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Old 10-15-2007, 08:14 PM
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Default Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

The History of the ‘62

Well, first off, I don’t know what to call this car: survivor, day-2/day-1, driver, racer, beater??

I’ll apologize for the length of this right now, because in order to convey what this car means to me, I have to start at the beginning. I guess I was still 16, (1967) waiting to get my driver’s license. My best high school buddy and I got in the habit of buying most of the good car magazines as soon as they came out and we’d sit on the floor in his bedroom on the second story of his house on the outskirts of Dayton, NJ reading them and commenting on all the latest horsepower. Every now and then, we’d hear a musclecar (term not yet invented) accelerating out of the 25mph zone in front of his house, and we’d try to guess what it was by it’s sound (they all had their distinct sounds, you know). Then we’d pop our heads up and look out the window to see if we were right, and we got really good at it.

One day, doing our normal thing, we hear this car approaching. It definitely has a big block sound, but it’s different than anything we’ve ever heard before. Man, it sounded cool, but what the heck was it? We both were stumped!! Now this all happened within a few seconds, but I still remember every one of them. So we jump up to the window to see a black ’62 SS convertible with black interior going by. It had chrome mags on it that we couldn’t identify. I remember saying, “That’s the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen!!!!. That’s the kind of car I want!!!”. Then the reality of it hit me and I realized it was already about 6 years old and I’d have a snow balls chance in hell of finding one, let alone a good one. But I was in love. (and I never saw that car again)

I already owned a ’56 Ford that I bought from our next door neighbor for $15. when I was 15. so I knew that would be my first car. My birthday came, I got my license and was driving the Ford to high school one morning in late June ’68 when I made a mistake passing a tractor trailer and the Ford was totaled but I was ok. (forget that story!)

About 2 weeks later, my father and I go to Reedman’s Chevrolet in Langhorne, PA to see if we can find something inexpensive for me on their upper lot in back where all the cars were priced under $1000. Well, my eyeballs almost popped out of my head when I saw the black SS convertible with white top sitting there! I rushed over to check out the interior. It was beautiful; it had buckets, a console box between the seats, and a 4-speed with a chrome plate on the floor!!!!………but it was RED!!! Holy Cow, no real car guy drives a car with a RED interior!!!! Yeah, but it is actually kinda cool……maybe I’ll get used to it…. The body was straight and solid; all the chrome and moldings were in great shape and the paint was shinny. It still had 8.00x14 1” white walls on the stock black wheels with a set of small caps. Kind of plain looking, but I knew I could fix that! The top was in very good condition, though a little shrunk on the sides, and the rear window was a little yellowed. It showed 12,500mi.

Under the hood was a bit of a disappointment. It was a 283 with a 2bbl (which turned out to be a ’61 engine) and had Reedman’s used car special engine compartment resale treatment, meaning everything on the engine was sprayed orange and everything else was sprayed black, right over the grease and all. Well, it seemed to run ok, but the shifter was really loose and the clutch slipped a little. (I did test drive it on that terrible gravel road they had). I pulled the dipstick and the oil was black. I wiped it off with my fingers and it was gritty too. Then I noticed that the stick had “409 SS” stamped in it. Well, that’s strange… Had a big radiator in it too. And I noticed there were 2 extra holes under the crossed flags on the front fenders. OK, I’ll figure that out later. I had never seen a real 409 car up close before, so I had no idea what to look for. Oh well, who cares about the engine; that can always be replaced; but I’ll NEVER find another car like this again!! It was the car that I fell in love with in that fleeting moment nearly a year ago! Fate must have put that tree in front of that Ford…

Now all I have to do is convince Pop that it’s THE car! How much were they asking? $750. “Hmmmm, that’s a lot of money for a car with an engine on its last legs, and maybe a 4-spd isn’t the best choice for you”. Well, Pop’s logic won out and we headed home without the car!! I was devastated. I didn’t want any other car. I pleaded with him all the way home to no avail. Well, I didn’t give up and after another 20 minutes he finally agreed to call them and said if it was still there, we’d go back. It was there alright, so I called my buddy in Dayton, we picked him up and headed back. Someone else was test driving it when we got there, (the place was really crowded that evening) so we had to wait until he made up his mind. He passed, and Pop wrote a check for $700. and we bought it! My buddy Jim and I drove it home. (I found the cancelled check in Pop’s things after he died in ‘93).

