Gerald Copeland’s ’62 Starlight Silver Corvette

Copeland’s ’62 may be non-stock silver, but he’s sure got the Midas touch

Jim Frye Jul 1, 2000 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

This ’62 Starlight Silver small-block coupe is owner Gerald Copeland’s favorite. And he has a lot to choose from. Over the years he’s acquired an all-original ’67 big-block convertible and a modified ’68 small-block convertible, and he just bought another ’62 that he’ll reconfigure using an LS1 engine and a 4160E trans.

As owner and operator of A&A Tool Co. Inc., a full-service tool and die machine shop, Gerald is afforded ample opportunity to tinker and toy with his Corvette collection. “I have the capabilities of all the machine work,” he says, “including CNC-machining, which is very helpful in building cars. I also have a shop at home where the cars are built and stored.”

Just a year and a half after purchasing the rough-looking silver ’62 coupe at a swap meet not more than 25 miles from his Tifton, Georgia, home, Gerald has brought the car to its award-winning beauty with the help of friends and Gerald’s 21-year-old son. c“I looked for a ’62 for several years,” says Gerald. “But all I found were half-restored cars with big price tags. I traveled to Kentucky to look at one, but the frame was a total rust case. I located this one just 25 miles from home.”

Gerald wasn’t immediately impressed with his find, but further examination found a perfect frame and everything in place. “The color was not correct. The engine was not correct, and the car needed stripping and massive body work,” he says.

The ’62 body, after being removed from the frame, was completely stripped by blasting with walnut shells. Gerald found that under its four to five layers of paint, the body was in pretty good shape.

Everything “went pretty much on course, other than the frame cracks,” says Gerald. The cracks appeared in the front fenders, but he decided not to fix them until everything was finished. A few joy-rides later, though, he noticed the cracks worsening. “I stripped everything off the car and repainted it, not wanting to take a chance on the metallic paint not matching. We reinforced the front fenders and the car turned out much better. Hard work does pay off!” (The Starlight Silver paint, while not a Corvette color, is a standard GM shade.)

Gerald’s modifications include a fat-man’s rack-and-pinion, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, and digital gauges. The ZZ4 engine pulls 350-355 horses with new headers and two Edelbrock 500-cfm carburetors. The red deluxe interior and Starlight Silver sheen outside gets much attention when Gerald and wife, Diane, take their pride and joy to weekend shows. “I drive my cars to local shows and events,” he says. “Limited space prevents traveling out of town to shows. Since my [newest] car is not original, I attend shows that have classes for it. I enjoy going to NCRS and Bloomington events.”

Don’t call Gerald wanting to buy his cars. They’re keepers. “I usually keep the cars, since they are built the way I really like,” he says. “But I’m always looking for the next project.” He suspects his next ’62 will be complete in just about a year and a half. Until then, though, he’ll be enjoying the fruits of his most recent labor, and most likely bringing home more awards. “One and a half years and many dollars later, the car is finally what I want it to be,” he says. “I’ve shown it to the former owner, and he was very impressed.” Seems almost everyone who sees the car is impressed.

This ’62 has been adding to the already-burgeoning display of show trophies and awards Gerald has won with his other cars: The ’68 won Best of Corvette Expo; the ’67 is a four-time Super Chevy class winner and Best of Corvette Expo winner, and boasts other awards from a number of smaller shows. Not to be outdone, the newest member of the family brought home something for Gerald to add to the trophy case. At its first show it was awarded ESPN’s Award of Excellence, Class Winner, and Best Corvette. Not bad for a beginner. Actually, not bad for a veteran. Not bad at all.

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