It's like he saw us coming from a mile away. When we showed up for Americruise 2006, a big part of our weekend agenda was to select our first-ever Custom of the Year. Little did we know that Gary Kuck had an agenda too.
Gary owns approximately 80 hot rods, customs, musclecars, and classics, every one of which is a driver, and any one of which would have been welcome at the Americruise. But when he read about the Custom of the Year competition, he registered the one most likely to take home the top honors-his impressively high-performing '60 Corvette roadster.
Boesch Hot Rod Concepts in Humphrey, Nebraska, built the Corvette in 2003, but not for Gary. It belonged to a friend of his, but Gary had always shown interest in it. Gary's wife Sue finally bought the car and gave it to him as a Christmas present in 2004.
When the Corvette first showed up at Boesch, it was a former fuel-injected car with no engine and a mangled front clip. Rather than restore the car to its original condition, the decision was made to build it as a one-of-a-kind custom. The factory frame was replaced with a custom full-tube skeleton hanging more up-to-date Corvette components and Air Ride Technologies ShockWaves air shocks.
The empty engine compartment was filled with an LS1 and six-speed modified with some aftermarket and custom-built parts. The extensive upgrades to the drivetrain and suspension turned the Corvette into a ride that, as Gary puts it, "drives like a banshee. It goes brutally fast. It stops on a dime. It corners. It does it all well!"
It also has looks that can keep up with all that performance. The body was customized left to right, front to back, and turned into a true windowless, topless roadster. If the profile of Gary's Corvette looks a little more rakish than other '60s you've seen, it's not the angle of the photo. When the wrecked front clip was replaced, the new front end was installed 1 1/2 inches lower, bringing the nose closer to the pavement, changing the profile line. It was a huge job for a subtle change, but it completely transforms the personality of the custom Corvette from sporty to something a little more aggressive. The jet black paint job just adds to the effect.
The effect is enhanced even more when Gary gets behind the wheel. In addition to just liking high-performance cars, Gary has a little bit of experience with road racing and drag racing, and is a two-time winner of the Great American Race.
When he came out to Americruise to compete for Custom of the Year, he brought that competitive experience and attitude along with the Corvette, drove the car like he stole it, and scooped up the big prize.
Now that he's won Custom of the Year, Gary's agenda is to keep driving the Corvette as much as he can. Of course, that's his agenda with all 80 of his cars, so he probably won't be able to keep this one on the road as much as he'd like. Not a bad problem to have.