Custom Cruise Friday
Within the classic car restoration world, the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona is the place to be. Each annual auction represents hundreds of combined years of automotive history. Ray Smitke of Edmonton appreciates these cars more than most. As one of the area’s more prolific automotive collectors, he had the opportunity to add an important piece to his collection a 1962 Chevy Corvette Convertible – this week’s Custom Cruise Friday feature. Smitke and his wife, Judy, have summer home near Scottsdale, where the auction takes place. After seeing the Inferno Red car in a tent outside the auction stage, then again under the lights, he had to get it.
“It drives nice and it’s very solid. It’s got a lot of get up and go,” Smitke said. “It’s a fun little car to drive around in.”
Taking home an instant classic
The lifespan of the Chevrolet Corvette spans seven generations and over 60 years. In Smitke’s opinion, none of them have the instant appeal of the 1962 Corvette, especially as a convertible. And especially when that Corvette convertible has a fiery red paint scheme. His car may not have a period correct color, but that really couldn’t matter less to Smitke.
“It’s a head-turner,” Smitke said. “It takes you back to your earlier years.”
Before Smitke took the 1962 Corvette home from the auction, it went through a complete restoration process. Every nut and bolt was removed and the car ended up falling under the new “resto-mod” category. This means that much of the body and interior have been restored to original or better condition. However, the powertrain has been upgraded to produce more power and offer better overall performance. The result is a car that is far easier to drive than what would have been produced in the early 1960s.
“I think the younger generation, as well as us Baby Boomers like the original look,” Smitke said. “But we also like the better performance, handing and drivability. It’s the best of both worlds.”
What’s it got under the hood?
Powering the 1962 Chevy Corvette Convertible is a new General Motors Ram Jet 350 engine with fuel injection. The car will make 350 horsepower which is corralled by the four-speed T10 transmission and Positraction rear end. Smitke also upgraded the stereo in the car. It’s still of a vaguely vintage transistor variety, but it works better than what would have been originally offered.
Life long GM fan
Smitke’s humble roots begin with him working on the family farm admiring the fancy cars he would occasionally encounter. He picked up the initial admiration for General Motors vehicles from his father who almost exclusively owned Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles in Southern Manitoba.
“I think they built a lot of great cars over the years,” Smitke said.
The admiration of the General Motors family grew into something between an avid hobby and an obsession. Smitke moved to Edmonton in 1969 and as he established himself and raised a family his collection of cars began to grow. As of today his collection has reached a dozen classic GM vehicles running from this week’s feature car to the most desired GM muscle cars and luxury rides.
“I have a bunch of cars I was only able to dream about on the farm,” Smitke said. “Luck and good fortune have come about so I can own a few of them.”
Do you have a special or restored car in your garage you’d like to show off? If you do, we would love to tell your story and put a few photos online. Owners that would like to have a Custom Cruise Friday feature done should send a few photos and pertinent information to Don Wheaton Brand Manager Melina Kawecki by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.