I already had a new pair of Keystone Kusto-mags and a new pair of chrome reverses, along with new Firestone F70 and G70 redlines sitting at home that were bought for the Ford, so the wheels got exchanged for ones with a Chevy pattern, and they were the first additions to the ’62. I cut the ends of the tailpipes off and added 4ft long chrome pipes with a baloney cut at the ends and mounted them straight out the back under the bumper. Next, I bought the red flake Grant steering wheel for it and drove it that way for the rest of my senior year in high school. The car had a ’64-’65 style Muncie shifter in it that was nothing but problems. If I wasn’t careful, I’d shift from 2nd to 3rd and the trans never got out of second, but it DID get into 3rd. That slows you down real quick! That happened so often that I carried a little ball peen hammer under the seat so I could crawl under and knock it out of one gear. I bought a used Hurst with “T’ handle from the guy who ran the “Shifty Doctor” ’57 at E-Town and that went in then too. Then I added a set of Delco air shocks. I was dating my wife, Janet at the time, and the car was regularly seen at the nearby drive-ins, E-town, Seaside and was a regular sight on the “Ave” Friday nights in New Brunswick.

In ’69, on my way down to college in Daytona, the 283 melted it’s bearings to the crank and I coasted off in Va. I guess that Full line on the 409 dipstick was really a couple quarts short of what that 283 needed! Mom & Pop came down in 2 cars to rescue me and the car. While the ’62 was back at home, I was checking ads for engines and found a guy in Pa with a 396 for sale (he said it was a 427). It was a small port motor and had an L-88 cam in it with a 780 Holley. Pop borrowed a pick-up and brought it home for me so I could get it ready and installed when I came home for weekends. I bought a set of Hooker headers and a fly eye air cleaner for it from Joel Rosen at Motion, added a Hays 3 finger clutch and a scattershield. That’s when I mounted the sun tach on top of the dash and installed the S/W gauges in the factory holes in the dash. I even bought the S/W fuel gauge and changed the sender in the tank so all 3 gauges would match.

Back to Daytona with the ’62 I went. That engine didn’t pull very well at low rpm, but around 4500, when that cam kicked in, it felt like it grew 3 more carbs!. So, as you might imagine, on one street racing experiment it over-revved and disintegrated #5 piston. I guess there wasn’t much exhaust valve clearance to begin with! (you see, this is how you learn things…) I had the car towed to Spence Chevrolet in Daytona, where I made a deal with a mechanic there (Lowell Peters) to purchase a new 396 L-78 engine assembly. I wanted to buy a new L-88 but it was a lot more money. He did the installation at his home shop. It turned out real nice.

I arranged my class schedule so I was always done for the day by 2:30, when I headed back to the dorm, changed clothes, grabbed a bottle of Pagan Pink Ripple (wine cooler before it’s time) and headed for the beach to hang out. We had a car wash stall in the parking lot at the dorm, so the car got washed and thoroughly rinsed underneath EVERY day. Waxed every week.

On a return trip home at the end of a semester, I picked up some bad gas and got a particle clogged in one of the primary metering passages so we limped off at a Chevy dealer in Va. (again). I had the metering block off but just couldn’t find the problem, so Pop made a trip to Va. (again) to rescue the ’62. He rented a tow bar and we hauled it back with his ’69 Road Runner (blame me for that purchase). It still has the marks on the bumper from that. I blew out the particle with a bicycle pump at home and it ran fine again. If only I would have thought to ask those Va. guys to use their air?!?!? (you see, this is how you learn things…)

From that point on, I decided to race the car more (on the track this time), so I bought a pair of 15” M&Hs and Cragar Sport mags (the ones with the aluminum spokes). A Holley electric pump went in the trunk and I built a plastic box to mount 2 batteries in the trunk. I ran a ½” copper fuel line up front to the regulator and added a fuel pressure gauge at the base of the windshield. I bought some steel and made my own tow bar and brackets. I replaced the Delcos with Gabrial Hi-Jackers. All that stuff is still on the car, except the pressure gauge. I ordered a posi 3rd member from Midwest (I think) with 4.56 Zoom gears and installed a set of traction bars.

I dropped the car off at Performance Associates on Englishtown Road to have them balance and blueprint the engine. They also installed a driveshaft loop and a roll bar that was just welded to the floor and added an engine support strap. Those were the things the car needed according to the NHRA rule book at the time. The car weighed exactly 3960 (without me) and it managed a 13.15 set up like that. It was a failure at D/MP, but it sure was FUN. I’d still drive it on the street sometimes, and made more trips to the “Ave”, (sometimes with the slicks). The original T-10 began to give me problems, so I installed a Muncie, thinking it would be a much better trans. And in one of the dumbest moments in my life, I sold that trans (needed money), not knowing at the time that it had the VIN on it…..

After driving and racing it like that for a couple years, I decided to get more serious with the motor, so I borrowed $2000. from the bank and had it bored .030” to 402, installed a set of Venolia open chamber floating pistons, bought a set of ’69 ZL-1 OC heads from Booth-Arons, added a tunnelram and 2 660s. And like any good American hot rodder kid, I cut a hole in the original rust-free hood and added a snorkel scoop. (I still have that hood.) The engine wanted to keep making power to 7500 but the trans wouldn’t shift that high, and when I finally did get it into gear, the slicks wouldn’t handle it. Never did make one good run. It was just impossible. I’m lucky I didn’t kill myself trying. It was really dangerous.

