This could be the next big thing in customizing: Take your average-handling vintage Corvette and pin it to the pavement with a late-model Corvette suspension. That's the driving force behind the Paul Newman Car Creations Corvette changeover system. And, no, Paul Newman of Cool Hand Luke fame isn't involved; Paul Newman of Templeton, California, has the right hand to deal the right parts for such a swap. Eggs not included.
Previously, it took a special effort to build such a conversion and there were plenty of purists who felt changing over from stock original to a later-model suspension was blasphemy. But, after driving one of these changeover Corvettes, no one we know is crying foul to the gods of pure Corvette restoration. In fact, the Newman chassis swap is making many of these previously difficult-to-restore Corvettes more popular than ever. There is a resurgent charge to make the change and drive these cars like the daily drivers they were meant to be when they rolled off the assembly line in St. Louis 40-plus years ago.
While Corvette fans will certainly see the difference with the later-model, low-profile tire and wheel packages, no exterior modifications are mandated by the swap. Not one additional sheet of fiberglass matte or Sawzall blade is required. Best of all, this conversion can be completed on any '53 through '82 Corvette, although different systems are utilized for straight-axle cars ('53-'62) as opposed to those with independent rearends. Whatever you have, there's a system for your car.
Total conversions using the Newman Car Creations system cost around $6,500, with a long list of optional equipment available to upgrade and enhance the ultimate handling of your suspension. Want to swap in an LS1 engine? Car Creations has the parts. Care to retain the original-equipment engine? Not a problem. The system also adapts to any transmission from Powerglide through six-speed manual, so go ahead and eat your cake. Car Creations has what you need.
Newman is no rookie to the car-building business. For many years, he fabricated sprint cars, sand buggies, and Trans Am sedans for various racing purposes. As far back as 1972, he built a winning Pikes Peak Hill Climb race car. His success in fabricating such roadworthy machines gave him the confidence to try something new.
But the beginnings of this revolutionary chassis design did not come overnight and without great dedication of Paul Newman and his wife. Michelle Newman realized a tube-frame conversion would be far too expensive to build and market. But, after carefully looking over the '53-'62 frames, the champion race-car builder saw extreme possibilities. Newman saw how he could modify the old X-member frame to accept the late-model C4 ('85-'96) Corvette springs, shocks, A-arms, and literally every other suspension component, including the disc brakes.
Blending the new C4 chassis with the stiffer original frame is a terrific suspension improvement, exceeding the standard C4's handling capability. Says Newman, "It's got a real neat X-member in it. It's all boxed and is a strong little frame. We figured it should work, so we gave it a whirl. And we kind of bet the farm on that deal. We borrowed money, Michelle and I, to quit working for about four months to develop this thing. First, we did the changeover on a '62 Corvette, the first one with the stock frame, which is the way we do it now."
The Newman Car Creations '53-'82 Corvettes offer a new way to enjoy these classic cars, with suspension upgrades far beyond what had previously been available. For owners of Corvettes with previously unrestorable chassis, or for those who are just looking to improve the ride comfort and handling performance of their cars, your ship has come in. Get ready-it's gonna be fun.
So, What Do I Get?Newman Car Creations chassis features:* Five-link independent rear suspension for outstanding ride and handling; totally tunable from cruising to racing.* Four-wheel disc brakes with aluminum calipers for maximum stopping power.* Rack-and-pinion steering for precise control.* Forged aluminum suspension components for less unsprung weight.* Computer-designed suspension geometry for optimum handling with modern radial tires.* Elastomer engine mounts for less noise and vibration.