Unfortunately, there's a sometimes unspoken disdain for those who float the bill but don't twist a wrench. We have to remember that not everyone can build a car, or not everyone wants to.
The owner of this 1962 Corvette, Utah based John Pestana, is in the software game. Originally, John started a small software business to pay for college and living expenses while he got his degree. The business was so successful he didn't have time to finish college and had to drop out. He and his wife sold all of their wedding presents to grow the business that they were eventually able take public and sell to Adobe. You've heard of Adobe right? This guy is an expert in his field, but probably has no business fabricating.
John runs with a crowd of high-level businessmen with more coin than time and more exotics than domestics. It wouldn't be unusual to see an Enzo Ferrari, Lamborghini, high-end Mercedes, and a Lexus supercar or two in the driveway for guy's night. He loves those cars, even owns a couple, but he wanted something totally different. The problem was where to start.
A casual conversation with his marketing director, Dan Larson, about how John wanted a vintage car got things rolling. Dan instantly suggested he talk to his childhood friend, Scott Dees, who he grew up with in California's San Francisco bay area. Scott runs a very successful shop called Scott's Speed and Custom in Antioch, California. Once these two got in contact, Scott and his team were on the job.
John would need Scott to find him just the right base to work off of. Not being a huge car guy, it was amazing John actually knew what he wanted. "I'm not typically a Corvette fan, but the classic lines of the first Corvettes are irresistible," John said.
Scott and company would be in charge of not only building the car, but acquiring one. John sent him a lead on one for sale close by, but they wanted a fortune for a car too far gone. Scott found a half-built, half-paid for gem in the middle of Amish country. The town of Chillicothe, Missouri, had far more horses than engine-driven machines and the roads were never built to support a truck and trailer that would eventually haul the Vette away. Scott arrived to inspect a car that was housed in a barn-turned-shop. The large barn doors open to expose a well-built at-home shop complete with a hydraulic lift and thousands of industry tools. Across the "road" a group of Amish workers were constructing a home equipped with only hack saws, hammers, and handmade nails. Both the Amish workers across the street and the Amish town first timer Scott were fascinated with each other.
The car's story was a common one. The owner/builder at the time got excited about the project, took the body off, and ordered every part he thought it would need. The mid-way point already took him over budget and he knew he couldn't finish the car. He purchased an aftermarket chassis complete with a mix of C5 and C6 Corvette suspension components as well as an LS3 crate motor and transmission. The chassis was intact, but every single part outside of it was in boxes. The current owner and Scott even had to marry the body to the frame with a forklift to get it loaded up. Many of the big items were there and the price was right, so Scott trailered it the long way home to California.
John, now the new owner of a 1962 Corvette, had a clear but vague vision for what he wanted to see. He wanted a car that looked as if it had been plucked from the 1960s on the outside, but with the technology, performance, comfort, and reliability of a brand new sports car. He would choose the iconic red and white color combination, and while the interior would be 100% custom, it retained the right look. John's marketing man Dan would serve as liaison between owner and builder, as he understood what John wanted and how to communicate that with Scott.
Scott is a professional builder, but this early Corvette was a first for him. "You don't really know what is missing on a car you've never disassembled until you're putting it back together. This car was missing a lot," Scott says. It's not like a Camaro, Chevelle, or C10, these parts aren't readily available. That issue pushed the build process to eight months, a little longer than Scott would have liked. None the less, Scott cranked out a Corvette that was not only true to the styling of the 1960s, but filled with the accoutrements of a modern car, just as John hoped.
Of course, Scott kept John updated with photos of progress along the way, but they were no preparation for the first impression the car would make on John when Scott rolled it out of the trailer in Utah. With a grin ear-to-ear, John drove his modern classic all around town for the first time. "I have some pretty fancy sports cars at home, but none of them get the amount of attention that the Corvette does, not even close," John shares. "My friends, the ones with the Ferraris, Lambos, Audis, and such, absolutely love the car too. We go on charity cruises and car shows together and their exotics are practically ignored."
