There are folks in this world that have an uncanny knack for not only knowing what looks great, but also have the means within their wheelhouse to make it a reality. Ron Yingling is one such individual.
A self-proclaimed wrench-wielding enthusiast, he knew he wanted a solid-axle Corvette. A previous C4 owner, he’s no stranger to Corvettes, but always liked the classic lines of the first-gen cars. He started with a ’59 Corvette, the same year that he and his wife, Tina, met. But, he admits that he actually likes the cleaner lines of the ’62 better, so he began the search for just the right car, to build into the perfect car, for them.
The foundation he used to build into that perfect car was far from perfect though. Originally sold from a dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, Ron found the car in Tennessee in 2007. In his words, “it was terrible! The whole front clip was paper-thin from too much sanding, and it had fire damage.” The car originally had a lot of the hard-to-find trim, and the reinforcement metal was still intact. A long-forgotten project, the car also came with “a truckload of stuff,” although some items like the windshield frame were missing.
Beginning The Build
From these humble beginnings, Ron envisioned exactly what he wanted out of the lump of classic plastic he now owned. Instead of the Almond Beige color the car left the factory with, Ron wanted a Red/Red car instead. And while he was at it, that red interior was going to be leather. For that, he knew that Al Knoch could fix him right up. But there was a LOT of work to do before loop or cut-pile came into the picture.
Ron is a man that seemingly can do anything, but that doesn’t mean he’s compelled to do everything. Take for instance the chassis that resides under his red ride. He knew he wanted updated handling, but sourcing the proper components that will work together is a long, and possibly pricey endeavor. Instead, he chose to go with a trusted builder of C1 chassis that utilize modern components for an updated feel. He spoke with Tray Walden at Street Shop Inc. and the two decided on a chassis with C4 components front and rear with a Dana 44 diff to handle the power Ron planned to put down.
One of the benefits of Tray’s chassis is that you can order a complete driveline, engine, trans and even the brakes you wish to use, and then have everything ready for your body. Ron chose Chevrolet Performance’s carbureted LS3 (376/515) engine, which had some go-fast goodies like the Hot Cam as well as the intake already installed because he intended to use a carburetor instead of fuel injection on his engine. He admits, “I got a lot of grief for not using the fuel injection, but I wanted a carb!” Not using EFI meant that there was a lot of stuff already there for fuel injection, and he had to find a way to fill the holes since they were not necessary. In the end, an MSD ignition is tasked with reading the teeth on the crankshaft’s reluctor wheel.
Mounted to the stock GM-style bellhousing behind the carb’d crate engine is a Tremec TKO-600 5-speed transmission. Inside said bellhousing is a McLeod Street Twin flywheel and clutch assembly. The twin-disc assembly is guaranteed up to 1,000 horsepower and does not exhibit any chatter during operation. Keeping it old-school, Ron also used the original Z-bar for the clutch assembly instead of going fluid-drive on the throw-out bearing. Even with the additional grip, Ron reports that the pedal effort is still excellent. One alteration was to upgrade the shifter plate to highlight the fact that there’s now an additional, fifth gear in the pattern.
Entrusting Tray to build the chassis meant that Ron could focus on the bodywork that the donor car so severely needed. When they finally stripped the car, it was obvious that the front end needed replacing, a task done successfully with a new Sermersheim complete front end.
The body panels were all fitted by a body shop using original-style boding techniques and then Ron and a friend of his did the bulk of the final paint prep and slathering on that Torch Red hue. As the body was being re-formed, Ron also took the opportunity to tub out the rear wheelwells slightly to fit larger tires under his car. Tubbing a C1 Corvette can be a balancing act between wants and needs, as you limit your options and still be able to use the convertible top and make the Rock Valley gas tank still fit. Ron took his time and made sure that all components had the appropriate mounting holes and clearances when he was finished. He re-did them three times to get it all perfect. In the end, he could fit those custom-built Intro Wheels (8-inches of wheel in the front and 10-inches of wheel in the rear) shod with Nitto tires. Originally, he wanted a 17-inch wheel to give him more sidewall on those tires, but to fit over the 13-inch Baer brakes, he needed to go with an 18-inch wheel.
