In the eyes of Jack Curtis, one of 1,591 customers that bought a 1971 Corvette brand new in Steel Cities Gray, the styling of the 1971 Corvette is timeless, but its drivetrain and creature comforts are really beginning to show their age. That wasn’t enough to stop the Horseshoe Bay, Texas, resident from buying another 1971 Corvette in 2013, but before he was going to enjoy the car there were a few things that needed to be changed, and he knew the right shop to do it.
Enter Heartland Customs of Purcell, Oklahoma, a one-shop that specializes in building restomod style Corvettes they call SPECVETTE. The foundation of Jack’s 1971 is a Roadster Shop chassis custom ordered to Heartland Customs specifications. At the rear, the chassis is mini-tubed to accept 12-inch backspaced wheels. In place of the stock 1971 Corvette independent rear suspension the SPECVETTE chassis utilizes Roadster Shop’s IRS built around a Strange Engineering 9-inch differential with limited slip and 3.50 gears. For rear brakes there’s a pair of Corvette C6 Z06 14-inch rotors tucked deep inside custom-designed 19-inch EVOD billet wheels shod with 345/35/19 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
In front, the SPECVETTE chassis features Roadster Shop’s Fast Track IFS. The Roadster Shop says, “The geometry has been designed to offer increased negative camber gains during hard cornering, controlled and lowered roll center and exhibits nearly immeasurable bumpsteer through full travel. To keep body roll completely under control, we have integrated a large 1.25-inch diameter splined sway bar with Corvette endlinks into the design of the crossmember for maximum clearance. For additional strength, the Fast Track IFS employs the use of large diameter 1 5/8-inch lower and upper control arms, which are specifically designed to allow clearance for a wider wheel and tire combinations.” The C6 Corvette Z06 spindles are mounted with C6 Corvette Z06 14-inch disc brakes slipped inside a pair of 19-inch EVOD wheels shod with 285/35/19 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Suspension settings from soft touring to ultra-stiff track settings are adjustable on the fly via an electronically controlled touchscreen in the center console.
The center console in Jack’s 1971 Corvette contains considerably more modern features than any 1971 Corvette Chevrolet ever made, including the 1971 Corvette star car spotted in James Bond’s 1979 movie Moonraker.
Compton’s Custom Interiors of Fort Worth, Texas, performed the interior work in Jack’s Corvette; one of the few things not produced in-house at Heartland Customs. Covered from door to door in Relicate black leather, the bucket seats from Snowden Upholstery Supply feature seatbelts from Seatbelt Planet. The dashboard with custom one-off Classic Instruments gauges featuring Stingray needles was completely fabricated by Compton Custom Interiors. Of particular interest to gun enthusiasts is the concealed in-dash retractable holster. The Vintage Air Gen IV air-conditioning is among the functions controlled from the touchscreen in the center console. The window glass came from Corvette Central and the steering wheel is by Momo. For in-car entertainment, Heartland installed a pure Pioneer system, starting with a Pioneer head unit and backing it with two 2-inch Pioneer coaxial speakers, a pair of Pioneer 6 1/2-inch midrange speakers and a shallow Pioneer 10-inch subwoofer.
The bodywork, or plastic surgery as some refer to restoring or customizing fiberglass, was done entirely by Heartland Customs. Heartland lengthened the L88 hood to delete the windshield wiper panel and performed other trick customizing touches undetectable to the untrained eye. To form a true candy color using PPG products from start to finish Heartland laid down a metallic silver base then second in the three-stage candy apple paintjob was a rich translucent red named “Georgia Red” in honor of Jack’s granddaughter. The final stage was several deep coats of PPG DBU clear followed with a color-sand and rubout. Gray accents were done in Steel Cities Gray.
The custom grille machined out of billet aluminum was designed and produced by Greening Auto Company of Cullman, Alabama. All of the chrome plating on Jack’s Corvette, Heartland entrusted to Diversified Plating Ltd of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The high-end treatment didn’t stop when it came time to show prep and power Jack’s Corvette. The 427-inch engine is a 2012 Chevrolet Performance LS7 crate engine meticulously painted to match the Corvette’s Georgia Red body color. A fully polished Magnuson supercharger sits poised atop to give an estimated 700 horsepower with around 550 lb-ft of torque. Custom engine covers with special chrome emblems finish the top end. A chromed serpentine belt system drives accessories, plus the inner fenderwells and firewall have been smoothed. The exhaust begins with a pair of stainless steel Roadster Shop headers dumping into 3-inch stainless steel pipes into a pair of Borla stainless steel mufflers; custom tips complete the system. The Hurst-shifted six-speed T-56 Magnum transmission relies on a dual disc McLeod Kevlar clutch for smooth shifts with a positive transmission of power to the asphalt.
Heartland Customs presented Jack’s 1971 Corvette to him at SEMA 2015, but as soon as the car has made a few bows Jack’s intention is to drive the car and let people know, “I look forward to getting it out and showing it off, plus showing people that a Heartland Customs Corvette can go even better than it can show!”