Something just didn't add up. Despite having an all-aluminum suspension, mid 11-second quarter-mile times, gargantuan six-piston brakes, and a rippling 427 kicking out 505 hp, Bill Bouziden's 1963 Chevy Corvette got no respect. After a while, he realized that his muscle car buddies didn't necessarily dislike Corvettes; they just didn't approve of new ones, and his '06 Z06 was way too new. "Late-models are more comfortable to drive, but they just don't have as much street cred as a muscle car. When you roll up to cruise night in a new Corvette, you just don't feel like one of the guys," Bill says. "New Vettes definitely come with a stigma. People just assume you're the rich guy who doesn't know anything about cars, so you can't talk about turning wrenches with the boys. When everyone else is cruising around in Chevelles and GTOs, and you're in a new Corvette, it's just not the same." Something had to change, and that meant going old school.
Unlike some late-model Vette owners-who are essentially glorified ricers but with more money-Bill comes from a long line of blue-collar wrenchers and has owned his fair share of genuine Detroit iron. Having grown up in a household of farmers, Bill and his brothers tinkered with everything from tractors to dune buggies. "We were your typical farming family who used a chain in an oak tree as an engine hoist. Between my brothers and I, we had a different muscle car in our driveway every weekend back in the '60s," he says. Over the years, Bill has owned a '67 GTO, a '67 Chevelle, a '78 Corvette, and a '67 El Camino. After suffering through the ignominy of owning a late-model, he wanted the comfort, driveability, handling, and braking abilities of his Z06 in a midyear Vette wrapper. "I've always wanted to build a Corvette coupe, and what better coupe to build than a '63 split-window."
Bill confided his split-window fantasies to Joe Brown, and in late 2008 the tranny-man-turned-car-builder came through. Right before Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast, the Vette's former owner rushed it inland to escape the storm. The car ended up in Waco, Texas, and since it had been in storage since 1978, the owner decided to sell it rather than drag it back home after Ike passed through. Bill jumped at the opportunity, and was soon the new owner of his dream car. Although the Vette's frame was badly rusted, the rest of the car was in good shape, and it still had its original 327 small-block and four-speed trans. Despite the inherent value of a numbers-matching body and powertrain, Bill didn't hesitate for a second before hatching a plan to tear it apart. "I'm a purist to a certain extent, but so many of these cars were hacked up for drag racing that I didn't care too much about keeping it original," he says. "In stock form, driving one of these cars is like riding in a milk crate with four wheels. They're loud and uncomfortable, and are in dire need of a modern suspension and brakes. I don't like glossy afraid-to-touch cars, so I didn't want loud paint or any chrome on this build."