Back in July 1969, Jake Brecher of Bergenfield, New Jersey, was a 19-year-old mechanic working for his father's auto repair shop in the nearby South Bronx. Brecher had always loved wrenching on cars, and it just so happened that he had a beauty of his own to work on: a hot, silver '62 Corvette he had purchased two years earlier from a local seller. The first-generation Vette had been a dream for young Brecher, a dream he wasn't sure would ever become a reality. Every day was like a holiday, since he got to cruise in the car he had always worshiped as a kid.
Even though the Vette was a clean ride, Brecher brashly cruised the streets of North Jersey, looking for traffic-light brawls with any muscle machine willing to take a chance against him. Unsuspecting street racers on Jersey's Route 4 soon found out that not only was the Corvette a beauty to look at—with its metallic paint and contrasting red interior—but it also had the right hardware where it counted: a beefy, twin-four-barrel 327 under the hood, and a four-speed T-10 controlled by a Hurst stick between the buckets.
On this particular summer day, Brecher was home, going about his everyday business while his parents were away on vacation. When the mail arrived, he found an envelope addressed to him personally from Uncle Sam. It seems the government wanted Brecher to do an extended "vacation" overseas in Vietnam, free of charge. This wasn't a total surprise to him, as he was young and healthy, and the draft was well underway. Brecher, for his part, was ready to answer the call, but there was one thing he had to do first: store his prized '62 in a safe location, where it would await his return.
Brecher's dad had augmented the floor plan of the family's bi-level home over the years, boarding up a section of the double-sized garage to make an extra storage room/kitchenette for his growing family. Brecher decided that particular room would be a perfect place to store the car, so, armed with a Skilsaw, he got to work. He took out the divider wall his father had built, cutting away the sheet rock so he could drive his Corvette into its new resting place, right next to the family's downstairs kitchen.
Needless to say, when his parents came back from their trip to find the '62 parked next to the kitchenette's stove, they were a little perturbed. But when Brecher showed them his draft papers, their opinion of his handiwork quickly changed. The car would remain there until Brecher came back from the war, nearly two years later on New Year's Eve, 1970.
Brecher's Corvette was already a performance machine when he purchased it. Previous owners had done some interesting modifications to make it a respectable street performer, and those mods were still present when the car made its trip back to the Brecher's home in Bergenfield. Dual quads graced the top of the high-revving 327, while Hollywood glasspacks spit gasses out with an aggressive snarl. "Baloney sliced" exhaust tips graced the back end of the car, and the hardtop was covered skillfully with fresh black vinyl.
But once he was safely back from Vietnam, Brecher formulated even bigger plans for the Vette. He was back wrenching cars during the day, and hitting busy Route 4 in Paramus at night, looking for cocky street racers to run. In a search for more power, he started making changes.
First off, Brecher realized that the dual quads were just a little too temperamental for his liking. He decided to switch parts with a buddy, putting on his friend's Tarantula intake first, then replacing that with a Smokey Yunick ram intake he had scored. A big Holley 850 double-pumper and a magneto were also part of the deal. The car just screamed with this combination, and it was much easier to get the air/fuel mixture where he wanted it.
Brecher also started doing mods to the suspension. He had the rear spring re-arced by a local shop, which raised the rear and made room for his 15x10 Ansen Sprint wheels and large, sticky tires. He then installed a set of 4.56 gears to make the most of the newfound power.
Up front, Pappy Huff of Gasoline Alley in Paterson, New Jersey, made him 2.5-inch spacers to install under the front crossmember and raise the front end. Huff also made a set of custom traction bars out of 1.75 square stock, and these replaced the set of tubular arms that were on the car when Brecher purchased it. Matching 15x8.5 Ansens were placed under the front fenders.
Brecher's next step was to commission a custom, 425hp 327 from a local builder. The engine proved to be a big performer on the street, but it ended up blowing when Brecher shifted into Second outside the gates of Raceway Park in Old Bridge. A buddy in an Opel GT "rope towed" Brecher home the 40 miles back to Bergenfield, where he contemplated his next step. After much consideration, he decided to make it a show car.
