Ben McMurry's '62 Corvette is really a C5. Plain and simple. The closer you look, the more you'll see exactly what we mean. Ben transplanted the '62 body using C5 suspension components, including the easy-to-spot late-model wheels and LS1 engine.
"Everybody's got a C5," Ben says. "How many did they sell? About 30,000 a year?"
Don't misunderstand him; Ben likes the C5s. In fact, his latest Corvette buy was a '98 convertible, purchased on October 15, 1997.
"When I got back to Atlanta with it-I took delivery at the National Corvette Museum-I had three people [try] to give me $10,000 [over what I paid for it]." Instead, Ben kept his C5 convertible. Today, the mileage stands at 8,800. Apparently, it's a keeper.
In 1994, he purchased a '62 Corvette body. His intention was to plant a C4 ('84-'96) underneath the straight-axle classic. However, there was just "too much difference" between the two Corvettes. "I waited until they came out with a longer wheelbase Corvette to put the body on," he says. "When they did, they also put the gas door on the left-hand side of the car, which worked out perfectly with the '62."
Ben owns a Corvette specialty shop in Fayetteville, Georgia. He says his Corvette Country buys and sells a little bit, but concentrates mostly on service, paint, and bodywork. In business for 31 years, he began specializing in Corvettes in 1985.
Ben admits to having been a Jaguar man in his younger days while both of his brothers had Corvettes. "I saw prices on regular cars keep dropping down and Corvettes didn't," he says. "That's why I decided to get straight into Corvettes."
One of his favorites was the '62. But like a lot of us, Ben favored the ride and creature comforts of his C5. With years of experience and his own shop behind him, Ben embarked down a seldom-traveled path: He put the '62 body onto a C5 chassis, complete with the late-model interior.
Most of us have seen the C5 customized to look like an older Corvette, and one popular conversion resembles the original '53. In contrast, Ben's C5 is topped with a real '62 body. This conversion was a tall order, the complete details of which Ben says are extremely hard to explain.
"I had to cut out the '62 floorboard, the firewall, and I had to do a lot of cutting in the trunk area to make everything fit," he says. "All of the outside door latches, all the inside door latches, all the mechanisms that make the door work are all C5, so I had to do a lot of modifying to the doorjamb and the door."
The contrast of a '62 cockpit fitted with a C5 dash and seats is striking, to say the least. "I just had to trim the pad, and then I had to put a little dash cap on it because it didn't fit all the way up," Ben explains. Having built a couple of Grand Sports using a C4 chassis, he was experienced in the art of Corvette hybrid creation. One Grand Sport was a ZR1. Another was built from a '96 Grand Sport.
"I did them basically the same way with all the modern conveniences," he says. "Everything that was on the car is on these cars and everything works, including the power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, and all that."
Fire up this hybrid '62 Corvette and you're basically driving a C5. You have running lights and backup lights, even side-marker lights (off a '68 Corvette). "Everything," Ben says, "is Corvette except the Buick LeSabre side mirrors, which are fully electric." The exhausts route out the back like a C5, but the "bezels" came off a '72 Corvette.
"It took us 211/42 years to build it," Ben adds. "It took a lot of fitting and engineering. It's something you just don't do quickly."
This red '62 is a C5 in every way, save for the retro look of the body-and price. Ben says he's turned down $180,000 for his car. He's not selling, plain and simple.