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.
Other neat touches include the systems that open, close, and hold closed the hood, decklid, and tonneau cover without latches. "We put the electric actuators on the hood so we didn't have to put any kind of a latch assembly on it," says King. "We also did the same thing on the trunk and the tonneau cover; there are no latches on them. They're all held down with the pressure from the electric actuators."
Street Rod Concepts added one item that was unplanned, but turned out beautifully: a custom grille made of 10-gauge, flat-rolled steel, per King. He says, "I sent the original grille to a chrome plater in Houston. They broke it in half and wouldn't admit they broke it. When it came back, the way they welded it and chromed it looked terrible. So I threw it away, and the owner said, 'Make me a nice custom grille.' One of the young guys who works for me made it and had it chromed. "
That owner sold the car not long after the two-year build finished, and Anthony Loria acquired it. "To drive this car is amazing. It drives better than it looks, and you know how it looks," he says with pride.
How amazing is it? On his way into the big YearOne Experience show at Road Atlanta, he found out, as did another show participant. Loria recalls, "I was at the bottom of that big hill when a '55 Chevy with a blown Merlin 540 comes up next to me and nails it. So I said, 'OK, buddy.' I nailed that thing, and my car just walked away from that guy. I was doing a buck-thirty coming up that hill!"
We saw it at Road Atlanta, and Loria says he plans on showing his '62 at some upcoming major events. However, an appearance at the '07 SEMA show was not scheduled, as of press time. "a lot of [project] cars being built for SEMA don't make it," Loria says, "and they look for somebody to fill their spot. I know of a couple right now whose projects are going bad and won't make it out there," which means a trip to Las Vegas might be in this car's future.
Details, Details Subtle mods such as side-exit exhausts and a six-taillight rear valance belie full-tilt, Hilborn-injected, Merlin 427, small-block, Art Morrison chassis and Heidt's suspension underneath. Wheels are American racing Torq-Thrust Ds, 18-inchers in front, 20s in back.
Hardware Under Glass New rear quarters replaced beat-on stock ones, with Street Rod Concepts adding exhaust outlets. Rearend is narrowed Heidt's IRS, combined with 20-inch American Racing Torq-Thrusts for a 21st century version of the '60s street look.
Tale Of The Tail Street Rod Concepts smoothed out the trunk by eliminating the spare tire well and fabricating 'glass wheeltubs. Subwoofer is behind the Corvette logo. Note relocated fuel filler inside the trunk and the absence of a trunk latch.
Retro Look, Modern Tech Thought it was a 327, didn't you? Hilborn injection setup atop this Merlin 427 small-block is an EFI made to look like a '60s-style mechanical system. Radiator is an AFCO custom-build. Note lack of hood latches, thanks to a hydraulic/electric actuator system.
Room With A View Long shifter for the Richmond Gear six-speed sprouts from custom-fabbed console, whose cove-style ducts are actually A/C outlets. Rivera Services cabin handiwork includes custom-upholstered stock '62 buckets and killer custom matching fiberglass door panels.
By The Numbers One-off gauge set by Classic Industries is right at home in the stock dash openings.
Center Of Attention Do consoles get any cooler? Street Rod Concepts' handiwork blends a Vintage Air HVAC controller, an Alpine stereo head unit, and cove-shaped A/C outlets.