At first glance, Jon Flickinger's 1962 Sunburst Orange Corvette appears to be just about the most beautiful first-generation 'Vette around. What lurks beneath that gorgeous fiberglass, though, is not just a late model Corvette engine, but the entire power train of a 2005 Corvette perfectly fitted to a custom tube frame.
Flickinger is already at work on his next Corvette conversion, fitting an
SRIII tube chassis and late model Corvette drivetrain under a basically stock 1961 Corvette, so he can have a non-show car that can be street driven any time the mood strikes him.
The interior of the Corvette is a marvel of design and execution, both accomplished by Flickinger, who taught himself to sew when he began building custom cars years ago. He had to narrow the seats by an inch each before covering them in soft, supple Italian leather that is a perfect complement to the car's exterior.
Original 18-inch late model Corvette wheels and disc brakes are used all around, with sticky Kumho 245/40R/18's in the rear and 225/40R/18's up front. Equipped with a heavily modified C6 chassis, the car handles `like a go-kart,' according to the owner.
The depth and beauty of the paint on the Flickinger Corvette has to be seen to be believed. Brad Umscheid of Paints Unlimited in Salina did most of the body work and the painting honors, laying down multiple coats so smoothly that no wet-sanding was required, just a light buffing after the final clearcoat.
A flat 3-spoke aftermarket steering wheel was modified and smoothed to match the rest of the interior, which features all-electric Classic Instruments gauges, including the sweep speedometer, set in the original bezels.
The interior features `all the creature comforts' including ice cold air conditioning and a Pioneer sound/navigation system. The nifty short-throw 6-speed shifter popped up exactly in the middle of the original transmission tunnel, without modification.
Using carbon fiber and other modern materials, Flickenger built these beautiful custom door panels and then covered them in two-tone leather; metal parts were sprayed with a soft-look finish to complement the exterior color scheme.
Flickinger says his wife, Janet, makes use of the passenger grab bar on occasion when he blips the throttle on the updated Corvette. He fabricated the carbon fiber bar himself and meticulously blended the curved Corvette logo into the leather-wrapped dash board.
The trunk was not overlooked; owner/builder Flickinger crafted the aluminum panels that enclose the cargo area before upholstering them in more rich, soft leather. The sound system's amp is mounted in the center; that's a covering for the fuel filler neck in the lower corner.
A peek down past the engine shows the level of detailing that went into this car; the paint on the tube chassis is as smooth and clear as on the body and the firewall bulkhead mounts better-than-factory hoses and fittings.
This will be Jon and Janet Flickinger's daily driver Corvette, a '61 model that will also be mounted on an SRIII tube chassis using 2007 Corvette drive train components. He plans to leave the exterior in basically original condition, to less the worry of paint chips and scratches.
The standard late model Corvette suspension is replaced by coil-over-springs at all four corners. The 2007 chassis has been shortened and narrowed to fit under the early Corvette body panels; note the amazing amount of round-tubing bracing used to stiffen the frame.
First generation Corvettes did not come with rear-mounted transaxles. Current versions of the sports cars do and this 6-speed transaxle will eventually be housed under the Flickingers' '61 Corvette roadster.
The shift mechanism is housed in the torque tube that runs down the center of the chassis; Flickinger was amazed that when he mounted the body, the 6-speed shifter slipped right through the center of the original access hole in the 50-year-old transmission tunnel.