Bill Pierceall’s 612,000-Mile 1960 Corvette!
Pretty HOT-looking for a 50-year old babe! I’ll bet that Hemingway never drove anything like this!
Before The Corvette Report was a full-fledged blog, it was a monthly email newsletter. A regular feature of the newsletter was titled “Let’s Play Corvette Odd-Ball! Quirky Vette Factoids” In the October 2008 newsletter I posed the question, “What’s the highest mileage Corvette on record?” With a little help from former VETTE Magazine assistant editor, John Nelson, I reported on a VERY high-mileage Vette, owned by Bill Pierceall.
As of the 2008 report based on the June 2001 story in VETTE, Bill’s updated ‘60 Corvette had just over 500,000 miles on the odometer. In the ‘90s the car had been updated with a completely new ‘96 Grand Sport suspension and LT4 engine. The back end of the car had been widened 3-inches per side to cover the wide GS rear tires, dechromed of the side cove trim and the front fender top trim, and then painted pearl blue. I won’t retell the story, but you can check out the VetteWeb post with this link…
http://www.vetteweb.com/features/vet0601a2_1960_chevy_corvette_convertible/index.html <– there’s a typo on this page. The story is from 2001, not 2009.
The 2,900-pound machine is good for a 162-mph ride, limited by the C1’s aerodynamics and what Bill calls “the pucker factor.” (I think most of us can relate to that). Pierceall obviously followed Duntov’s instructions to the letter, to all Corvette owners to “Drive and ENJOY their Corvette!,” and then some!
What’a sight! Oh, and that big hill behind Bill’s ’60 Corvette is Mt. St. Helens.
Now one might think, that’s the end of the story – 500K-plus miles for an almost 50 year old car, pretty cool. But hold on, there’s more. I started a Corvette Report Newsletters archives page early in ‘08 and posted links to PDF versions of all of the newsletters. What follows is a testimonial to the power of search engines and how posted stories live on for years.
Early this week (9-14-10) I received an email from Bill Peirceall with an update on his high-mileage Vette. This guy SURE likes to drive! The car now has 612,000 miles on the OD!!! So, I think it’s best to let Bill take it from here.
Take it away, Bill…
You asked for an update on my high-miles Vette, so here you go.
In front of the Peace Arch, on the Canadian side of the US-Canadian boarder in Blaine, WA.
I now have 612,000 miles on the car. The LT4 engine has been out of the Vette twice for rebuild, the first time to rebuild it after accumulating only 80,000 miles. The second time was to correct problems from the first rebuild. In 2005, the Vette was in a body shop after I was rear-ended. Since I wanted to remove the engine to repaint the engine compartment, I thought, why not? (Another rear-end collision in 2009 by a woman driver in a 1992 Corvette (How EMBARASING! One Vette to another. – Ed) caused far less damage thanks again to my trailer hitch and a much lower impact speed. ) After the engine was reinstalled I drove the car only 5,000 miles before problems became apparent. The builder failed to rebalance the now-stroked to 396 cubic inch crank and consequently the main bearings were pounded out.
Bill’s high-mileage roller parked on the Canadian side of the border inspection station at the Fort Kent, Maine.
When the engine was out to correct all the problems, time had come for more power. AFR heads and a 242 degree Comp Cam on 115 degree lobe centers and a self-ported factory intake found their way into the new configuration.
The car honked!! But low speed drivability really sucked. Several visits to self-proclaimed tuning gurus produced predictable results – no improvement. All they wanted to do was raise the peak power. Jeez, any tuner could do that. I wanted the engine to behave between 900 and 2,000 rpms. Watching these various ‘tuners’ in action demonstrated that software and electronics eliminated the mystery of tuning, so I bought Tuner C.A.T.S. to reprogram the 95 Camaro PCM I use to control the LT4 gizmos and DataMaster to log the resulting performance.
Looking across the boarder into Tijuana, Mexico. Those mag-style C4 ZR-1 wheels look right at home on ’60 Corvette.
It is a steep learning curve, but I’m here to testify if I can do it so can the average gearhead. I can drive the Vette in 6th gear at 1,000 rpms with no bucking, pinging, lurching, or objection. Later I bought a wide-band O2 sensor setup from Innovate and I’m here to tell you the difference feels like going from a two barrel carb to a four barrel carb,
The first week of October I’m off to Wendover Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats for the SCTA World Finals to witness my first event on the salt. I don’t think they will let me make an official pass because I don’t have a roll bar. But after everybody is gone…..who knows? My previous best with the stock LT4 and 330 horsepower is 162-mph (gps measured). I don’t know exactly what the new 396 stroker motor will put out, so if I pull this stunt off, I’ll have another report.
So there you have it Corvette fans, Bill’s 50-year old Corvette is still burning rubber, posting excellent performance numbers, and returning miles and miles of smiles. Bill didn’t mention what kind of HP numbers the tuners were getting with his 396 LT4. With the extra cubes from the stroker crank, AFR heads, Comp Cam, and ported intake, the LT4 is likely somewhere in the low 400-HP range. Powering a 2,900-pound car with a modern suspension and brakes, I’m sure it’s one SWEET ride.
Here’s Bill’s ’60 Corvette in Fort Kent, ME, possibly the beginning or the end of The Twilight Zone. The sign behind the car says it marks the end of US Route One, which begins in Key West, Florida – 2,300 miles away. (Here’s the Twilight Zone part.) The other side of the sign says that it marks the beginning of US Route One, which ends in Key West, Florida… 2,209 miles away. Hmmm. T here’s an ever so slight flare-out just in front of the rear wheel opening. The extra 3-inches added to the rear fenders to cover the big ’96 Grand Sport wheels and tires is hardly noticeable.
Hey Bill! We’ll all be expecting a followup on your trip to Bonneville in October. “200-MPH or BUST!” right? Hey, there’s still time for that roll bar. An “official” time slip would be VERY cool. Thanks Bill!
Save the Wave! – Scott