Unlike most well-off automotive enthusiasts, John has never gotten rid of a sports car. He will likely keep this Corvette until he is too old to drive it. He is so happy with the final product that he has already commissioned Scott for another build, this time a VW double cab pickup. Needless to say, John isn't afraid of something a little different.
Engine & Drivetrain
Since John wanted a car that would run and drive like something new, going with a fuel injected crate engine from Chevrolet Performance was a perfect fit. The internals were left alone, as they would make plenty of power for John and his heavy right foot. The new school LS3 engine is ready to run and good for 525 horsepower with all of the necessary accessories to slip into the cramped first-generation Corvette engine bay. The factory flywheel, clutch disc, pressure plate, and throw out assembly came with the package. Street Shop supplied custom headers and custom stainless steel V-band clamp exhaust that were built to fit both the LS3 and their frame design.
Because the most fun sports cars are sticks, putting a Tremec TKO-600 5-speed manual transmission was a natural choice. The close ratio gearing with a healthy overdrive means he can keep up with his import driving friends. Outback was the Street Shop narrowed M50 C5 differential with upgraded 3.55:1 gearing.
Not one part of the Corvette's original chassis was retained. The Street Shop chassis is built from all-new materials. The mandrel bent rectangle tubing frame was designed to accept modern suspension components. The frontend got C6 spindles, C6 control arms, and steering components adopted from a Mustang, while double-adjustable QA1 coilovers took the weight. Sway bars are also from Street Shop front and rear. The M50 rear differential was suspended by factory control arms and QA1 single-adjustable coilovers shocks.
Wheels & Brakes
Wheels and brakes are a giveaway that this car isn't just a restoration. Performance tires for handling and larger-than-factory wheels were a must, just as large brakes were. The radial mount Wilwood SL6 six-piston calipers fit around drilled and slotted Bendix C5 rotors up front while Z06-style Wilwood SL4 four-piston calipers grabbed at another pair of Brendix rotors. There were only a couple items handpicked by the owner, and wheel choice was one of them. John chose a Complete Custom Wheel (CCW) 505 model in 18X10-inch front with 7 inches of backspacing and 19X13-inch rears with 9.25 inches of backspacing. These were then wrapped with Nitto Invo 275/30-18 and 345/30-19 rubber.
The body rolled loosely bolted to the chassis into Scott's shop with just the remnants of previous paint jobs. The condition was fair at best, with many poorly made fiberglass repairs that Scott would need to rework. Scott smoothed the body before painting it with a carefully chosen PPG Torch Red and Arctic White, picked out by the owner. The 1962's body wasn't built to fit the narrowed rearend and oversized tires, so Scott molded in fiberglass wheel tubs to accommodate the meats. The modifications were left to a minimum to keep with the unshaved, classic look. This was not meant to look like a pro-touring car, but more of a restomod. The re-dipped chrome bumpers support the look.
John has been spoiled by the extremely high quality materials found in the sports cars he is used to. He wanted, like the exterior, to have a resemblance of what could have been 60 years ago. Well, his taste for technology somewhat skewed the final product, but builder and owner kept it under control. Starting from scratch, Scott installed a Dakota Digital dash assembly, Vintage Air system complete with billet control hardware, and a Billet Specialties steering wheel that John handpicked to his liking. Since there wasn't a single wire in the mess of a project when they got it, Scott installed head-to-toe wiring from Ron Francis and power windows disguised by manual-looking cranks. A turn-to-crank key was replaced with a Digital Guard Dog start button, which senses the presence of the owner's key, along with auto-locking doors. Instead of a fancy head unit and gaudy speakers, Scott, with help from Rock Star Audio in Livermore, California, installed a completely hidden system controlled by a smart phone or MP3 player. JL audio 900-watt 5-channel amplifier pushes tunes through a JL 10-inch subwoofer and JL speaker components front and rear. The seats, dash, door, and kick panels, were stitched in baseball-glove leather by David's Custom Interiors, also in Antioch, California.