The '62 Corvette is a lot of things. It's a "first and last" car-the first year for the 327, the last year for the C1 platform. It's the most-seen C1, as its production total of 14,531 was the most for the first-gen Vette. It also makes an ideal platform for a resto-mod, like the one seen here.
Built by Clute, Texas' Street Rod Concepts, this '62 is now gracing Loria Select Motors in Fern Park, Florida (near Orlando). At first look, you'd think it's only received a new set of wheels and tires. Then you notice the hoodscoop. Then you notice the exhaust outlets just aft of the doors. Then you realize this is no re-shod stocker.
It's an eye-grabber now, but the only attention it got before builder Rik King started on it was about how rough it was. "That car was a basket case. It was pretty bad," he says. "I sold the original frame to a gentleman in Wisconsin who had a '62 Vette with a frame that was rusted out."
As King's Street Rod Concepts shop in Clute, Texas, (near Houston) is a dealer for Art Morrison and Heidt's, the chassis choice was clear. King says, "I bought that frame from Art Morrison without a front end or rear end on it. We put Heidt's independent rear suspension in back. we had that made the narrowest they could make it so I could get the big wheels under it. In the front, a Mustang II-type Heidt's Super Ride independent front suspension went in, with the center crossmember bowed so the engine fit better."
When King says engine, it's not an original '62 mill, not by a long shot. There's a 427ci Merlin small-block between the framerails, wearing period-correct script valve covers, and a Hilborn fuel-injection setup that combines the look of the original mechanical system with modern EFI technology. It's bolted to a Long-shifted Richmond Gear six-speed manual gearbox, with a 3.70 Posi out back.
The body received as much, if not more, attention as the chassis. New fenders and quarters replaced the original pieces, and a new rear valence sporting six taillights also went in. The new bodywork also included ultra-wide rear wheelwells made from hand-fabricated steel masters that molds were pulled from; then fiberglass tubs were made from the molds and 'glassed in. The new bodywork, combined with the narrowed Heidt's suspension, fits today's wide wheels and tires without the flat-wheels-to-the-fender-line look that many resto-modded C1s have. "I wanted to do it where the wheels were tucked in, and you had some backspacing in 'em to where it didn't look like a C4 or C5 suspension, but looked period-correct," says King. "I was going for that mean look, that street look, that resto-rod look."
One element of that look that wasn't in the original plan is the scoop over the Hilborn's injector stacks and air cleaners. King says the wife of the original owner, who commissioned the build, and he had a difference of opinion over the hole cut in the hood. Kings relates, "She walked up to it and looked at it, and said, 'I don't like that.' I said, 'What do you mean you don't like that-that looks wonderful.' She said, 'I don't want to see that stuff while I'm driving it.' I said, 'What do you want?' She replied, 'Some kind of a hoodscoop.'" Along with the scoop, King and his crew added a perforated stainless steel insert in the scoop's opening, as well as on several other locations around the car for a different kind of resto-mod look.
Inside, there's a custom-fabbed console by Street Rod Concepts that holds the Long shifter, Vintage Air HVAC control panel, stereo head unit, and two cove-shaped A/C ducts. There's also a set of one-off Classic Industries gauges in the stock dash openings, and a pair of refashioned stock seats. That was done by a company in Kemah, Texas, (between Galveston and Houston on I-45) named Rivera Services. They did the design on the inside of the new fiberglass door panels to match the outside coves.