Customized Corvettes come in all flavors-some sweet, some salty, and others with a whole new taste sensation. We realize that not everyone agrees with changing the recipe of an old favorite, as on the rare '63 split-window shown here with all the extras. But builder Bill Verboon has the street cred to know whether to restore or do a restomod. After all, he and wife Karen have owned and restored about 30 Corvettes over the years. (See our June '09 and July '00 issues for features on some of Verboon's other Vettes.)
Moreover, Verboon has served as an NCRS judge, and he well knows what it takes to do a 100-point project, having won several Top Flight and Duntov Awards. So he can visualize the potential for a Corvette when he sees one, like this '63 coupe he spotted about five years ago at a neighboring farm in central California. The owner had attempted a body-off restoration but was getting nowhere fast, so every time Verboon crossed his path, he'd ask in a friendly way, "When can I have my car?"
The farmer eventually relented for a reasonable price, since a bunch of mice had been building nests inside the car, and the cockpit was a real mess. (Incidentally, the correct term for a bunch of these rodents is "a mischief of mice," a truly apt expression, and in keeping with similar infestations we've seen on other project cars). The pile of wheat kernels stored for the winter in the passenger-side door was so thick, the window wouldn't open. But the body was otherwise in good shape, and the frame free of rust.
After transporting this basket case in two separate truckloads to his personal shop, what made Verboon take the restomod route, instead of a straight restoration? Two main reasons: the sorry condition of the car and its lack of any particular provenance. There were no historical documents with it, and nothing odd or unusual about it either, except for big-block halfshafts in the rearend, suggesting that it had been fitted with a larger engine at some point. Otherwise, the fender tags indicated that it originally had a 300hp engine (no longer with the car) with a four-speed. The color scheme was originally red on red (but painted twice-first orange, then maroon), and the equipment list showed no power brakes or steering-just power windows. Most of the mechanical and interior items were either missing or dilapidated.
"Restoring the car to original would have cost a fortune," Verboon points out. "I basically bought just a frame and body. And I really wanted to build a hot rod."
Given those circumstances and personal desires, it only made sense for Bill and Karen to express their creative impulses in a tasteful and innovative way. He began by taking a thorough inventory of all the parts, and then selling off some of them, such as the steering column and seats, at swap meets to help offset the cost of the buildup. After pressure-washing out all the mouse droppings, he shipped the body off to American Stripping, using plastic media shot at 37 psi to remove all the layers of old paint.
Enrobed in Millennium Yellow...
Enrobed in Millennium Yellow and topped with Neon Blasberry, Steve Verboon's '63 looks almost good enough to eat. The six-taillamp look was originally popularized in the mid '60s.
Meanwhile, Verboon sought out Newman Car Creations to give the '63 frame a fresher, '96 C4 suspension. It took several painstaking months to modify the frame, add mirror-silver aluminum powdercoating, and then hang a new cast-aluminum differential torque arm, along with struts, Baer disc brakes, and carbon-fiber halfshafts. Energy Suspension bushings took some of the slop out of the old setup as well.
The new chassis also required adding 21/2 inches of width to the rear of the body, to make room for 18-inch rubber. Newman provided some fender flares, which Verboon enlarged even further by splitting them lengthwise, and then tapering them back into the body for a smoother flow. While he was at it, he installed six sequential taillights for a finishing touch.
The intense, non-traditional hues on the body, applied by Verboon's son, Doug, are Millennium Yellow and Neon Blasberry.
"A lot of folks think the paint scheme is from the Blue Angels or school colors, but I just liked that combination," Bill notes.