A Resto Mod ‘62 Corvette From Oahu, Hawaii’s Gathering Place

November 11th, 2011

Text and Photos by Bob McClurg

The father and son team of Bill Bartenstein Senior and Junior of Corvette Center of Hawaii are renown around the 50th state for performing classic Corvette restorations, as well as brokering pristine examples of these plastic fantastics to an elite clientele based within the Pacific Rim. In recent years, however, the Bartensteins have been favoring the resto mod side of the coin, because after awhile, one restored Corvette, or classic Camaro for that matter, just looks like another, and you’ve got to keep prospective buyers interested. However, before any of you GM purists go running for the tar bucket, we should make it perfectly clear that the two Bills generally find themselves a car in need of saving, a car that in most cases would cost far more to restore than its actual net worth. Such was the case with this Atomic Orange-hued, LS3-powered, ‘62 vintage straight axle Corvette convertible appropriately named 1-BAD-62.

“At one time, the ‘Vette was a steady fixture around Oahu’s cruise night scene, but was considered old school by today’s standards. Eventually, somebody bought it, and completely disassembled it with the intention of restoring the car back to factory original, but they gave up on the idea. We bought the ‘62 ‘in a basket’ about two and half years ago,” Bill Jr. told us.

Billy Bartenstein, or Bill Jr., is recognized as one of the most talented car builders in the Hawaiian Islands, and he and his father are credited with having performed the majority of the work on 1-BAD-62. Of course, that included replacing the C-1’s straight axle chassis with a box tube frame design of his own to which he added a Jim Meyer Race Car Fabrications unequal length tubular upper and lower control arms with JMRCF coil-over front suspension complete with six-piston Wilwood front disc brakes and JMRCF power rack-and-pinion steering.

The classic looks of a C-1 Corvette and the emergence of C2, or Corvette Stingray, styling. In a nutshell, that epitomizes the 1961-62 Corvette. What Kailua, Hawaii’s Bill Bartenstein Sr. and Bill Bartenstein Jr. have done is improve on classic greatness with a few modern upgrades thrown in for good measure.

Out back, Billy B installed a Jim Meyer 4-link-suspended JMRCF coil-over and Wilwood four-piston-equipped 3.45:1 Currie Enterprises TruTrac posi-traction rearend. Wheels and tires on 1-BAD-62 consist of a set of 20 x 8-inch front and 20 x 10-inch Budnik wheels rolling on P245/30XZR20-inch Pirelli Scorpions on the front, and P295/25XZR20-inch Pirelli Scorpions on the rear. Of course, virtually every suspension and driveline component on the ‘62’s new chassis has been either chrome plated, polished or painted Atomic Orange.

When it came time to plant the 100-percent stock, 6.2L/376-cid 2010 GM Performance Parts LS3 crate engine between Bartenstein’s newly fabricated frame rails, Bill Jr. built his own engine and transmission mounts, as well as dressing things out a bit with the inclusion of a Vintage Air Front Runner billet pulley and A/C system. Also pressed into service are a Street & Performance LS3 billet air cleaner and a set of thermal-coated Street & Performance four-tube headers backing up a thermal-coated, Flowmaster-equipped, 3-inch exhaust system. Engine cooling is handled by a Be Cool four-core aluminum cooling module with 12-inch puller fan. Gear changes are implemented via a Keisler/Tremec 6060 five-speed transmission with hydraulic clutch.

The ’62 was built to be driven. Bill Bartenstein Sr. enjoys some seat time.

“After stripping off fifty years of old paint, we found all the body panels to be factory original, and there was very little evidence of any major repairs,” said Bill Sr. ”In fact, I’ve never found a body this original!” Upgrades include a set of Jim Meyer Race Cars 4-inch rear wheel tubs and an L88 Stinger-style fiberglass hood. Once the two Bills had completed all of their modifications, Bill Jr. sprayed the Corvette in PPG Atomic Orange with flamed hood graphics.

“Other than the interior and top, my son Bill and I did all the work ourselves,” says Sr. Famed auto upholsterer Al Knoch gets the credit for stitching up those Corvette insignia Glide Engineering charcoal gray soft leather reclining seats, matching trunk area and top. But there’s a whole lot more to the inside than that. Also along for the ride are Dakota Digital instruments, Autoloc remote door, hood and trunk controls housed inside a Bartenstein custom console, an Alpine FM/DVD player, Alpine amps and speakers, and matching leather-wrapped Budnik steering wheel. Completed in the spring of 2010, 1-BAD-62 represents an investment of $145,000 and two-plus years construction time. The Bartensteins are members of the Hawaii Corvette Association.

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