I got a lot of grief for not using the fuel injection, but I wanted a carb! – Ron Yingling
Once the paint was applied and dried, Ron continued assembling the car. Wiring the car to utilize both modern and classic components meant that a custom harness was sourced from American Autowire. Using the Classic Update Series meant that Ron could include comforts such as the Classic Auto Air A/C system, the RainGear electric wiper kit and the upgraded gauges that were all rebuilt. The oil gauge is still mechanical, but now has a higher reading to suit the engine’s pressure. The tach is electronic and has had its red-line raised to also suit the LS3’s revs. Instead of Amps, Ron now reads in Volts and the temp gauge now agrees with the crate engine’s electronic sensor.
Other creature comforts include power steering and power brakes. Ron, a fabricator at heart, whipped up the brackets for the A/C system and the steering from components he sourced. He also fabricated vintage radio knobs to the cable pulls for the A/C system to convert it from servos to cable operation, in keeping that stock appearance and feel. He had Classic Auto Air bend up all the tubing from templates that he made once all components were situated.
A lot of the finish work required a great amount of effort as well. To start, those stainless hood latches are custom-built by Ron. Also, that over-flow reservoir is a custom-built item that had Ron’s fingerprints all over it before he polished it to a mirror shine. Some lesser-noticed items are the custom-fabbed seat tracks that situate the occupants two-inches lower, allowing them to fit better into the cockpit. Other items that required Ron’s keen eye for better fitment were the bumper brackets. It took Ron a couple of months to fabricate a set that fit the body perfectly. He explains that to get them to fit tight to the body, you have to create your own set since there are so many subtle differences and body shimming will change the final bumper mounting.
Also, under the hood had its fair share of fitting. Mainly, to fit that Quick Fuel Technology carburetor atop the LS3’s intake without marring the fresh paint under said hood. Ron went to the fabricator’s friend – clay, to check the clearance between the two. Before all was said and done, he fitted the carb and air filter assembly safely under the hood without any threat of damaging the paint. He does admit that he did go through a LOT of clay though.
The Perfect Finish
All in all, it took about seven years to complete the car, and then Ron tweaked things over the next few years to get them just perfect. Once everything was fitted and all systems were checked, it was time for Ron and his wife to enjoy the fruits of his labors. In his words, “You do it to make it your own and have fun with it!” While Ron mainly built his ’62 to drive, he wasn’t opposed to accepting an award or two along the way.
Turns out there were more than just an award or two in their future. The car has been a Corvettes at Carlisle Celebrity Pick multiple times. Once was by Carlisle co-founder Bill Miller Jr. He confided to Ron that he is typically a “factory-original guy” and this was the first restomod Corvette he has ever picked for his Celebrity Choice award. Ron’s Corvette has also garnered accolades from the NCCC, pulling a home-run 100-points at Carlisle, as well as Best of Show on two different occasions. The only time Ron’s car didn’t click all the boxes was the one time a judge saw a Ziploc bag with extra fuses in it and docked him ½ point. He’s also received multiple awards from the York County Corvette Club and has a complete set of Tankard (Mugs) to show for it.
Now that Ron’s ride has proven itself on the show field, it’s time that he takes it out and hits the open road, where it can reach its full potential. How MUCH potential you might ask? Well, Ron had the car chassis dyno’d for a proven 400 rwhp and he reports that he hasn’t had the car much into the triple-digits, but it sure does get there fast! The weight distribution is exactly 50/50 with the battery up under the hood, and he has corner-balanced the car to prove it.
As his car now has the awards, he’s focusing on enjoying the car instead of prepping and final-detailing it for concours competition. He’s adamant that his efforts were not in vain as he points out that he drives the car, and it handles like a much younger Corvette, “just like a C4.” Which makes sense, as many C4 components found their way between the seat bottoms and the road surface.
While there are some not-so-pleasant memories, such as the multiple attempts at tubbing the trunk, building bumper mounts and getting the custom steering rack to blend properly with the pump’s pressure, Ron and his wife are looking forward to creating many happy memories on the open road with their Torch Red ride. Like many folks, the classic lines and styling of their C1 take them back to an earlier time, while the updated chassis and drive-train will take them just about anywhere. That’s exactly what they plan to do and that’s what makes this Corvette the perfect one for them.