A Long Time Coming 1962 Corvette
Corvette – America’s sportscar – was the creation of iconic GM designer, Harley Earl. Veterans had returned from WWII in Europe with MGs, Jaguars and other two-seater sportscars. Nash Motors was introducing the Nash-Healey to America. Earl convinced GM execs to start “Project Opel” late in 1951. The result, the EX 122 prototype, (the first Corvette), is now housed in the Kerbeck Corvette Museum in Atlantic City. The “second” Corvette rolled off the line in Flint, MI, in ‘53. Only 300 units were produced, with 200 known to exist today. They came only in Polo White, with red interior and a black convertible top, a Blue Flame in-line six cylinder engine and two-speed Powerglide automatic tranny. There were no roll-up windows and it had a fiberglass body.
In ‘54, the new plant in St. Louis was anticipating production of 10,000 units, but poor sales resulted in only 3,640 units produced. GM could have easily scrapped the Corvette then, but for three turning points. In 1955, the new 265 V8 gave the Vette badly needed horsepower, Russian-born Zora Arkus-Duntov (“Father of the Corvette”) provided needed leadership, and Ford introduced a “luxury sportscar,” the Thunderbird – a challenge to GM and the Corvette.
The Corvette was vastly improved and its popularity grew greatly. The last of the C1s, the ‘62 version, sold 14,531 units at a base price of $4,038. It was the last year for the optional power convertible top, an actual trunk until ‘97 and for “fixed” headlights until 2005. It was the first year for the new 327cu.in engine with 250, 300, 340 and 360hp (fuel-injected) options.
Duane Krob, of Shueyville, always had a soft spot for ‘62 Chevies. He purchased a new Roman Red SS Impala, 327 four-speed, later traded it to a cousin for a snowmobile, who later sold it to Krob’s son, who sold it back to Dad when he married. As for the ‘62 Vette, about 30 years ago, another of Krob’s cousins spotted a sales notice on a bulletin board at Quaker Oats. The price was right and would later prove to be a bargain as the ‘62 gained in popularity, and is perhaps second only to the iconic ‘63 split-window, in that regard. Even though it came without an engine or transmission, had a partially-functioning rearend and two extra taillights, Duane, like the true car guy that he is, saw the beauty within.
Krob is a successful owner of Foundry Equipment Co. in Solon, and running this business since 1979 left little time for rebuilding the “basket case.” About 11 years ago, Duane decided to “make” time to get the project rolling. The body was removed and sent to Rollie Yoder, an Amish bodyman in Bremen, IN. The frame was powder coated by Rainbow in Cedar Rapids, and interior work was handled by Al Knoch Interiors, in Chicago. Sperry Engines, of Cedar Rapids, bored the 327 .030 over, installed a strong Comp Cams Thumpr series camshaft and roller rockers, along with an Edelbrock intake and two 500 cfm 4-bbl carbs, even though 1961 was the last year for dual quads in a first-generation Corvette. The engine was dynoed at 390 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, transfers power through a Tremec T-56 5-speed manual tranny to a 3.73 geared rearend and on to beautiful 15” American Racing Ansen Sprint wheels and Goodrich Radial T/As. It cruises at 70mph at only 2,000 rpms. Other amenities include Classic Air a/c and cruise control making this one sweet ride.
Although the finished product is very drivable and a real head-turner, Krob has only put 150 to 200 “road test” miles on it. His wife, Mydge, has yet to ride in it. Speaking of “finished products,” the Roman Red paint may be a bit of a clue to the real end of this story. Krob had to send the gas tank door from the Impala to his painter in Indiana to match the new Corvette paint. It didn’t! The Vette had to be redone. The Impala may soon be in the shop. They won’t exactly be bookends, but who wouldn’t want to have a pair of beautiful red 327 ‘62 Chevies?