Case Study – 1955 Corvette Hood Latch Springs

In April 2014, Peninsula Spring received a call from Marvin Sikes out of Atlanta, GA inquiring about a set of custom compression springs for his wife, Carolyn’s 1955 Corvette. One of the original hood-latch springs had broken, and at that time, all replacement springs had been improperly reproduced resulting in dozens of Corvette hoods closing improperly. When closed, the hood would stick up about a half-inch. Marvin was hoping I could reverse-engineer new springs that would look and perform identical to the original springs. However, the original broken springs had been thrown away, and all that was left to work with were the incorrect replacement springs.

To complicate matters, the 55’ Corvette was set to be shown at Keels and Wheels Concours D’Elegance, located in Seabrook, TX, in just a few weeks. I worked with Marvin and his son, Marty, to obtain all the dimensions of the replacement springs, along with the springs’ physical requirements. 

As a car enthusiast and collector, this project piqued my interest because Carolyn’s Corvette had never been restored. In fact, it was a like-new survivor! Most people looking at the car had a hard time believing it wasn’t a fresh restoration. The Corvette spent the first third of its life in a dealership showroom, and the second third in a small museum. Marvin and Caroline have been caring for it ever since.

With no revisions, I designed a properly functioning spring that still looked identical to both the OEM and replacement springs. Peninsula Spring quickly manufactured two sets and shipped them to Marvin’s home in Georgia for a trial fit. The design was a 100% success!

Throughout this process, Marvin and I developed a kindred spirit and he and Carolyn invited my wife, Ashley, and I to join them at the Keels & Wheels car show. We flew down to Seabrook, TX and met Marvin, Carolyn and their son, Marty for the first time. From there, a life-long friendship began.

The Grand Marshal of that year’s car show was Wayne Carini, host of “Chasing Classic Cars,” who presented Marvin & Carolyn Sikes with the “Best in Class” award at the 2014 Keels & Wheels Concours D’Elegance.

Over the next few years, we stayed at their home and traveled to the Hilton Head Concours together, sharing experiences we would have never had without a chance encounter through a broken spring and a mutual love of cars.

Sadly, Marvin passed away in 2016, but we continued our close relationship with Carolyn until her passing in late October of 2023. Carolyn was loved by many, both inside and outside of the collector car world. She was the type of person to light up the room when she walked in, and she made everyone feel like family.

She once told us that when she sees her reflection in a rear-view mirror she realizes, “I’m just an old lady in an old car.” However, “If I’m in one of my cars and I’m driving and I don’t look at the rearview mirror or see my reflection in the window, I am 16 years old again and driving a brand-new car again.

In loving memory of Marvin and Carolyn,
who found joy and freedom on the open road, steering through life’s journey with passion and enthusiasm.
May their spirits continue to ride the winds of adventure.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *