When Pat Lynch, 62, began looking for a sports car, there was only one style he wanted. Ironically, it was also a '62-a straight-axle Corvette. He found a '62 convertible body in a newspaper ad and drove to a nearby town to take a look. He brought along Mike Walsh from the Early Vette Shop in Shohola, Pennsylvania, to see if it would make a good base. Mike, having dealt with the owner of the car before and seeing the unmarred body, affirmed it would work.
But when Pat brought the car home to Chester, New Jersey, his wife, Sue, wasn't so convinced. "She went ballistic that I had brought home this piece of junk," Pat says. "But I told her not to worry, I knew what I was doing."
What Pat was doing was laying the groundwork for a straight-axle Corvette with late-model technology. After a 15-month restoration, the car would feature posh leather upholstery and a stock '01 LS1 engine with 348 cubic inches. But, Mike says the car began as just an empty shell, missing about 90 percent of the trim.
Mike says, "Because the frame was completely done and would have to be stripped and blasted and shipped, we opted to buy another reproduction frame and have Paul Newman Car Creations start with a clean, pit-free piece and use the other frame for another project."
Pat says while he had a good idea of how he wanted the car to turn out, when Mike and his brother Joe made suggestions, he listened. And when it came to the selection of the Newman chassis, Pat couldn't be more pleased.
"There's no doubt the frame has a lot to do with the ride quality," Pat says. "Also, the insulation installed with the upholstery helps muffle the sound."
The car rides on '02 Corvette wheels (17x811/42) and 255/45ZR17 Bridgestone Potenza tires. Its late-model flavor is obvious on the exterior, and subtle on the inside.
"The Magnetic Magenta red was a custom color on '00s that not a lot of people ordered," Pat says. "I like different-color coves. But [in this case], I thought the color would make the car."
Master Upholstery of Newton, New Jersey, combined black leather with Oak Mercedes-Benz carpeting and a hidden Custom Autosound stereo with Pioneer speakers. The seats are stitched to resemble the '02 pattern, and the dash [which features a leather dashpad] includes Auto Meter gauges and a Ron Francis LS1 control system.
It took some engineering on Mike's part, but he was also able to fit a Vintage Air A/C unit, while Jerry Ambrosi of Master Upholstery did the convertible-top stitching.
"I can't say enough about Mike and the job the Early Vette Shop did," Pat says. "The only thing I can say about Mike is, thank God he's anal."
This Corvette's blend of comfort and performance makes it the perfect classic driver. "It drives like a new car," Pat says. "It really pays to have the Dana 44 rearend and the six-speed manual. We drive it nearly every weekend; anytime we have a sunny day. Of course, just going to get gas takes 30 minutes because everyone wants to look at it."
Apparently, people are not only looking, they are attempting to emulate it, because Pat says Mike has received numerous calls from customers who want to perform the same type of restoration. However, Pat says he doesn't think most people understand the time and expense required for such a project.
Projects like Pat's continue to combine the best of old Corvette styling, new performance technology, and aftermarket creativity. It's a growing trend, and one that promotes using Corvettes for their created purpose: driving.