The story of this 1965 Corvette restomod starts in a West Chester, Pennsylvania field in 1987 when John Puccella, owner of Trappe Automotive, spotted the car in the weeds.He saw the silhouette of the Nassau-blue mid-1960s Corvette and became intrigued. Although the car had been brutalized by weather and parts scavengers during its years in the field, Puccella was determined to bring it back to life and decided to buy the car. This would be the first of many struggles Puccella would face in regard to the Corvette.
The owner of the car was in jail, which forced Puccella to wait two years before he could buy it. After finally hauling it home, he discovered that very little of the car was restorable; only the frame could be saved. Still, Puccella was determined to resurrect the Corvette and rebuilt the front and rear suspension to create a rolling chassis for a body.
In 1990, Puccella scored parts gold when he acquired the body of a 1965 Corvette coupe, as well as three boxes of spare parts at a car show. He went to work, installing a modified 1988 Corvette motor and painting the car its original Nassau blue color.
“Knowing the car well, it took [me] about a second to commit to the purchase of [the] Corvette,” said Hofer. “[Puccella and I] both shared the dream of building a mid-year restomod.”Hofer had the project completed over a three-and-a-half-year span, in four distinct phases. The first phase included a trip to Puccella’s shop to map out the Corvette’s suspension. Hofer said he was looking to set the car up with an aggressive stance, so the two decided to install SpeedDirect’s Steeroids Power Rack and Pinion unit, a chrome ididit tilt steering column, off-set trailing arms, heavy-duty shortened front springs, a rear suspension lowering kit and a fiberglass mono spring.
Next, the car was stripped down to gel coat at Collegeville Auto Body. It was repainted with PPG’s Nassau Blue base coat and artist Kris Ziegler worked for 18 hours straight to apply the car’s custom airbrushed graphics before the clear coat was applied. The Corvette flags fleur de lis emblem was applied to the hood, with a more-subtle ghosted version of the graphic being applied to the rear window area and wrapping down to the taillight assembly. “This Corvette is so sexy to begin with, for me it was like putting makeup on a supermodel,” Ziegler told Hofer. “She doesn’t need it but looks damn good in it.”
For the car’s interior, Hofer decided to keep everything in the stock bright blue color, including the Corvette’s carpets, door panels, headliners and trim pieces. The 1975-style Corvette seats were covered in bright blue custom seat covers made by Al Knoch. He finished off the seats by adding a four-point roll bar and five-point harnesses to give the car a race-ready look.In May 2008, Hofer took his Corvette to the Liberty Region Corvette Show.
“It was an instant crowd-pleaser,” said Hofer, who added that the Corvette ended up taking home 15 awards at various car shows that season.The 2009 car show season resulted in 28 more awards for Hofer’s “Blue Angel,” as well as a spread in Corvette Magazine. It was around this time that Hofer and Puccella decided to switch up the Corvette’s engine and install a big-block. Veteran engine builder Big Al Page worked with Hofer to design the engine from scratch, starting with a hand-selected short block. “[I] told Big Al that I wanted that old-time ‘rompty romp’ nasty sound flowing through the factory sidepipes, but [I] also wanted it street-drivable,” said Hofer, who drives the Corvette to all of the shows he enters it into.
The engine switch gave the Corvette the extra horsepower and “nasty” sound Hofer was looking for. Puccella once again stepped in to convert the car’s engine and also install many more features under the hood, including a custom-fit DeWitt radiator and a custom chrome air induction system with matching one-off 427-etched valve covers by Walter Prosper Design. More changes have been made to the Corvette in recent years, including switching out the old 1975 seats for more sporty ones from a 1999 Corvette. Puccella also added SpeedDirect’s Shark Bite Coil-Over Shock Kit to help the car’s rear end look more put-together.
As much as he enjoys the competition, however, Hofer gets the most satisfaction when he shares the turbulent story of his car and how it was resurrected from the automotive grave.