If there are two classic shapes in Corvette history, the mid-year ('63-'67) and the '62 (last of the straight-axle Corvettes) are two of the most recognizable. In essence, most casual Corvette fans think of these shapes first when the word "Corvette" is uttered. But, for true Corvette enthusiasts, these cars present two very different styles of performance, comfort, and handling, each offering Chevrolet's ultimate high-speed human delivery for occupants for the era in which they were created.
Both Chris Porter and Carol Bernhardt are residents of North Carolina who share two critical components, which makes this Corvette swap comparison appropriate. First, they drive their cars a lot. Both Carol and Chris drive their Corvettes over 10,000 miles each year, Carol having completed her restoration in August 2002 and Chris a year earlier. With that much seat time under their belts, they have a clear perspective on their cars and the comfort features they desire most.
The second common point to this comparison is that neither car is "bone stock." Both Carol and Chris have modified their cars heavily. What remains are two personalized Corvettes that reflect not only the cars but the personalities of the owners.
'62 Fawn Beige Corvette
Lexington, North Carolina
Carol Bernhardt's Fawn Beige '62 is not created for the show-only circuit. Built specifically for her tastes, the '62 utilizes a RamJet 350ci crate engine with a T56 six-speed transmission and rolls on C4 Corvette suspension, an increasingly common swap for first-generation Corvettes. Carol made this change, using an '84 "donor car" and modifying the stock '62 frame to accept the suspension pieces. A custom exhaust system sports mirror-finished stainless steel mufflers. The interior utilizes re-covered '84 Corvette seats and significant under-chassis re-fiberglass work to adapt to the '84 Corvette suspension components. Chrome 16x7-inch "smoothies" and Michelin Pilot tires provide a new look and excellent ride.
'64 Ermine White Convertible
Lewisville, North Carolina
Chris Porter's '64 is more original in style, but also utilizes a late-model 440-plus-horsepower, 350ci engine that breathes through factory-style side exhausts. The suspension modifications are limited to a rear fiberglass leaf spring to improve the ride, while the rest of the interior and body retain the stock configuration. The 700-R4 transmission gives him excellent performance and highway gearing, making long drives a breeze. Michelin Sport radial tires and 16x7-inch wheels offer form and function for this classic machine.
What is the one thing you wish you could add to your Corvette that the other owner's Corvette has and why?
Chris Porter commenting on Carol Bernhardt's '62: Updated frame to accept a C4 transmission to get a better ride and improved handling. My wife and I put over 17,000 miles on our Corvette in the last two years and the ride is OK, but the C4 handling would be a great improvement.
Carol Bernhardt commenting on Chris Porter's '64: One nice feature of Chris' car is that it has shoulder belts. We thought of putting them in my car when we were building it, but there was no practical way to do it, so I ended up with just lap belts.
If you were going to change anything about this car, what would it be?
Chris Porter: More horsepower. Do you really need to ask why? 355 horses are great; but when you're used to 440-plus, there does seem to be a noticeable difference.
Carol Bernhardt: Probably the color. White just doesn't do much for me.When driving this Corvette, it's better than mine because
When driving this Corvette, it's better than mine because....
Chris Porter: Must be nice to have a trunk! I didn't drive the car, but the six-speed would be great to play with. The Bernhardts' attention to detail was great.
Carol Bernhardt: I can't answer the question fully because I have never driven Chris's car; I've only sat behind the wheel and looked it over carefully. Plus I am rather biased since my husband and I built the '62 to my specifications and it came out just the way I wanted.
I prefer my car because...
Chris Porter: It's a mid-year. Honestly, mid-years are our favorite-the looks, the lines. They are just second to none. Not to mention, I was born in 1965 so that has to be good for something.
Carol Bernhardt: It is classier and exactly what I wanted.
When I consider this generation of Corvette, my initial impressions are...
Chris Porter: Man, I wish my 6-foot, 4-inch frame could sit comfortably behind the wheel. The trunk sure would be nice on a road trip.
Carol Bernhardt: I remember when the '63s first came out and my first reaction was, wow, real space-age styling, sleek, smooth, and aerodynamic. The mid-year style is a classic.
Will my next Corvette be more like this car or my own?
Chris Porter: Our next mid-year will either be a Grand Sport replica or a Pro Street coupe, but it will have updated suspension and a manual transmission.
Carol Bernhardt: As far as I'm concerned, this will always be my Corvette. My husband and I are about to embark on another project car for him: a '59 that we intend to customize the way he wants. So I guess, in a roundabout way, this answers the question. Now that Chris has replaced the Powerglide with a 700-R4, my husband is thinking of maybe putting one in his '59 project car.
If you were to drive this car a long distance, what necessities would you take?
Chris Porter: A shoehorn to get me in and a chainsaw to get me out. Did I mention it would be nice to have a trunk?
Carol Bernhardt: Well, since it doesn't have a trunk like a "real" Corvette, a trailer might be a necessity. Also, with those side pipes, earplugs might come in handy, particularly on long trips.
From past personal comments you made to friends and family about this "other" generation of Corvettes, have you changed your opinion based on this Corvette swap?
Chris Porter: I've always liked C1s, but I am the type of Corvette owner that really likes to drive my Corvette, and it would be hard for me to be comfortable in a C1 on a long road trip because of my height. My brother-in-law said something that will stick with me forever: "I wouldn't have a trailer queen." I'm in total agreement with him. Our family believes classic cars are meant to be enjoyed and driven. That's what we try to do. I believe the Bernhardts are of the same mindset, as we always see them at shows, at numerous local events, and even at Corvettes at Carlisle [which is where this feature was created.
Carol Bernhardt: No, I'm quite satisfied with my "CAROLS62" Corvette.