CAROL's 62 Frame Conversion

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I started my project in January 2000 with the purchase of  a '62 that had a non original engine and transmission and the front clip had been replaced with a one piece unit so there was no way that this car could easily be made into an NCRS car. This way I didn't feel so bad about cutting up a "good" car.

I did a lot of research on the different frames and conversions being offered and decided on the Paul Newman Car Creations type which basically consists of removing the old C1 suspension and grafting on brackets to enable the bolting on of a C4 suspension. At the time I started researching this project (January 2000) I called Paul Newman and he quoted me a price of $5495 plus shipping of $400 each way (I live in North Carolina and Newman's is in California). Anyway, when I got around to shipping my frame (July 2000) the shipping was going to be $1500 each way, so I decided that for $5400+$3000 shipping, I could buy the materials and tools necessary to do the job myself.

I might mention that I do have a lot of welding experience, having lived on a farm most of my life you tend to break a lot of stuff that needs to be repaired.  My previous car experience has been in building dune buggys and restoring a few Corvairs, but nothing quite as extensive as this project.

I talked to Paul Newman in Carlisle (August 2000) and he told me that the freight companies had recently reclassified this type of shipment and that a lot of other people had run into the same problem. I think since then he has someone who goes around the US and will transport your frame to and from California for around $400 each way.

I looked at several other frame conversions and some tube frames and I chose the Newman design based on several things.

1. The Newman design uses (basically) the stock C4 suspension. Almost all of the other frames require that you narrow the front and rear suspensions which involves shortening the half shafts in the rear and using a "non stock" method of mounting the front suspension so that it can be narrowed. (Note: since the time I started my project, several of the conversion frame manufacturers offer a full width suspension). You also have to shorten the power steering arms. Almost all of the people who sell the narrowed frames will tell you that you cannot fit the wheels/tires under a stock '62 body without narrowing the suspension. Not true, but you will have to be careful about the offset on the wheels that you use.

2. The idea of having a "stock" suspension on the car makes it a lot easier to find parts in case something breaks.

3. Most of the other frames used a coil over shock design which I have never cared for. I always considered the coil overs to be a bit pricey and weak looking (maybe the newer ones are OK).

4. Even though I never measured one directly, the tube frame looked to have less ground clearance. I have a C5 and the last thing I wanted was another ground scraper.

Through the internet, I met several people who had Newman frames and went to see two of these before deciding on this design. The workmanship on his frames is outstanding. I would suggest that you call Paul Newman and talk to him before deciding on what frame to use. He is an extremely nice guy and a wealth of information.

The one thing that the Newman conversion requires is the suspension from a C4. I used the suspension from an '84 Z51 car but would probably have been better off using one from an '85-'87. Different front sway bar, and softer springs in the '85-'87's. The '84-87's also had a slightly narrower suspension than the later C4's which makes it easier to find wheels and tires to fit under the fenders.

I told myself that when this project was finished that I would not start another one, but I am seriously thinking about building another car.  Some of the current tube frames offer a lot more rigidity (at least that is what they claim) than the old box rail frames and that has been my only complaint with my car, a few body squeaks when you cross uneven surfaces such as a steep driveway cut.   Other than that the car runs great.  I haven't timed it but I would guess that it is as quick (if not a little quicker) that my '98 Corvette, at least up to about 100 mph where aerodynamics start to take over.  My mileage around town has been about 20-25 and about 28-30 on Interstate cruising.

I am by no means an expert on these frame conversion cars, but if you have any questions about my project, please feel free to contact me.