Orange

The first-generation Corvette is without question, an automotive icon. The sheer number we see at events across North America is proof alone that they’re extremely well-loved by enthusiasts.

Typically, the C1s we see fall into four distinct groups. Factory restorations, light restomods, Pro Touring builds, and purpose-built race cars. We love all of the aforementioned styles, but what we really enjoy, are C1 builds that go left where everyone else goes right. These builds don’t try to fly-by as subtle and refined. Instead they are in your face, and impossible to ignore.

When we saw this 1959 Corvette known as “Clockwork Orange” at the 2018 Detroit Autorama, it instantly yielded a longer look. Far from a factory restoration, or Pro Touring build, it’s a car that isn’t ashamed about being over the top.

With all of the looks of a quarter-mile icon from the “golden era,” you’re forgiven if, at first glance, you thought this car was a genuine untouched survivor. We did too, and that is of course completely intentional.

Before looking like it does today, Clockwork Orange was a legitimate race car. Eastern New York racers who have been around the  sport long enough to be known as ‘Old Timers’, remember the car as one that wasn’t to be tested. Unfortunately, it’s racing career came to an unceremonious end after a crash in the quarter mile.

The lexan hood on the car was a labor intensive endeavor, but totally worth it. When was the last time you saw a lexan hood on a C1?

After the wreck, the car sat in a barn, waiting for then-owner to once again give it the attention it deserved. Ridden hard and put away wet, life moved on while the Corvette sat, down on it’s luck. That is, until current owner Charlie Sorce entered the picture. Charlie managed to convince the owner to sell him the car for a chance at a second lease on life. Once Charlie had the keys, he tossed them over to Vintage Modified Restorations. Known for their ability to return nearly any condition Corvette from the brink, Vintage Modified wasted no time tearing into the car that would be Clockwork Orange.

As a former race car, any sins in the eyes of purists had already been performed, so no design ideas were off the table when it came to rebuilding this car. Charlie wanted something that was high horsepower, street legal, and safe, but also captivating when parked. To have his cake and eat it too, he also wanted it to perform in the quarter-mile. That’s a lot to ask from one car but, it’s exactly what Vintage Modified Restorations delivered.

Clockwork Orange early in the rebuild process. Photos: Vintage Modified Restorations

Since the frontend was twisted from the car’s previous wreck, a new one was grafted on that tied into the existing rollcage. When the chassis repair was complete, the work was given a once over by Vito Anonicilli, Vito was an integral part in ensuring the car met all the certification standards necessary to run the quarter mile. Once certified, the cage was painted gunmetal to match the interior work done by Chris Sanner.

Contrasting the Brilliant Burnt Copper exterior, is an interior made up of a muted chrome, black, and grey. The burnt orange color was applied only after the fiberglass body work was brought back straight, properly gapped, and blocked smooth. Greg Felix is the artist that painted the lettering on the side of the Corvette after Vintage Modified Restorations sprayed the paint as smooth as glass.

Sitting on classic big and little American Racing wheels, the slight forward rake of the suspension gives the car a very purposeful stance. Naturally, the rear wheels are shod in huge Micky Thompson tires. Tied into the rear of the frame, and exiting where a rear bumper should be if it were installed, is a functional wheelie bar. The bar is there to assist in putting the power down when Charlie gets intimately familiar with the range of the loud pedal.

Clockwork Orange wears American Racing wheels front and rear wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires

From the driver’s seat, vision is slightly obstructed by an 8-71 blower that sticks out of a custom lexan hood. Building the hood was a very labor intensive endeavor, but totally worth it. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a C1 with a lexan hood?

A 1,500hp Craiger Racing Engines build 555ci big-block powers Clockwork Orange.

The blower sits on top of a Craiger Racing Engines-built 540ci big-block that makes a very respectable 1,500 horsepower.

As soon as the paint was dry, Charlie took the car to the drag strip and pointed it at the finish line. Unfortunately his only test and tune (thus far) took place in late-fall of 2017. The car did make several successful passes, but the cold weather meant it never really hooked up as it should.

Not deterred, Charlie and the Vintage Modified Restorations team strongly believe this car has plenty more left to offer. This means there’s still a lot of tweaking and tuning to see exactly how quickly this car can cover 1320 feet.

Plated and fit with a 33-gallon tank, this car is certified for both the track and the street

Until he has the opportunity to really tune the car, Charlie is happy bringing the ‘Vette to shows all across the U.S. It’s already done the late-winter, indoor show circuit, consisting of  Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.

Not a trailer queen, the big gas tank Vintage Modified Restorations installed allows Charlie to drive worry free to local events.

Subtle isn’t a word we’d ever use to describe Clockwork Orange, but this over-the-top car is in all aspects a very fun car. It’s impossible to look at this car and not crack at least a small smile. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the man dressed in plaid in the photo above.

It’s futile-to-resist smirking this car invokes, is exactly why we love it.

About the author

Dave Thomas

Currently living near Toronto, Dave spends much of his free time behind a camera at car events, and likes just about anything with wheels, but usually the lower the better. When not taking photos, writing articles, or going upside down on his bike he can be found in the shop wrenching on his 1951 GMC pickup.
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