|The John Staluppi Collection
Saturday, December 1, 2012
|2001 Chevrolet Corvette Classic Reflection Roadster|
350 bhp, 350.0 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed automatic transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, independent rear suspension with transverse leaf spring, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 104.5 in.
All Corvettes are special, but everyone has their favorites. The split window 1963 coupe has many admirers; others prefer the ’57 fuelie, while some purists long for the original white-on-red 1953 model. Of the first generation Corvettes, however, there’s a strong constituency for the 1962 model, with its classic nose, uplifted 1961 tail, and solid color paint. Those of the Baby Boomer generation had this car imprinted in their minds from the early sixties CBS television series Route 66, in which two friends, Tod Stiles and Buzz Murdock (Martin Milner and George Maharis), drive the mother road, meeting people, having adventures, finding work, and absorbing America. Their chariot was a Corvette, several actually, but the most remembered is the final 1962 car.
In the last 15 years, there has been a marked embrace of retro-styling themes by the major manufacturers. Capturing the heritage cues of earlier models, but using modern technology and metallurgy, came such vehicles as the Plymouth Prowler and the 2002–2005 two-seat Ford Thunderbird.
Yet another constituency yearns for a different combination of legacy design and up-to-date construction. Instead of retro cues, they’d like a near replica of an iconic historic car on a fully modern chassis. Fortunately, there’s at least one company that will fit the bill.
Classic Reflection Coachworks, of Lakewood, Washington, has been working on such vehicles for nearly 20 years. They began in 1994, engineering and constructing a stock 1962 Corvette body onto a 1993 chassis. This involved changing the wheelbase to make the body a proper fit and designing a front clip that would tilt forward. On completion, this prototype won many awards at shows in the northwestern U.S.
A parallel effort based on a C5 chassis began shortly afterwards. Using Boeing three-dimensional computer-aided design, a new body assembly was designed, faithful to the 1962 shell. This design was transferred to a five-axis milling machine. This led to the creation of a series of molds for high-temperature vacuum molding of body panels.
The design uses factory stock hardware, hinges, wiring, and interior appointments, with a specially manufactured exterior trim. Cars are hand-built on late model chassis, fitted together, panel by panel, and a new soft top is installed.
The process begins with the customer’s donor car, a 1998–2004 Corvette roadster, which is disassembled and measured to ensure alignment. Individual panels as attached to backing structures, then the panels are attached to the chassis, tail section first. Paint is applied and buffed, and finally, the interior is installed. The result is a thoroughly modern heritage Corvette.
This car is Classic Heritage Coachworks model CRC-62R, build number 78. It was completed in March 2010. It is based on a 2001 chassis powered by the 350 brake horsepower, 350 CID LS1 engine with four-speed automatic transmission. Black with silver side coves, it has a black leather interior in the C5 configuration, with instruments, radio, and climate controls in their customary positions. It has the customary Corvette features: power windows, interval wipers, cruise control, power steering, power disc brakes, and air conditioning. It is built with the donor vehicle’s emissions equipment, which conforms to U.S. and California standards for 2001.
Since the body is engineered to the 1962 profile, it has correct proportions, with the exception that the windshield has a different shape and a sharper rake. The tires are 285/35ZR19 radials on Legends Reborn wheels.
This is a very enticing package. Those of a certain age will undoubtedly think of themselves as Tod and Buzz, cruising Route 66 in search of adventure.