Bringing a corvette back to life from the depredations of an automobile graveyard is not for the faint of heart. It requires dedication, determination, talent, and time. It also helps if you own a Corvette reproduction-components company and can utilize your own parts bin in the process.
Paragon Reproductions, a specialist in '53-'82 Corvette repro hardware since 1970, says the concept behind "Bones," as this '62 Corvette is called, was to illustrate how the company's wares could be used to resurrect a Corvette from a boneyard and rebuild it into a world-class machine.
The three-year project began in April 2006, when Paragon plucked a '62 body shell from its corporate salvage yard. "It had been back there 20 or 30 years," Steve Childs, the company's president, tells VETTE. "By the time we got it, it had been stripped of everything but a floorpan and a firewall. The idea of building a performance show car from the boneyard cockpit, instead of from a complete car, shows how far you can go with very little Corvette to start with."
The first step was to rough out the visuals of the final product. "We contemplated what we were going to do with the body," Childs explains. "Our graphics department put together a rendering of how we wanted the Corvette to look, based upon our ideas of a classic-looking, but muscular, C1 with modern performance mechanicals and suspension. To accomplish that goal, we incorporated the big-block hood and side louvers from a '69 Corvette, while sourcing the remainder of the body panels-including fenders, doors, and trunk lid-from a '62 donor. It still looks like a '62, but a '62 hungry for the kill."
Enter Randy Church of Randy Church Restorations in St. Charles, Michigan, who was tapped by Paragon to prep and paint the Vette. Over the course of 150 hours, Church's team would transform the weathered boneyard shell into a laser-straight body, then define its new look with deliberate doses of Dupont ChromaBase GM Indigo Blue and ChromaClear, followed by expert wet-sanding and polishing.
With the shell on its way to body beautiful, Paragon's in-house team had the chance it needed to focus on the Corvette's mechanicals, chassis, and suspension. Choosing a Paul Newman frame as a starting point, the team treated it to C4 front and rear suspension and brake components, including upper and lower control arms, shocks, springs, sway bars, rotors, and calipers. (Later, the team would install a '62 gas tank, a Holley electric fuel pump, C4 steering, an ididit steering column, a dual-reservoir master brake cylinder, and a DeWitts aluminum radiator.)
The drivetrain was next. Not surprisingly, an LS7 was the first thing on the team members' minds when the question of what engine to use came up. "It was a unanimous decision amongst us to choose the GM Performance Parts LS7 engine for this Corvette," Steve recalled. "We're a Corvette restoration company, we wanted this car to stay all Corvette, and there was no better choice than the LS7."
In case there's anyone out there who's still not familiar with the LS7's credentials, GM's race-ready street motor displaces 427 cubes, thanks to its 4.125-inch-bore aluminum block and a 4.00-inch forged-steel crankshaft. Other noteworthy components include forged titanium connecting rods, hypereutectic aluminum pistons, and CNC-ported heads with 70cc chambers, 2.20-inch titanium intake valves, and 1.61-inch sodium-filled exhaust valves. Orchestrating the valvetrain is a hydraulic roller cam with 211-/230-degree duration and 0.591-/0.591-inch lift. The compression ratio is 11.0:1.
Realizing that the LS7 was adequately muscular in this application, the Paragon folks kept aftermarket performance mods to a minimum. Custom ceramic-coated headers from Almarc Tube Co. in Sterling, Michigan, and a dual-snorkel K&N cold-air intake combine to bump the engine's output to an estimated 560 hp.
The remainder of the drivetrain consists of an Exedy twin-disc clutch, a Rockland Standard Gear/Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission, a custom steel driveshaft, and a Posi-equipped Dana 44 rear stuffed with 3.07 gears.
The final touches involved uniting the body with its new chassis, mounting the LS7's remote oil reservoir on the passenger-side fender, routing all the lines and hoses, installing a Howell EFI system, and rigging up a C6 drive-by-wire accelerator assembly. With those steps completed, the LS7 finally came to life. "It created an adrenaline flow that made every short hair on your body stand straight up!" Childs says.
The last major chapter of the "rectification" covered the cabin, where an Al Knoch custom-leather dash, seat covers, and door panels stand in for the stock hides. Classic Instruments electronic gauges keep an eye on the engine's essentials, and a Valor CD/DVD sound system, Vintage Air A/C, and power windows add modern comforts to the otherwise classic-looking command center.
Finished in September 2009, this '62 Corvette is more than resuscitated; it's a bona fide blast to drive, and a rolling showcase for Paragon's expansive line of Corvette-restoration products. "Response to the project has been overwhelming," Childs says. "Wherever we display Bones, it always draws a crowd. The most-asked question has been 'Is this a GM prototype or styling car?' When I show them what we started with, the response is always 'No way!' We wanted to show that building something different-designed to match who you are as an individual-can be done with style and performance."
Make no bones about it, Paragon's LS7 Vette will continue to impress audiences with its classic design, phenomenal looks, and fantastic performance. "I hope it gives our customers some ideas for their next project," Childs says. "And when they see the quality that went into this car, they'll know it's the same quality we put into every reproduction part we sell to the Corvette hobbyist."
For more information on Paragon Repro-ductions, visit www.corvette-paragon.com.