When you begin work on the project car of your dreams, you don’t usually plan on starting up a successful company along with it. Such is the case with Barry Perlin of Chesterton, Indiana, a practicing dentist whose 1960 Corvette spawned a whole new business of its own.
He was looking to build a stock-appearing 1960 Corvette but wanted more performance than the stock parts would allow. One of the limiting factors being the scrawny 15-inch steel wheels that required thin tires, normally with wide whitewalls—not optimal for taking corners at speed. He had seen a few custom builds where wheels with mock-whitewalls were used, but the price was insanely high. To combat this, he made it his goal to create a 20-inch wheel with simulated whitewalls at a more affordable price point.
Soon thereafter, Barry, with the help of his friend Jason Coleman who is a CAD designer by trade, started Deluxe Wheel Company (www.deluxewheels.com). They offer a 20-inch wheel that replicates a 15-inch steel wheel with a 2 1/2-inch sidewall. The larger wheel diameter allows for a high-performance, low-profile tire to be used as well as more clearance for upgraded disc brakes.
So where did this whole thing start anyway? Well, after years of wanting to build a car that was the same age as himself, Barry finally picked up a 1960 Corvette. At first he thought he was settling for “close enough” since he was born in 1959, but he soon found out the car’s build date was actually December 1959, just a couple months after he was born. Better yet, as he dove into restoring the Corvette, Barry found a date-stamp on the speedometer that read October 28, 1959—the day after he was born!
With this newfound information, Barry was no longer settling, he was building his dream car. But there was still a long way to go as the Vette was in pretty rough shape. He found out that sometime in its past the Corvette had been crashed so badly that the rear half of the car had to be completely cut off and the back half of another car grafted on in its place. The repair was highly flawed; the floorboards were held together with cheap plywood and the door fitment was less than optimal.
More than just mending the poor collision repair, Barry wanted to retrofit his 1960 Corvette with suspension from a C4—a trick he had seen done in the February 2005 issue of Vette magazine to a car dubbed Xtreme ’60.
To accomplish this feat, Barry called up Paul Newman at Newman Car Creations in Templeton, California, and they got to work converting the C1 frame to accept the C4 suspension components. Once the frame and body were separated, it became clear that the old frame was a no-go. The welds holding the split frame together were mediocre at best, so they decided to ditch the original frame and use another 1960 frame Paul just so happened to have lying around in his shop. He made the needed modifications and got the new frame ready to go with complete C4 stock suspension.
The body was then split apart again, re-indexed and fitted correctly before the steel reinforcement in the rocker panels were reconnected to prevent flex. Before the body was ready for paint, Barry wanted to add one more touch to his dream 1960 in the form of widened rear quarter-panels. Chasing a similar look as the Xtreme ’60, Barry got in touch with its builder, Bill Verboon, to source the 1 1/2-inch flared quarter-panels. Then Barry, with the help of his friend Doug Underwood, fitted the new fiberglass and prepped the whole body for paint. Using House of Kolor paint, they sprayed the Vette black with silver coves. The freshly painted body was then attached to the modified chassis along with bumpers rechromed by S&H Plating of Madison, Tennessee.
Bringing together the stock appearance of the car are the Deluxe Wheel Company Wide Whitewall wheels measuring 20x8.5 front and 20x10 rear that allow for the performance-oriented tires and big brakes. Barry used BFGoodrich Potenza rubber sized 215/45R20 and 245/40R20. Behind the classic-looking wheels sit Wilwood disc brakes with 14-inch slotted and cross-drilled rotors and six-piston calipers at all four corners assisted by an ABS Power Brake master cylinder and brake booster.
Take a look inside and you still might not be able to tell that this 1960 Corvette is anything other than a stock restoration; you have to get in the car to feel the subtle differences. Instead of vinyl on the dash and door panels, Barry used leather replacements from Al Knoch Interiors. He also covered the seats in leather and added in a reclining function—a luxury not available from the factory. A Specialty Power Windows electric window kit along with a Wonder Bar replica radio with AM/FM modernizes the experience further. Finally, a set of Stewart-Warner gauges were modified slightly to fit the sock bezels.
The trickery applied to the exterior and interior of this C1 didn’t carry over into the engine bay though. As soon as you open the hood, the beans are spilled because there sits a 5.3L LS1 and T-56 six-speed out of a 2002 Camaro SS. The engine and trans were sourced from Street & Performance and came complete with a converted harness and re-tuned CPU. A polished chrome LS6 intake from Lingenfelter Performance and a set of Corvette coil covers were added to the otherwise factory LS1. To keep the engine running at optimal temperatures, Barry installed a March Performance water pump and a Be Cool aluminum radiator. The exhaust gasses are taken care of by a custom system fabricated by US 12 Speed & Custom of New Buffalo, Michigan. Street & Performance block-hugging headers connect to 2 1/2-inch pipes and Flowmaster mufflers before exiting out the stock bumper.
Close the hood again, take a step back and you almost forget the secrets behind the beautiful stock appearance. And that is exactly what Barry wanted. Lucky for us, to accomplish his goal a new company was started, opening up all-new possibilities. Now every time you run across a stock-looking C1 Corvette and wonder how stock it really is, you can thank Barry Perlin and Deluxe Wheel Company.