Half-Century Hauler

Years after a ruinous autocross mishap, a ’62 racer emerges as a show-winning period custom

Photo: Half-Century Hauler 1
October 27, 2022

Nostalgia has always been a big part of the automotive hobby, with television shows featuring fast or otherwise notable vehicles providing a ready source of inspiration for car-crazed youths. That type of fascination was something that Maurice “Moe” Boetto, a retired postal clerk from Winter Park, Florida, could identify with. His childhood obsession was the Corvette driven by the fictional characters Tod Stiles (played by Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis) as they traveled the show’s titular Route 66. Although the key players interacted with dozens of Hollywood’s A-list actors along the way, most enthusiasts emphatically cite the car as the real star of the program.

Route 66’s producers used a 1960 Corvette for the pilot, swapping cars each year for a newer model and ending with a ’63 Fawn Beige Corvette Stingray convertible in the fourth and final season. (Because the show was filmed in black and white, neutral colors like silver and gray were chosen over brighter reds and yellows in an effort to minimize unwanted reflections.) The TV exposure coincided with—and perhaps even influenced—a sharp rise in popularity for America’s Sports Car, with sales topping 10,000 units for the first time during the year the series debuted. It also established a lifelong goal in a young Moe Boetto.

A decade or so later, in 1972, Boetto was in the Navy, stationed in Charleston, South Carolina. He had a ’64 Ford Falcon Sprint at the time, but what he really wanted was a first-generation Corvette. Excitement ran high, then, when he finally discovered a ’62 Vette on a local used-car lot. Boetto knew that the final-year C1 rivaled the best sports of its era, with a solid reputation for performance and fun. The one Boetto was looking at had the new-for-’62 327 V-8, replacing the previous 283, along with a Borg Warner four-speed. Although the well-used car needed considerable refurbishing, and Boetto’s Falcon was pristine, he drove the C1 off lot convinced that he had gotten the better deal. At the time, he was unaware of the prominent role this car would play in his life for the next half-century.

Photo: Half-Century Hauler 2

The highly modified 383 follows the recurring theme of blending old and new. There’s also a touch of humor: Coors beer cans, in place for the last 40 years, act as a wrapper for the MSD ignition coil and a radiator catch can.

There’s something about using a specialty vehicle for its original purpose, and while Corvettes are certainly exciting on the boulevard, Boetto believed that the marque’s racing heritage couldn’t be denied. Some initial changes were needed on the newly acquired car before it could effectively compete, so restorative work began right away. First, the drivetrain was replaced with a modified 350 and a four-speed Muncie. Back then, the aftermarket featured very few suspension upgrades, so the car ran stock underpinnings. In 1974, once the ’62 was ready to roll, Boetto joined the Charleston Corvette Club and began enjoying his ride on autocross tracks as well serious venues like Darlington and his favorite, Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before long, it was obvious that the car and driver were meant for each other.

Boetto’s almost-stock Corvette, with no roll bar and street tires, embraced its role as a track star, leading the way to the winners’ circle with astonishing consistency. Many changes occurred over the years, with new engines, more horsepower, and trophies carefully stowed on the luggage rack each weekend. Moreover, the camaraderie of Boetto’s racing friends became just as important as his trips to the track.

Everything changed in 1989 when Boetto let a fellow autocrosser drive his beloved Corvette at the Florida State Corvette Convention. It was a common practice for him to lend the car to others in the hope of introducing more people to the sport. Unfortunately, this driver was used to an automatic transmission and stepped on the clutch instead of the brake. The car plowed into a building, demolishing the front end. At that point, family and career took precedence over car repair, and it would be almost two decades before the wrecked Corvette would be roadworthy again.

Photo: Half-Century Hauler 3

Reborn Runner

Over the years, Boetto was always searching for ways to rejuvenate the car on a tight budget. After several major disappointments, he finally found a body shop that would

work with him. The team at Blue Moon Motorsports in Longwood, Florida, agreed to a pay-as-you-go plan, rebuilding the car a little at a time over the course of four years. Although they corrected multiple issues, the Corvette was still a shell when Boetto picked it up with a plan to complete many of the final details himself. . It would be another two years before the vintage C1 would see the sun again, but it was time well spent.

Everything was carefully thought out, from interior and exterior colors to refitting engine number eight, thanks to Boetto’s friend Jay Hedgecock. To provide race-winning power, the engine builder assembled a 383 stroker that Boetto describes as “the ultimate badass motor.” In addition to an impressive list of bulletproof internals, the V-8 was outfitted with a Speedmaster fuel-injection system, complete with eight 50mm, trumpet-style throttle bodies that simultaneously added power and style points. An MSD Blaster electronic ignition provides spark,

Photo: Half-Century Hauler 4

From modern gauges and an upgraded stereo to dream catchers from New Mexico hanging from the mirror, the ’62 displays a half-century history of automotive accomplishments.

and Hooker Competition headers feed Flowmaster mufflers to pump a menacing performance rumble through the tailpipes.

Hedgecock and Boetto also brought the C1’s handling into the new millennium, thanks to a combination of Jim Meyer Racing’s independent front suspension and a four-link, 3:70 Posi rear; Moser axles; Viking coil-overs; and Wilwood disc brakes. The final mechanical upgrade was an ididit rack-and-pinion power-steering setup. Wanting to retain a vintage look but with modern strength, Boetto chose 15×8-inch Centerline rims for each corner, with Cooper rubber up front and aggressive Mickey Thompsons on the rear. Gene Brownlee, one of Boetto’s neighbors in Winter Park, was also a vital part of the rebuild effort, dealing with the steering, brakes, and Vintage Air system, along with tons of intricate fabrication work.

Moving inside the car, the driver enjoys a handmade steering wheel on an ididit column, along with an ididit shifter controlling the Tremec five-speed manual. Dakota Digital gauges populate the dash, while dark-brown leather with rust-orange cloth inserts cover the seats and door panels. The modern Pioneer multimedia receiver features a 7-inch motorized touch-screen with built-in Bluetooth, creating surround sound from four speakers in the cab.

Photo: Half-Century Hauler 5

The Corvette’s lightly refreshed body was already a stunner, so Boetto applied relatively subtle upgrades like a bulged, vented hood and behind-the-grille fog lamps that didn’t distract from the original features. Perhaps the most dramatic element of the exterior, however, is the stunning paint choice. Bold was the goal, and the Sunburst Orange paint, sprayed by Blue Moon, certainly achieves that aim.

Although this family favorite C1 is now semi-retired from racing, it still gets used regularly. In fact, the period-custom ’62 seems to be particularly well-suited to its new role—namely, winning trophies at car shows around the Southeast U.S.

“To me, winning is recognition for the hours and money spent on the car, as well as the talent provided by friends and family,” says Boetto. “I think when it’s displayed at automotive events, the car takes people back to the day when we all wanted a Corvette, especially those of us who enjoyed Route 66. I’ve had a few really great offers [to buy] it, but after 50 years, it’s not just a car. It’s part of me as much as my family…and it’s definitely not for sale.”

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Also from Issue 158

  • 1974 LS4 Convertible
  • Original '94 ZR-1
  • "Patriotic" '67 Coupe
  • History: The SS Goes Racing
  • Racing: Laura Klauser Profile
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2023 Corvette Buyer's Guide
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