It was decision time. Either I destroy the car while trying to make it into a real race car, or give up this idea, save the car and put it back on the street where I can enjoy it again. Well, that was the end of racing! I think I made the right decision…. In ’72 I was in the Navy and I married Janet. Got discharged and we lived in an apartment till ’79 when we bought our home. The car sat in my parent’s garage all that time. When I got the garage floor poured, the ’62 came back home to me. I sold the race motor to a guy in No. Jersey for $1100. complete.

The car sat for another couple years, then I finally decided I wanted to put it back on the street so I could enjoy it again, but with a 409 this time, as it should be. I hauled out a ’62 409 motor I had put away and rebuilt it. (still standard bore) I used an original ’63 425hp cam and the single point distributor with vacuum advance, which would have been in production when my car was built in the 4th week of April at Framingham, MA. I installed it with headers and hooked it up to the same exhaust system I had which used ’66 Chevelle mufflers. I got rid of the roll bar and put the original rear seat back in, took off the fuel pressure gauge, added the ’65 M/T wheels, found another good hood and had it painted, and the car was back on the street! I also changed to rear coils to a NOS set with the correct specs. People have asked me if I lowered it?! Nope, that’s how those cars sat when new.

At that time, these cars were starting to become popular again, and showed up in the magazines, but only as restored versions. The modifications I did to it when I first got it weren’t popular at all, (stupid hot rod stuff) so I considered replacing the wheel, the gauges and original fuel lines, etc (which I saved and still have). But then I thought, the heck with any current trend; this car doesn’t have to please anyone but me and it’s still the way I made it back then and I still like it, so it all stayed. So maybe it’s a “Day-1ay-2”, at least for me anyway. (Funny how things come back around, isn’t it?)

I still had the itch to drag race, and I looked for every opportunity I could find for some nostalgia drag racing. I’d put the same 4.56s back in and the same old slicks (or a set of Casler cheaters) and had lots of fun. I wore the threads out of the nuts on the carrier changing the rear twice a week for weeks on end. It managed a 13.34, short of the blueprinted L-78. Well, this is already becoming a BOOK, so what the heck; I want to relate a special moment that I will never forget.

In ’84, our club hosted the National Convention for the Late Great Chevy Assoc. in Mt’ Laurel, NJ. We rented Atco for a drag day and our guys handled the tower chores. Lot’s of people at the convention wanted to make a pass in their restored cars just to have fun (which is what it’s all about), and I was no exception. Even though I was the coordinator of the convention and spent most of my time running around with a clip board in my hand, I managed to get the ’62 down there, with the good gears and the old Casler cheaters on it. Who do I come up against at the line? A red ’62 Corvette, 340hp 4-spd. Now, if you could turn back the clock, this HAD to be the classic rivalry on the streets of America in ’62!!! I ran the old ’09 as hard as I could and somehow beat the Corvette by more than 3 car lengths! When I came back down the return road in front of the stands (and they were packed) everyone was on their feet cheering and clapping. What a great moment!! That sure made me feel better than winning trophies at E-Town.

Four or five years ago, I got a “sense” about the car that I’d been hammering on that motor long enough and I feared that I was risking it, so I put the cast iron manifolds on it with a stock exhaust system, got rid of the scattershield and put a ’62 T-10 back in it with a different old Hurst with the welded handle, and now just drive it. That doesn’t mean I don’t clear the fuel out of the front carb once in awhile though…!

Many years ago I deciphered the marks on the trunk panel from the original dealer emblem that Reedman had just popped off. It was Laffin Chevrolet in So. River, NJ. (later I was able to confirm that through the NICB, when it was easier). Anyway, I went down there and was lucky to find 2 older guys, about to retire, who worked there back in ‘62. I brought pictures and they actually remembered the car because the owner caused them so many problems. (and it was the only one like that they sold) They confirmed that it was a 2x4 car originally, 4-spd and 4.11 posi. They replaced TWO engines under warranty, and then said the owner had a THIRD replacement done at a private garage in town after the warranty expired. The one guy was a mechanic there and said he replaced a few shifters in the car because the owner kept bringing it in with the handle bent out of shape.... I have those conversations on a pocket tape recorder. They gave me a couple original Laffin metal emblems, but without the posts. (and yes, all the older records had been thrown away)

The car still has its original engine harness with ballast resistor and its inner fender wells with the screw holes for the tach sending unit (and the hole in the firewall for the harness). I did have to cut the inners for the headers to install the first 396 though. I found that the passenger door had been replaced due to a collision. That’s the worst paint on the car. The damage extended past the door into the quarter, so there are puller marks in that section and some bondo near the wheel well lip. That side of the quarter was repainted. That all happened sometime prior to ’68. The rest of the paint on the car is original. (of course, I mentioned the hood) It sure shows its age though, but it’s a deeper black than can be bought today. It’s never had any rust on it anywhere.