As part of the transformation, Brecher decided to build his own show-quality engine for the car. Starting with some of the basic ingredients of the last 327, he took an 0.30-over block and stuffed it with 12.5:1 pistons. The Smokey Yunick ram intake, the Holley 850, and the magneto were also salvaged and added to the mix. Everything that could be chromed, was. The wiper motor, valve covers, generator, fan, linkages, hinges, carb bowls, and steering box all got a beautiful layer of the bright stuff.
Outside, the paint was entrusted to the newly opened Gilles Paint and Body in Bergenfield. Four coats of '74 Lincoln Mark IV Firemist Silver lacquer and four coats of clear were laid on the car in expert fashion. A grille and headlight rings from a '58 Vette were installed as accents, along with a new set of Kustom headers and 4-inch side pipes. A custom teardrop hood—which Brecher redesigned with smaller air inlets—sat on top of the dazzling motor. Brecher even installed a fuel-pressure gauge in one of the backward-facing inlets, so he could monitor this critical parameter while driving.
Inside, custom pleating was applied to the dash and seats. An array of original green-faced Sun gauges gave the cabin the high-tech look of a fighter-plane cockpit. On the floor and in the trunk, a wild set of modified bathroom rugs furnished the requisite "crazy '70s" look. The finished product—identified as "Quick Silver" with a pair of fender badges—was truly something to behold.
Brecher showed the car for two seasons, 1974-1975 and 1975-1976, racking up a host of awards for his hard work. Best Use of Chrome and Best Paint were among many of his achievements, and the car also won the ISCA International Grand Finale Champion in class in its second season.
After his second year on the circuit, Brecher settled down, got married, and helped his wife, Kathy, raise the children. The Corvette's high-compression motor was just too much for the new low-octane gas that was on the market, and retarding the timing to reduce pinging made the car run hot. So the '62 went on the backburner, settling into Brecher's garage for more than 20 years. During that time, Brecher got involved in buying and selling high-end turnkey muscle cars, something he really enjoyed. After making a good profit, he decided to put some of that money to good use and build a new motor for his Vette that was both streetable and a great performer.
Starting with a 350 block, he constructed a reliable 383 stroker with 9.6:1 compression. A set of World Product heads were first on the build list, followed by a roller cam and lifters. The Smokey Ram intake, Holley 850, and magneto were once again used on the top end, chiefly because Brecher had always loved this combination.
The Kustom headers and side pipes were removed, due to the fact that they constantly cracked and needed repair. In their place went a set of Hooker Headers and stainless pipes—cut with baloney slices—giving the car a look similar to the one it had when Brecher bought it home for the first time. Much of the pleating was removed from the interior, and the groovy rugs were ditched in favor of a stock set. Al Knoch interiors made the fresh coverings for the seats. Amazingly, the door panels are still the originals. The Ansen Sprint wheels were also left in place, but the gears were changed to a more streetable 3.55 set.
It was a few years after his last show tour that then-VETTE editor Martyn Schorr ran into Brecher at a gas station in North Jersey. He was immediately smitten with Brecher's C1 and arranged for a feature article on the car to run in the magazine. It did, as the cover story in the April '78 issue.
I ran into Brecher at the Dead Man's Curve party put on yearly by Richie Conklin of Radir Wheels. The '62 stood out like a beacon of silver light amongst the other muscle cars and hot rods in the soggy field. It was clear from all the personal touches evident that the car had long been in the careful stewardship of a single, meticulous owner.
It's good to know that Jake Brecher is once again driving the hell out of his '62 Corvette. And he definitely hasn't lost a step, pumping the four-speed like he used to do out on Route 4, where he was always looking for a street rumble. Today Quick Silver can still be seen on the roads of North Jersey—eating up pavement, laying down rubber, and disappearing over the distant horizon.