Third time’s the charm, right? At least that’s the case with Bill Verboon. His customizing talents should be familiar to longtime readers of VETTE, since we’ve run features on his modified Corvettes not just once, but twice before. We covered his 1962 C4 in the July 2000 issue, and his 1963 split-window back in Dec. 2010 (where his first name was inadvertently changed to “Steve” in the title treatment).
Yet Verboon has many more Corvettes to his credit than this troika of trophy-quality cars—around 30 in all, with nearly half of them 1962 models. So before digging into the details of the copper-colored 1962 shown here, we decided to step back a bit and tap into his wealth of experience with both restoring and reworking this particular model year. Before we touch on his various tech tips, though, you might be wondering why he has an affinity for this specific vintage.
It all dates back to his service in the Air Force in Denver, Colorado, where he worked on the fire-control system found in B-52 bombers. This sophisticated setup used search-and-track radars, an analog computer capable of gun-tracking a fast-moving enemy fighter, and a closed-circuit TV.
Anyway, a buddy on the base happened to own a ’62, and it made a lasting impact on Verboon—“It was the coolest car I had ever seen,” he recalls. This wasn’t his first experience with straight-axle Corvettes, even though he prefers the reduced amount of chrome found on the ’62. Prior to that, Verboon and then-new wife Karen bought a white and red ’59 for their honeymoon trip. This would become the first of many owned by the couple.
Verboon found his first ’62 in Pleasanton, California, through his friends in the NCRS. “We really think that’s the best part of the Corvette hobby,” he says, referring to his many lifelong relationships with fellow Corvette owners. This 340hp carbureted car had all the pieces, but the body had been hit and needed extensive refurbishing. Verboon did such a meticulous job, it won a Duntov Award of Excellence.
But it was no trailer queen, as this trophy car became a touring car for drives throughout the West. Yet the final leg of its last trip changed forever the way Verboon would approach project Corvettes. On a summer drive from Colorado back to the couple’s home in central California, they encountered withering 110-degree temperatures. Being a considerate husband, he knew he’d never subject wife Karen (or himself, for that matter) to that sort of hardship again without an efficient air-conditioning system.
He felt a few other things needed changing as well: “Most everybody knows the early Corvettes didn’t stop, didn’t turn, and didn’t ride very well.” Not content with merely pure restorations (of which he’s done several), he knew he could refine the rough edges of classic Corvettes with a judicious application of advances in technology.
Starting with the climate control, Verboon has invariably depended upon Vintage Air’s Gen II Compac system, as it’s sufficient for cooling and is basically a plug-and-play unit. He notes that this universal system is also easier to conceal behind the firewall, for a cleaner-looking engine bay.
As for steering upgrades, he’s used a couple different approaches as the automotive aftermarket has evolved. He’s typically relied on the ididit column, even though the tilt function is a tad too tight with a stock dashboard. His solution? To develop a modified dash that recesses the tach housing imperceptibly.
Color-keyed leather ratchets up the style quotient of the stock buckets. Comfort is key, s
Verboon combines that column with a factory-style, leather-wrapped 15-inch wheel from Corvette Central (versus the much larger original rim for the “Armstrong” manual system). He also likes the front-drive power-steering setup from Street & Performance, since it fits nicely and the chromed accessories look sharp. Given the extra power demands from the steering and A/C, the factory 30-amp generator needs to be replaced with a 90-amp alternator.
As for the suspension and brakes, several different approaches are possible. Verboon always keeps an eye out for earlier C4 ZR-1 or Grand Sport parts, as they markedly improve the stopping and handling of the car. He’s also used aftermarket components from companies such as Newman Car Creations (frame modifications and re-valved Bilsteins) and Baer Brakes (13-inch slotted-and-drilled discs in the front).
On the copper ’62 shown here, however, he valued its “penny saved” approach with an eye toward the potential resale of the car (keeping in mind that the market has changed in recent years). Fatman supplied the power rack-and-pinion system, along with disc brakes and Mustang II–style suspension upgrades. But regardless of which system you choose, Verboon feels they all provide dramatic improvements in performance and ride quality.
How about color choice? A number of car customizers admit that this can be one of the most time-consuming and frustrating aspects, but Verboon has a simple solution: “I just go to the top floor of a hotel overlooking a car show, and look down. The color that sticks out is the one I choose.”
I just go to the top floor of a hotel overlooking a car show, and look down. The color that sticks out is the one I choose.
That was how he arrived at this tawny metallic shade, which we also immediately spotted at Hot August Nights in Reno. Ironically, Verboon first came across the car at this same annual citywide event several years ago, where it was on display next to him. Even though its condition was just a “basic driver” in his eyes, he repeatedly expressed an interest in buying it—but not for its rarity. Instead, since it wasn’t an all-original car, he could modify or scavenge it without upsetting purists (a point of view he understands well, being an NCRS judge and having done precise restos on about a third of his Corvettes).
His persistence finally paid off, as the owner was getting itchy to start another project car, and relented. Karen Verboon drove it back home to Hanford, California, where the car sat, patiently awaiting either parting out or upgrading. After reflecting on just how much more efficient the 200R4-equipped Vette was than his previous four-speed manual versions—about 22 mpg, versus 12 to 14 mpg—he finally settled on refurbishing the car, again keeping an eye on economics.
“After dismantling the car, we decided to make it a mild resto-rod with a conservative budget,” he notes. “I kept the 350 small-block, albeit with a freshening, and I also went through the TCI 200R4 tranny. The carburetor was sent to Chuck Smith for a rebuild, and…Summit [supplied the] chrome goodies for the engine compartment.” Verboon also put in a polished BeCool Radiator and sent out the frame (along with all the other small parts) to CAPS Powder Coating in Fresno for a new shine. CAPS also did a complete ceramic coating on the exhaust system.
The vintage American mags, meanwhile, went off to Morris Blanco for a high-luster polish. Blanco has done a considerable amount of work for Verboon over the years, and he also did the chrome for this car.
During that time, the body received a thorough prep job to get it absolutely straight before Thomas Vinyard sprayed on DuPont’s Hot Hues Blazin Copper paint. After getting the body back on the fresh chassis, Verboon reassembled the car with new and restored components, then rewired it with an American Auto Wire Hwy 22 system. He also plugged in Auto Meter classic gauges to monitor engine vitals, plus an Alpine stereo system with four speakers and a power antenna.
The overall result is a cool car (literally, when needed), one that combines classic lines with contemporary comforts and performance, all for the unadulterated joy of driving. It’s like that quip from the late, great George Carlin about the old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” After all, what good is a cake you can’t eat? Especially when it tastes this good.