Original options on the car were the 409hp 409, 4-spd, 4.11 posi, SS equipment, padded dash, Am push-button radio with rear antenna and C&C equipment which included 2spd wipers with washers, an ISRV day/night mirror and a LH OSRV mirror. That was it! No tinted glass or any other dress-ups. In the ‘80s I did add a complete dealer P/B installation kit onto it when I added metallic brakes. The dealer kits were Bendix boosters rather than the assembly line Moraine units. Those brakes are amazing. When they’re hot, they’ll pull the car down so hard that you can hear creaks like the body is trying to leave the frame. Oh, I also added a set of seat belts which are almost 100% correct except for the 3 row webbing (which is ’63).

I’m probably the 3rd owner. The name on the open title we got from Reedman’s was Spanish and a very careful look at the tops of the front fenders shows evidence of lettering that was compounded off that said Lady “L”. Outside….., bumpers, grille, rockers, side moldings, trunk panels, windshield trim, glass frames, the rear license valance, and all but one taillight are the original pieces. In the interior, I replaced the carpets, kick panels and the red vinyl on the seating surfaces of the driver’s bucket. I had to replace the top well behind the rear seat and bought a new top boot. Other than that, what you see is still original. I replaced the original convertible top in ’83. I found a total of 3 build sheets in the car, but being a kid, I just thought they were needless papers and tore them out and threw them away. I did leave one intact though that’s glued to the back of one of the rear side upholstery panels under the ashtray. It’s so faded though that you can’t read it. It needs a CSI kind of inspection. I may know someone who could possibly arrange that, which would be cool.

So, since I put the car back on the road in ’83, I’ve driven it to St. Charles, IL, then up to Union Grove to race it, Charlotte twice, Chicago, Columbus OH, Toronto Canada, Columbus again for the NHRA Reunion, Winchester IN, Baltimore, a Hot Rod Power Tour as far as Georgia and numerous 200mi trips from home. Most people know that I’ve gotten myself pretty involved in the history of these cars since then, and I must say that this black ’62 is entirely responsible for all that interest and research. I had my share of people who saw the car in the ‘80s and later and said, “that would be a great car to restore”. But I decided that I will never restore this car to factory condition. If I did, it wouldn’t seem like the same car anymore. When I get in this car, it looks the same as it did when I was 17, and it makes me feel the same way too! You can’t put a value on that.

Verne
I would like to thank Bruce, who without him, we would never enjoy so many cars on this fine site. And thanks to those who seemed to have an interest in this old ’62 Chevy. My apologies to anyone who actually took the time to read this whole thing……………!

1968





1969











The '70's!









$2000 later






1971







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Old 10-15-2007, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

At home in 1979





Union Grove in '83



Engine shot in 1983



Nice engine compartment



1990!



E-town



1998 with Linda Vaughn!



In an MuscleCars magazine article








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Old 10-15-2007, 08:21 PM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

What it looks like now!






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Old 10-15-2007, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

Verne...thanks so much for sharing the cool story and your way cool 62!

I hope that the pics are close to in the order that you wanted them...sorry if I made any errors.
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Old 10-15-2007, 08:29 PM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

Great story and pictures. Love that Day II.
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Old 10-15-2007, 08:48 PM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

Great story and color combination on this car, by far my favorite. Every time I hear a story like this I just can't understand why I didn't hang on to one of my early machines. I know I'm not the only person thinking that either.
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:00 PM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

Great detailed story Verne especially with the vintage photos. Your better half looks like she's ready to row thru the gears.....And who the hell is the guy in the pinstripe pants ......At least you didn't use the pointed shoes picture...Great story from a great guy..........Joe
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:05 PM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

What a great story and originally a Ford man too...who'd've ever known?.
And are those a set of Rader wheels on it now like Bob had advertised here a few weeks ago, they really are just simply THE CLEST...and so are those pants too Verne!.
Thanks for sharing!.

~ Pete

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Old 10-16-2007, 01:38 AM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

""But then I thought, the heck with any current trend; this car doesn’t have to please anyone but me ........""

Surely this ride is a crowd pleaser everywhere it goes !!!

Verne, thanks for taking the time to share your "book" with us, I hung on every word.

I never figured you were just a one car man, will there be another book?


I thought I've asked this already, but what exactly are these wheels (Mickey Thompson?)and when were they made?



thanks again Verne
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Old 10-16-2007, 01:53 AM
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Default Re: Verne Frantz's Too Cool 62 409!!

M/T Rader Wheels
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