When a car sticks around for over half a century, it tends to build quite a narrative for itself, assuming there’s still someone around to tell it. The first few decades of life for this 1962 Corvette remain buried in the pages of history, but the last 20 years is clear as day thanks to its current owner Jerry Bentley. And even though much of its story is nowhere to be found, this Vette has gone through more than enough in the past couple of decades to grab our attention.
Jerry’s story with the Corvette started about 20 years ago when he found it in the Auto Trader classifieds out in Southern California. The pictures showed a car that was a far cry from what it was when it rolled off the production line in 1962, but he had been searching for a while and decided this one was still worth the drive. He left his hometown in Phoenix, Arizona and headed to see the car in Orange County, California.
The body, paint and interior were all in disarray but that didn’t stop Jerry, he handed over the necessary funds, grabbed the keys and proceeded to drive it back to Arizona. At that time, Jerry wanted to enjoy his C1 Corvette just the way Chevrolet built it back in 1962, so he began the process of restoring it. “It became a total frame-off, numbers-matching car. That became phase one,” recalls Jerry. Phase one lasted quite a while, but over the years, it became clear that a change was in order—driving around a stocker was nice, but it was time to up the ante and turn it into something special.
“I decided to change the Vette into something different but keep the original appearance with its low and sleek look,” Jerry told us.
By this time, he had relocated to Southern California where he came into contact with Bryan Barba of Bryan’s Custom Restorations in Fullerton, California. Jerry worked closely with Bryan to formulate a perfect new look and feel for his ’62. The resulting product is, at first glance, just a clean 1962 Corvette with a set of wheels. It’s not until you catch a glimpse of the rear tires and notice their absurd girth that you start to wonder what else this car is hiding.
What it’s hiding is a completely updated suspension and drivetrain, which brings this antiquated American sports cars into the modern era.
Let’s start with the chassis modifications. Up front, all the old bits and pieces were torn out and swapped for suspension from a C4 Corvette and in the rear it’s a similar story, with a four-link system out of a C4. The four-link is attached to a Ford 9-inch from Currie Enterprises complete with a limited-slip differential and 4.30:1 gears. To give Jerry’s Corvette the ride quality and cornering capabilities he wanted, Aldan American provided coilovers for all four corners. Finally, Jerry had it all chromed by Orange County Chrome to add a little show to the suspension.
The braking components are four wheel discs sourced from, you guessed it, a C4 Corvette with the hydraulic master cylinder, booster and proportioning valve all from Bosch.
Now for the fun stuff. Jerry didn’t want your average 350 small-block or generic LS for his unique Vette. He wanted something that would not only look the business, but have the performance to match. What better engine to check those boxes than a Bill Mitchell “Hardcore” World Products 427ci small-block. Now, technically speaking, this is a 350 small-block but it isn’t generic by any means. Inside the 4.125-inch bore and 4.000-inch stroke short-block is an Eagle 4340 crankshaft driving Mahle pistons giving this 350 a new total of 427 cubic inches. A Hardcore solid lifter camshaft and World Motown aluminum cylinder heads complement the extra cubes. It gets even more interesting the higher up you go on this 427 because between the aluminum heads sit a Hilborn Injection EFI with individual horizontal stacks. Add all those goodies together and Bill Mitchell World Products claims a stout 550 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque. A set of 1 3/4-inch S&S Headers, a fully ceramic coated system and Flowmaster mufflers turn that power into satisfying sound.
Behind the 427 is a six-speed TREMEC unit with a McLeod Racing clutch and lightened flywheel. Then, transferring power to the 9-inch rear is a custom driveshaft from Inland Empire Drive Line in Ontario, California.
Close the hood and Jerry’s C1 goes back into stealth mode. The jet black paint on a completely stock body and trim don’t hint at any of those goodies underneath. It’s just those wheels that give it all away—they are Eric Vaughn Real Rodders Wheels powdercoated platinum grey and measuring 15x6 up front and 15x12 out back. Those big ’ol tires are Mickey Thompson 26x7.50-15 and 29x15.50-15 radials.
Take a seat inside and it’s the same story with little deviation from stock. The seats are wrapped in red leather by Ron Magnus Hot Rod Interiors of Rialto, California, with matching door cards and center console. An ididit steering column blends in nicely with a stock-appearing but downsized steering wheel. What is noticeably less stock is the custom shift knob and the placard next to it which indicates six forward gears instead of four.
Jerry’s impeccable taste in blending early ’60s style with modern power and quality yielded a car that won’t go unnoticed. And, in fact, it hasn’t gone unnoticed and has already won multiple awards at car shows around Southern California and Arizona. At the renowned Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, it won first place in the Street Machine Custom ’49-’64 category, adding yet another page to its decades-old narrative.
Photography by Eric Geisert