Richard Prince writer
Apr 14, 2016
America’s obsession with the automobile was at a fever pitch in the 1960s, and like just about every other youngster coming of age in that decade, Phil Castaldo was utterly obsessed with hot cars. His first job was pumping gas at a Sunoco station in Massapequa, New York, and he went from there to working as a mechanic. Castaldo began accumulating a collection of fast cars and parts for them early on, before prices got out of hand, with a focus on Chevrolet in general and rare Corvettes in particular. After building a very successful business as a 7-Eleven owner, his car collecting went into overdrive. To house the cars and parts and allow for serious restoration work, he built a dream garage in back of his home. The existing garage, built by the house’s previous owner decades ago, was designed to hold the trucks and equipment for a well-drilling company, so it was a spacious 27×30 feet with a very high roof and sturdy construction. Phil built a 1,600-square-foot addition onto that, for a total of 2,410 square feet. He uses the original portion for all of the dirty work associated with restoration and the addition for storage of a dozen cars and final assembly of cars he’s restoring. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the restoration work for Phil is working side-by-side with his son, also named Phil, who’s equally adept at blueprinting engines, doing full paint jobs, or anything else needed. The second floor above the clean area is stuffed with thousands of NOS and used parts. All together, it’s truly a car-lovers paradise.
1. The clean section of Phil’s garage is used for car storage and final assembly of cars he’s restoring. This refinished 1963 Corvette chassis is ready to receive all the parts necessary to build it up into a complete car. It’s a fuel-injected convertible that father and son are restoring to National Corvette Restorers Society specifications.
2. By the time parts and assemblies make it to the clean portion of Phil’s garage, they are rebuilt, refinished, and ready to bolt on. This complete fuel-injected engine assembly has been dyno’d and is ready for installation on the 1963 Corvette chassis it’s sitting next to.
3. This is a super-rare, L88-powered 1967 Corvette that’s meticulously restored and bone stock except for period-correct American Racing Torque Thrust D mags.
4. The NCRS Top Flightquality Elkhart Blue 1967 Corvette is fitted with a three-carb 427/435hp engine.
5. This L72 427/425hp Daytona Yellow 1966 Corvette coupe is anything but subtle. If the big-block’s roar and searing yellow color aren’t enough to grab your attention, it’s one of only 66 Corvettes made in 1966 with option N06, a fiberglass 36-gallon fuel tank mounted in the rear stowage area behind the seats.
6. This Daytona Blue 1964 coupe features the legendary Rochester fuel-injection setup atop its forged-internals, high-compression, big-valve-head, hot-cam 327 engine. But the really striking part of this car is not its fuel injection, instead it’s the ultra-rare white leather interior.
7. Corvette’s small-block Chevy engine went from 283 to 327 ci for 1962, and this stunning example wears factory fuel injection, making it good for 360 hp in a durable, high-revving package.
8. If you wanted to have a crack at GT honors in the 1958 12 Hours of Sebring, or any other endurance race, this was the hot ticket: a fuel-injected, four-speed 1958 Corvette fitted with Positraction and RPO 684, the mega-rare, heavy-duty brakes and suspension option package. Because of their intended purpose, very few of the 144 RPO 684 Corvettes produced in 1958 survive.
9. This Cascade Green 1956 Corvette is equipped with a factory dual-quad induction system atop a high-compression, solid-lifter, 265-cid engine rated at 225 hp, which made it a formidable competitor on the street or strip in its era. Phil knows the history of this car all the way back to the original owner, with whom he has spoken.
10. This largely original and extremely correct 1953 is the 229th Corvette built. Like all 300 1953s produced, it’s Polo White with a Sportsman Red interior and powered by a 150hp inline-six backed up by Chevy’s two-speed Powerglide automatic. Phil bought it in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, exactly 30 years ago from noted six-cylinder Corvette expert John Rohner.
11. An array of the thousands of parts that go into a 1965 Corvette are on top of and underneath this table.
12. Phil firmly believes that one can never have too much of anything when it comes to spare parts. Original big- and small-block Corvette radiators from the 1960s are ready to go when called into service.
13. Very accurate reproduction upholstery for nearly all vintage Corvettes is readily available but original upholstery in good condition is quite rare. These 1967 seats have seen some action but show no damage and very little wear.
14. You never know when you might need a midyear door or other early Corvette body part. Phil has a good supply of original parts gathered over his many decades in the hobby.
15. Original Corvette wheels in great condition are difficult to find these days. Original Corvette tires are infinitely more difficult to source. Phil has both on hand if needed to complete a Concours-quality restoration.
16. What is the sensible course of action when you are a swap-meet vendor? Premade displays, of course.
17. Various early Corvette wheel covers hang from the roof rafters like jewelry.
18. No matter how small or obscure the part, it’s likely in Phil’s garage somewhere. This is the reward for buying vintage parts before they were vintage and saving everything and anything over the years.
19. Original, undamaged 19631967 dashpads are scarcer than an honest politician. Phil has several in stock just in case the need arises.
20. Oil pans, brake drums, clutch discs, pressure plates, and flywheels are all on hand if needed.
21. Rear-wheel bearing hubs, driveshafts, and a host of other suspension and driveline parts are here, there, and everywhere.