Let's face facts: we live in a throw-away society. What was cutting-edge a year ago is on the scrap heap now. VCR not working? Throw it away and buy a new one. Computer outdated? You could upgrade, but it's usually cheaper to get rid of it and buy the latest and greatest, not to mention the fact that an upgrade-no matter how extensive and costly-probably won't measure up to the newest model. Is your automobile more than a couple of years old? Trade that sucker in! Why fix something that's worn out and outmoded? Why indeed..
A single look at Bill Verboon's '62 Corvette is all it should take to convince most enthusiasts that upgrading rather than throwing away can be a wonderful thing. Verboon, along with then-new wife Karen, bought his first Corvette in 1960. That white and red '59 carried the newlyweds on their honeymoon, and started a lifetime involvement with Corvetting. Among the many slick rides owned by the couple have been a '60 and a '62 (a Duntov Award winner), and a '91 ZR-1. The '62 became the couple's "N.C.R.S. let's go on the road tour driver." Their last trip in that car, however, made clear the limitations of 38-year-old technology. That summer drive from Durango, Colorado, to the couple's home in Hanford, California, subjected them to 120-degree heat, and Verboon decided that it would be "impossible" to ask Karen to drive cross-country in an un-air-conditioned car. So what would it be? Replacement? The couple already own a '98 convertible. Upgrade? That would be easy enough-there are plenty of aftermarket A/C systems available. Bill Verboon, however, had entirely different ideas.
He chose to upgrade. But even the casual observer will probably notice that this '62 has had a bit more done to it than the addition of air conditioning, and Verboon is quick with an answer when the obvious is pointed out: "It's always overkill with me. I like to start out with a bare frame and build a pristine car." And there's always a method to his madness: "I have a plan in mind when I build a car, and like to carry it out to the extreme."
Verboon's plan for a bit of overkill began to take shape in 1996, when he met Paul Newman of Car Creations. VETTE readers are already familiar with the work of Mr. Newman ("Prescription for Fun," Mar. '00), and when Verboon drove Newman's own '62, Verboon knew that this was the next step for him. After taking a year to find a donor car and assemble a budget for the project, work began in earnest. The bare frame went to Newman's California facility (3430 Pomar Dr., Dept. VM, Templeton, CA 93465; 805/226-9201), where it was extensively modified to accept the complete front and rearsuspension systems and brakes from a '90 Corvette. That '90 also donated its rack-and-pinion steering and 3.42:1-geared rearend. Car Creations then modified the stock pedals to work with a custom master cylinder before sending the works back to Verboon.
At this point, it was up to Verboon to make his plan a road-going reality. He estimates that he spent over 1,000 hours of his own time on the project, and it's hard to argue with the results. Two elements were central to "The Plan," according to Verboon: "Lots of guys can build show cars, but you can't drive them anywhere. With mine, you can jump in and drive-you just have to clean it up afterward. I build them to be fully functional." On the other hand, Verboon loves to build cars that are recognized by other enthusiasts with People's Choice awards; "that's what it's all about," he says. So..
This beauty is certainly fully functional. A '93 LT1 engine rests beneath the hood, sporting Street and Performance pulleys, chrome valve covers, and a chrome air cleaner. Setting the engine in was the "easy" part; Verboon spent a major chunk of those 1,000 hours modifying the frame to accept Hooker full-length headers and the body to fit around the '93 ZF six-speed. The 21/2-inch, ceramic-coated exhaust features a custom-built crossover pipe (by Capps of Fresno, California) and Borla Hemi stainless mufflers; Williams Classic Chassis in La Verne, California, modified the rear crossmember to tuck the pipes in. A custom-built driveshaft (by Denny's Driveshaft of New York) links the powerplant to the go-wheels.
The '62 rolls on 8.5x17-inch wheels from a '96 Corvette at all four corners, shod with 245/45ZR-17 Goodyear EMTs. One area that did not require custom modification was the wheelwells; there's enough space for the modern rubber to fit just fine, thank you. Bilstein shocks smooth out the bumps, and a custom-made ididit steering column (check off another chunk of those 1,000 hours) was fitted to keep things on-track.
Given his desire to stay cool while on the road, and the fact that he owns a C5, it should be no surprise that Verboon thought it'd be "nice" to be pampered with some creature comforts. To that end, the interior was updated with a Dakota Digital dash system, a Custom Autosound Stereo (with CD player), new upholstery, Simpson five-point belts, and a steering wheel from Corvette Central. And let's not forget the air conditioning! Vintage Air provided a little cool for this Vette, and the owner fabricated the vents. Verboon also installed the Ron Francis Wiring Works wiring harness, linking all those parts into a harmonious whole.
Another major time investment came from Verboon's son Doug. Father and son performed the requisite bodywork, and Doug then applied the luscious coats of '98 Corvette Torch Red. Bill then re-fitted the stock bumpers, and the result is nothing short of stunning. Indeed, the whole car sports form to go along with its function. Everything is powdercoated, stainless steel, or other material that's as impervious to elements as you can get. "It's gonna last a long time," according to Verboon, and it's a good thing, cause we're betting this '62 will see a lot of miles. After all its upgrades, he has a Vette that's "very comparable" to a C5-in fact, the older car's lighter weight helps balance the scales.
So there it is-a '62 Vette with all the modern conveniences, a melding of technologies that are close to half a century apart into a package that looks as good as it goes. What's an extremist like Bill Verboon to do next? That's a good question. He's recently started work on another '62, only this one will be powered by either an LT4 or an LS1, and will sport a coat of Millennium Yellow paint. There are also plans for another cross-country drive in a '62 Corvette-suitably upgraded, of course. Watch what you throw away!