Remember when you were 16? Can you recall what you drove back in those days--or do you want to? Steve Pelchat remembers very well what he drove back then: It's the '60 Corvette you see here.
While a student at Novi (Michigan) High School, Pelchat bought it from its second owner. "That's why I think it didn't get all ragged out," he says from his Charlotte, North Carolina, home. "He bought it from a guy who was a little bit older than him. He said he purchased it in 1964, and I bought it from him in 1970."
That 10-year-old C1 still wore its original Horizon Blue/Ermine White two-tone paint, and it had its original, numbers-matching 283 under the hood. It wasn't one of the optional 2x4-barrel or fuel-injected ones, but its 230 horsepower at the flywheel was plenty to move the 2,985-pound Vette around.
It also didn't have many factory options, other than a signal-seeking "Wonderbar" AM radio, a Borg-Warner T10 four-speed transmission, and a heater/defroster.
Unlike many young car guys' rides, Pelchat's '60 stayed with him over the years, accompanying him as he relocated from Michigan, eventually settling in North Carolina.
In 1992, he decided that the 32-year-old C1 deserved a restoration, so he began a body-off resto project. "I had it painted, and I had someone rebuild the engine," Pelchat recalls. "But my brother and I put the car back together, hung all the chrome and stainless, and put the interior in it. With Corvettes, you can pretty much buy the kits, and you put it all in."
Like many Corvette restorers, he had a deadline to get the project completed. Unlike many restorers, that deadline didn't involve a show like Corvettes at Carlisle or Bloomington Gold. "My wife and I dated in that car while we were in high school, we both graduated from Novi in '72, and 2002 was going to be our 30-year class reunion," says Pelchat. "So, I was pushing to get it done for that, and we did. We trailered it up to Michigan and drove it to our 30th reunion. It was a pretty big deal, because a few of my buddies knew I still had the car, and they flipped out when they saw us come driving up in it."
How's this restored first-gen Corvette to drive? Pelchat says it's fun. "It's a way-back machine. The first time we went for a ride in it after it was completed, my wife said, 'I feel like we're 16 again!' and I said, 'Yeah, so do I. Just don't look in the rearview mirror!'"
Like many a C1, Pelchat's '60 rides rougher than a modern-day car does. He's installed Coker's wide-whitewall radials in place of the original-size 6.70-15 bias plies, and he says those make a big difference, especially on long trips to shows or club runs.
"I'm in a couple of Corvette clubs here in Charlotte, and we drive the car," he says. "It doesn't sit in the garage. If there's an event, and it's within 100 miles, I'll jump in the car and go." He also takes it to some farther-away events, like Corvettes at Carlisle, which is where contributor Jerry Heasley saw and photographed it.
Pelchat's advice for anyone planning to buy or build a Corvette? Get one you can drive and enjoy. "The one thing I hate is, when people get so tied up with keeping it perfectly original that they're afraid to do anything with it," he says. "I have a buddy who just recently did that. He was so scared to death that he'd do something to it, that he didn't use the car, so he sold it. I don't see doing that.
"I'm enjoying this car, and I have a 27-year-old son, and his name's on the title. When I'm gone, it's his car, and we'll have to find another one for my daughter."
- Steve Pelchat; Charlotte, NC
- Stock cast-iron (casting No. 3756519)
- Stock cast-iron (casting No. 3774992)
- 283 ci
- Stock hydraulic 230hp grind
- Stock cast-iron
- Stock Carter 2818S four-barrel (PN 3756676)
- Stock AC/Delco non-electronic with points-style distributor (PN 1110891)
- Stock with cast-iron manifolds
- Stock RPO 685 Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual
- Stock drums, non-power-assisted
- Stock 15x5-in stamped steel with chromed steel "Spinner" covers
- Coker Classic wide-whitewall radials, 205/75R15 (front and rear)
- Approximately 85,000