People often like to use the term “survivor” to describe a classic car that has managed to make it through decades of potential hazards at the hands of their former owners, as well as the ravages of nature with the original equipment still intact. Calling a car a survivor implies that it has seen hardships and dangers and somehow managed to live to tell about it, while others of its kind weren’t quite so lucky. There are indeed genuine “survivors” out there, but sometimes a really, really nice numbers-matching car didn’t merely survive, but instead it was just very well taken care of.
That’s exactly the case with Phil Perry’s Two-Top 1962 Corvette. This Roman Red C1 wasn’t tucked away safe from mischievous hands and the dangers of nature somewhere in a barn, only to be discovered 40 years later under 3 inches of chicken poo. No; it didn’t make it to 2012 with its original engine, transmission, and rear end still intact by hiding out. It made it here because its owners were wise enough to know exactly what they had, and were smart enough to take good care of it.
Not Just Surviving – Thriving
When I met up with Perry in the quaint little town of Caldwell, Texas, to shoot the pictures for this feature, I couldn’t help but refer to the Corvette as a “survivor” myself. But, during our discussion of the car, Perry told me, “It’s not so much that it is a ‘survivor’ – it’s more like it has ‘lived an easy life.’”
For me, it’s not about showing it off. For me it’s just about owning it and knowing it’s mine.
He may or may not ever be able to track down the owners from the car’s 50 years of existence, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of clues to the car’s history right there in the car itself. Perry was able to determine through the car’s serial number that it was built on April 7th, 1962, and was one of 55 Corvettes that were built that day. The interesting thing about that particular date is that it would have been a Saturday. Perry says, “When I first looked up the build date and saw that it was a Saturday, I thought that there must be some kind of mistake. But after I did some research, sure enough, the factory did operate on Saturdays back then.”
The Corvette is still powered by the very same 300 horsepower 327 small block that it left the factory with in 1962, and the same goes for the 4-speed transmission and 3.08 geared Positraction rear end. As a Two-Top car, the Corvette also has a black soft top in addition to the red hard top it was wearing the day of our photo shoot. In 2007 the car had a complete frame-on restoration performed and was thoroughly gone-through. The car was still in good enough shape that a full rotisserie resto wasn’t even necessary.
The One that Didn’t Get Away
For some reason that red Corvette always stuck with me…
Now, all things considered it’s not 100%, perfect and it’s not 100% correct; however it is a solid 95% of the way there. And at the same time, it’s not just a garage queen that spends its life in a plastic bubble. Perry’s Roman Red C1 is every bit of a high-end driver, and a great example of a numbers-matching early Corvette that still sees plenty of street use. So, here it is in the year 2012, exactly half of a century after it was built, as a rolling testament to the fact that some things in life can last forever with a little TLC.