The year 1962 was an interesting one. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the planet, Marilyn Monroe died at the age of 36, and those damn Yankees beat the San Francisco Giants in a close World Series, four games to three. This was also a great year for the Chevrolet marque, with the introduction of the venerable 327 small-block V-8, and models that fit every price range, from the Biscayne up to the Corvette. We happened upon a couple of '62 Chevys recently down in the warm climate of Florida, which is a perfect spawning ground for all types of automotive incarnations.
Big-Block SoundtrackLarry F. Thomas told us that his '62 Biscayne started as a project that "wouldn't have too much bling, but plenty of zing." This mantra is a welcome departure from the instincts of today's car owners, who often confuse simplicity with wild, "blingtastic" rims and flashy, "show queen" underhood adornments. The other factor Thomas included in the buildup was the necessity of a mammoth motor and a stick shift tranny.
Thomas purchased the car back in 2001, and towed it back to Florida to begin plans for the re-creation. The car originally came equipped with a six-cylinder lump, an automatic transmission, a bench seat interior, and without a radio-just the combination the new owner was looking for. Work began in 2004, with a complete disassembly of the car. The big-block power that resides under the hood comes via GM Performance Parts-specifically, a 502ci short-block mated to Brodix BB2 aluminum heads, with 9:1 compression and a Lunati hydraulic roller cam.
The fuel/air mixture is cooked up with an Edelbrock C-454 intake manifold with raised ports, and a Holley Dominator 750-cfm carburetor. Spent fuel travels to the rear of the car by way of Hooker Super Comp ceramic-coated headers and a Fabricated 3-inch exhaust. The motor is cooled with a BeCool aluminum radiator equipped with dual fans. Thomas also added March serpentine pulleys to help the motor run the Classic Auto Air system.
When all the pieces came together, the 502 made 550 hp at 5800 rpm to the rear wheels, and 580 lb-ft of torque at 5600 rpm. All that power makes it to the rear through a Tremec TKO600 five-speed box, equipped with a Sachs 11-inch clutch. The one-piece driveshaft is mated to a Currie 9-inch rearend, with 3.70 gears and a TruTrac LSD unit.
The suspension is mostly stock, with some modern additions. Up front, Thomas added McGaughys tubular A-arms, KYB shocks, and Eaton springs. Thomas also included a GM 11-inch disc brake setup. In the rear, the same KYB/Eaton combination is used, housed in a CurrieTrac four-link configuration. The 'Cane rolls on Billet Specialties Vintec Dish wheels-17x8 in the nose and 17x9.5 aft. The front of the car grabs the road with 225/45/ZR17 BFGoodrich G-Force TA/KD rubber, and massive 275/40/R17 Mickey Thompson ET Streets ensure proper burnouts, both at the dragstrip and on the boulevard.
When we received information on the interior from Larry, one section stood out from the others. Under the listing for radio, Thomas wrote a big "NO," and added that he has no need for one: "I listen to the engine. It's a true radio-delete car." That's music to our ears here at the magazine, as we thought we were some of the only humans left who love the low rumble of a V-8 going through the four-cycle process, the purr of the exhaust ... back to the details.
Cars Inc. was the source for the OEM-replacement vinyl and cloth '62 seats. Thomas also went with the same company for most of the interior, including the Fawn-colored door and side panels, and carpeting.