Gary owns approximately 80 hot rods, customs, muscle cars, and classics, every one of which is a driver, and any one of which would have been welcome at the Americruise. Boesch Hot Rod Concepts in Humphrey, Nebraska, built the Corvette in 2003, but not for Gary. It belonged to a friend of his, but Gary had always shown interest in it. Gary’s wife Sue finally bought the car and gave it to him as a Christmas present in 2004. When the Corvette first showed up at Boesch, it was a former fuel-injected car with no engine and a mangled front clip. Rather than restore the car to its original condition, the decision was made to build it as a one-of-a-kind custom. The factory frame was replaced with a custom full-tube skeleton hanging more up-to-date Corvette components and Air Ride Technologies ShockWaves air shocks.
The empty engine compartment was filled with an LS1 and six-speed modified with some aftermarket and custom-built parts. The extensive upgrades to the drivetrain and suspension turned the Corvette into a ride that, as Gary puts it, “drives like a banshee. It goes brutally fast. It stops on a dime. It corners. It does it all well!”
It also has looks that can keep up with all that performance. The body was customized left to right, front to back, and turned into a true windowless, topless roadster. If the profile of Gary’s Corvette looks a little more rakish than other ’60s you’ve seen, it’s not the angle of the photo. When the wrecked front clip was replaced, the new front end was installed 1 1/2 inches lower, bringing the nose closer to the pavement, changing the profile line. It was a huge job for a subtle change, but it completely transforms the personality of the custom Corvette from sporty to something a little more aggressive. The jet black paint job just adds to the effect.
The effect is enhanced even more when Gary gets behind the wheel. In addition to just liking high-performance cars, Gary has a little bit of experience with road racing and drag racing, and is a two-time winner of the Great American Race.
There’s more to this custom Corvette than meets the eye. The handling that helped this thing move through the cones is the result of a completely new chassis built around a full-tube frame, with ’96 Corvette IFS and IRS parts. In addition, the ride is controlled by ShockWaves air shocks from Air Ride Technologies.
The LS1 Chevy engine came out of a ’00 Camaro, with a Lingenfelter aluminum intake added to the stock fuel injection setup. The custom air cleaner was built from 3-inch U-bend tubing and draws fresh air through K&N filters from vents in the radiator support. The very limited-edition (three sets) valve covers came from Hunters Automotive. Boesch fabricated the metal shroud for the 16-inch Vintage Air electric fan, and built a custom exhaust system connecting Street & Performance headers to Edelbrock mufflers. Since “everything should have a clutch,” according to Gary, his Vette runs the six-speed that came with the LS1. Rear gears are 4.10s with limited-slip.
Wheels & Tires
Dale Boesch designed the unique billet five-spokes, measuring 18×8 and 19×9, which were built by Victor and Jose at Intro Wheels. The 225/40R18 and 275/40R19 low-profile rubber is from Michelin’s Pilot Sport line.
Body & Paint
During the course of the many body modifications, the Corvette was transformed into a true custom as well as a true roadster. The door tops were reworked to mold into the dash, and the frame was removed from the stock windshield, which was lowered 3 inches into the corners of the cowl. The body was stripped of all trim, and the door handles were replaced with painted ’98 model pieces. The stock grille was retained with one extra tooth added. Smaller bumpers replace the stock items, and the openings below the headlights were eliminated. Quad blue-dot headlights from RB’s Obsolete were frenched and the stock taillight lenses were fitted flush to the body and tinted to disappear. The paint is DuPont single-stage Diamond Black. Contrasting bronze pearl with silver and lime green ‘striping was used to finish the engine and suspension.
When it was time to build the interior, the Corvette went to the Recovery Room in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, where Tracy Weever designed and created the custom seats, door panels, and dash inserts, covering them all in beautiful saddle-toned Ultraleather. The center console and dash were hand-fabricated from foam and fiberglass, following closely, but not exactly, the style of the original. Boesch built custom bezels for the rebuilt Classic Instruments gauges. The center dash emblem is from a C5 decklid. A Kugel clutch and brake pedal assembly was installed, and the leather panel at the top of the dash is removable for access to the brake booster and master cylinder.