Don LaRue was graduating from Mauri High School in Norfolk in 1962 and to this day vividly remembers his first ride in a new white Corvette. He never recovered from that initial Corvette experience. It's safe to say that he was and is hopelessly hooked.
After college he bought his first Corvette in 1973. Since then a dozen more Corvettes have come and eventually most have gone.
An exception is Corvette No. 6, a 1962 model that he purchased in November 1979 in Virginia Beach.
Mr. LaRue drove his new old car home to Reston with no trouble. Then in 1981 he took his bride on their honeymoon to the Corvette factory in St. Louis in that same 1962 Corvette.
In 1983, after the 327-cubic-inch Turbofire V-8 engine was overhauled so that it once again produced a healthy 250 horsepower, they drove the 1962 Corvette to a national Corvette meet in St. Louis. After 24 years and 145,000 miles, the Corvette was showing signs of wear, so Mr. LaRue began stripping off the sateen silver paint. With that task progressing nicely, 'Why not take the body off?' Mr. LaRue thought.
'What a mistake,' he soon realized.
In April 2001, a mere 18 years later, after a lot of help from family, friends and neighbors, the refurbished body finally was secured to the chassis. Two years later, July 2003, the finishing touches were applied the day before a national Corvette meet in Hershey, Pa. He drove his freshly restored 1962 Corvette on its 102-inch wheelbase to Hershey, where it garnered 98.6 points out of 100 to win a top-flight award.
'I collected parts for this car for 20 years,' Mr. LaRue says. From the first, he knew that this Corvette was a keeper.
Records indicate that 14,531 Corvettes were built in 1962. This particular one, No. 9,713 was built on April 12, 1962. For seven years Corvettes had bodyside coves. The first six of those years - 1956 through 1961 - the coves were outlined in chrome trim that invited a two-tone effect. In 1962, the last year before the Stingray, the chrome outline of the cove was dropped, thus eliminating the two colors.
Each one of the 2,925-pound Corvettes had a base price of $4,038.
Optional equipment on Mr. LaRue's Corvette, some of which he added later, includes:
• Auxiliary top......$236.75.
• Signal-seeking radio.137.75.
• Power windows.......59.20.
• Positraction axle.....43.05.
• White sidewall tires...31.55.
• Engine ventilation.....5.40.
The all-red cockpit was restored with the matching seat belts coming from Albuquerque, N.M. The previous owner told Mr. LaRue the original fiberglass auxiliary top had been stolen. In 1980 Mr. LaRue located a black top for sale in the Shenandoah Valley. It looked good on the silver car.
After it was shipped to a specialist in Pittsburgh, refurbished, given new plexiglass windows and a white headliner and then was painted a matching sateen silver, it looks great.
A set of 6.70x15-inch four-ply Goodrich Silvertown tires are wrapped around the wheels, which sparkle with the standard Corvette-issue fake knock-off hub wheelcovers.
Although the speedometer is ready to indicate speeds up to 160 mph, Mr. LaRue reports, 'The front end starts lifting at 120 mph.' Aerodynamics in 1962 weren't what they are in 2005.
The 7,000-rpm tachometer is in a separate housing atop the steering column. The red line is at 5,000 rpm. After that you're on your own.
No backup lights were offered on the 1962 Corvette, red lenses filling all four of the cavities below the character line that wraps around the rear of the car. A separate defining ridge starts in the cockpit and extends down the deck lid around the Corvette emblem.
The 1962 Corvette was the last one to afford the driver a view of an engine hood with two pronounced linear bulges reminiscent of the engine hood on a 1957 Chevrolet.
Because Mr. LaRue's Corvette did not leave the factory with an air conditioner, he cools himself during warm-weather motoring by opening the wide cowl ventilator.
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