What do you do when the styling and performance of America's Only True Sports Car aren't enough? You do what Bob Nordskog did: Have a new one customized into a dual-purpose show-and-race machine that's truly "out of this world."
Nordskog was an entrepreneur who, after stints with Lockheed and Northrop, launched Nordskog Industries to build passenger-jet galleys, airline ground-support equipment, and battery-powered industrial vehicles. He also started the Nordskog Marine Center, a leading power-boat dealer, and the Nordskog Competition Center, where he built offshore-racing boats that he won with for years.
The "N" monogram logo appears on the fuel-filler door (shown) and steering-wheel hub.
But before he began racing—and winning—on the water, Nordskog satisfied his need for speed on land. In 1953, he ran 125 mph on California's Muroc Lake, setting a class record that stands today.
Ten years later, he developed a car that would be a winner on the dragstrips and in the indoor rod-and-custom shows. He started with a Corvette order sheet, checking off the boxes for Base Sport Coupe; RPOs M20 (4-Speed Manual Transmission), J65 (Sintered Metallic Brakes), and C48 (Heater and Defroster Deletion); red vinyl interior; and paint delete (primer only).
That rare and bare split-window then logged just under 10 miles before traveling from St. Louis Assembly to Barris Kustom City in North Hollywood, California. There, under the direction of Nordskog and George "King of the Kustomizers" Barris, it became a race winner and show-stopper.
For power, the Nordskog Competition Center built a small-block V-8 with 13:1-compression pistons, a stroker crankshaft, an Iskenderian camshaft, a set of "double hump" heads, a Joe Hunt Vertex Magneto ignition system, and a polished Edelbrock "log" intake wearing six chromed Stromberg carburetors. Backing it was one of the first Muncie four-speeds, along with a 4.56-geared, solid-axle Buick rear to handle the torque of the much- modified Mouse motor. Nordskog Egizi Muffler Shop made a custom multi-piece header/side-exhaust system that could be unbolted at trackside for race use, then reassembled for the drive home.
"Ferrara still had vivid memories of the car, along with lots of magazine articles, sketches, and other items of documentation that facilitated the resto process"
Barris' shop "Kustomized" the C2's body and dressed it in a distinctive copper-and- silver metalflake finish, and Nordskog's brother-in-law, Don Ferrara, created a spectacular custom interior.
The result: the Asteroid, a car so out-of-this-world that it was a big winner at shows like the Long Beach Autorama and the Mickey Thompson Auto Boat Speed Show in 1963 and 1964. It also scored lots of trophies at the track, becoming a consistent winner with a best e.t. of 12.23 seconds on the San Fernando 'strip.
Special gold-and-silver metalflake paint coats the engine bay. Note the OEM single-circuit
The Asteroid was often displayed wearing two different wheel/tire combos simultaneously—ra
Before the special-blend paint went on, the stock '63 headlights came off and Barris Kusto
Hot Rod, Popular Hot Rodding, Rod & Custom, and other early-'60s magazines were lavish in their praise of the Asteroid, calling it "the ultimate Corvette" and "a rodder's dream car [that] aims to command both strip and street." It also commanded attention at record stores when Liberty Records had Jan and Dean pose with it for a picture sleeve that went around their single "Drag City."
Later, Nordskog swapped in a 427-inch big-block and a beefed-up automatic, and gave the car a paint scheme identical to the one used on his offshore race boats. Eventually, the Asteroid was grounded in his garage, where it would remain even after his death in 1992.
Several years passed before Nordskog's grandson took the Asteroid to a collector-car auction in Palm Springs, California. There, Corvette lover Jim Jimenez bought the car with the intention of restoring it to its Barris-Kustomized state, but he soon realized that he lacked the facilities to do the job.
In 2011 Jimenez reached out to Randy Koeppel of Desert Autosports in Phoenix, who'd been in touch with him about the Asteroid since that Palm Springs auction. Koeppel, in turn, called an old college friend, Carlisle Events' Lance Miller, and before long the pair had bought the car and moved it to Koeppel's shop. "It wasn't really bad, but it wasn't the way it was supposed to be, the way you see it today," says Miller of the Asteroid's condition when they found it.
Next up was researching the Asteroid's history, a task that became much easier once they contacted Don Ferrara. Ferrara still had vivid memories of the car, along with lots of magazine articles, sketches, and other items of documentation that facilitated the resto process.
Over the next couple years, the Asteroid was restored to its Barris-built configuration. "I like the fact that Barris' creations are always hit or miss," says Miller. "People either love it or hate it, and I respect that. When I first saw the car, I was like, ‘I don't know about that thing,' but the more that I saw it, the more I gravitated to it and liked it. And I certainly appreciate the history."
Recreating that history, including the special metalflake paint (five parts copper to one part silver, with six pounds of aluminum flakes blended in) took a lot of the project's time. "We lucked out because we found a couple areas on the body which still had the original paint on them," recalls Miller. "I know that painting was very difficult because [of] that larger-size metalflake…but they did it." Those flakes were much bigger than the ones used in Cadillac's extra-cost "Firemist" paints, or in any other metallic color offered by GM back then.
When the Asteroid was finished, it made its first show appearance in decades at 2013's Corvettes at Carlisle. Headlining the "Chip's Choice" special display, it wowed show-goers with its outlandish combination of drag-car performance potential and zany show-car style.
When we spoke with Miller last November, the Asteroid was awaiting its next stint in the spotlight—at this year's Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction. Miller had this pre-auction estimate of who the buyer might be: "Someone who remembers the car from seeing it during their childhood at the Long Beach Motorama, or saw it go down the dragstrip, and said to themselves, ‘I've just got to have that car!'"
And they'll have not just a Kustomized Corvette, but an otherworldly piece of Corvette history.
Kustom touches abound on the Asteroid's body, like the smoothed-out tail, one-piece backli
Barris-built taillights replaced the stock ones.
What every Vette owner with RPO N14 wishes he had: custom headers and side-mount exhausts,
|1963 "Asteroid" Corvette coupe
||Randy Koeppel (Phoenix, AZ) and Lance Miller (Carlisle, PA)
||Chevrolet SBC iron (casting No. 3782870)
||Modified Chevrolet "Double Hump" cast iron (casting # 3782461)
||Iskenderian 505C solid-lifter
||Probe forged aluminum
||Chevrolet forged steel
||Restored stock with AC/Delco mechanical pump
||Six Stromberg 97 1-barrels with mechanical linkage
||Polished Edelbrock "log style"
||Custom points-style by Joe Hunt/Vertex Magnetos
||Custom steel-tube headers/side-mount exhausts by Nordskog Egizi Muffler Shop; chrome plated by Metro Plating
||Rebuilt stock Muncie M-20 four-speed manual
||Narrowed '63 Buick with limited-slip differential and 4.56 rear gears
||Coil springs, unequal-length A-arms, sway bar, and tubular shock absorbers (front); four-link with coil springs and tubular shocks (rear)
||Restored stock manual drums with RPO J65 sintered-metallic linings
||15x6-in Dayton wire (street); 15x4/15x10-in American Racing Torq-Thrust (front/rear, race)
||BFGoodrich Silvertown bias-ply, 15x7.75/15x8.55-in (front/rear, street); Firestone Dragster bias-ply, 15x6.40/15x10.00-in (front/rear, race)