If you are anything like us, you probably spent quite awhile just staring at the pictures of this 1968 Corvette before even thinking about the words. The wheels, the stance, the bodywork, the side pipes, the paint—it just looks right. It’s not an autocross monster or a dragstrip champ, but it does land right on the sweet spot of looks and all-around performance.
This widebody C3 convertible is the brainchild of Steve Enochs, owner of Muscle Rod Shop in San Antonio, Texas. Steve grew up in central California totally immersed in Corvettes, owning a half dozen in the first decade of his life. He got a lot of attention in central California in his early years as his first car was a 1968 convertible with a license plate that read VETTEKID.
As per usual, the cost of starting a new life and getting married meant selling his Corvettes. The cars were gone but his bug for American muscle never went away. Eventually, he moved to San Antonio, Texas, and in 2002 opened up his own hot rod shop, mostly building custom Mopars. Another decade passed and Steve decided it was time to get back into the world of Corvettes so he freed up some funds by selling his previous build. He started looking for a C2 but when a pretty good 1968 convertible popped up, nostalgia mixed with realistic finances changed his mind and he bought it.
With the revenue from his previous car, Steve started gathering parts and formulating a plan for his 1968. “I’m ashamed to admit,” Steve starts, “that I initially purchased the same old L88 fender flares everyone else runs and mocked them up before clarity set in and it was decided that a widebody build was needed.”
Steve also made a point to clarify what widebody really means, and here’s a hint, “fender flares are not widebody.” What he means when talking about doing a widebody build is actually splitting the body in one or more places and moving the quarter-panels out by adding fiberglass, or sheetmetal, that wasn’t there from the factory. By the time Steve had modified the body to his liking, the Corvette was 6 inches wider at the tailpanel than a stock 1968. Factor in the added-on fender flares and the car is actually 8 inches wider than stock.
To make everything appear uniform, the widening process started at the doors and worked back through the quarters and even the rear bumpers, which each have an extra 3 inches added on. Bonspeed GT-B 20x12 wheels fill the rear wheelwells and are wrapped in 335/30R20 Michelin tires. The modifications to the front of the car are a little less dramatic but Steve did modify the front fenders to have an opening more complementary to the rears. Slightly smaller 18x8 Bonspeed GT-B wheels and 245/40R18 Michelin tires live under the front fenders. Even though this Corvette wasn’t built to handle heavy autocross or road course duty, Steve still wanted ample stopping power. For that reason, behind the wheels he installed Baer six-piston calipers and 14-inch disc brakes front and rear.
He didn’t want to take the easy way out and use L88 parts on the hood either so he took the stock hood and modified the cowl so that a big-block would fit underneath. An extractor opening in the rear of the hood promotes airflow and effectively evacuates heat from the engine bay.
With such extravagant body modifications and wheels, Steve needed the Vette to sit nice and low. To get the job done, Muscle Rod Shop filled a gap in the aftermarket by creating 2-inch drop spindles and a dropped rear crossmember. These alterations bring the mass of the Corvette much closer to the road without altering the suspension travel or stock geometry.
All the engineering and body modifications are tied together by one dramatic-looking paintjob. Steve had the car coated in a custom-mixed pearl green that is comprised of numerous House of Kolor components. Pearl black and copper graphics were added to the hood and tail of the 1968 to really make the pearl green paint pop. You also might notice the skull-topped Corvette emblems on the nose and tail of the Vette, which are now a trademark of Steve’s builds. According to Steve, they are a fun addition that draws a lot of attention from the young and old at local shows.
Under the front skull emblem lives a 427ci crate engine from Chevrolet Performance, replacing the original 327. The engine is a 2015 ZZ427/430 boasting 430 hp at 5,800 rpm and 444 lb-ft of torque. From the factory, the Chevrolet cylinder heads and forged pistons yield a 10:1 compression ratio. The camshaft is a hydraulic roller with 0.527/0.544-inch lift, 224/234-degrees duration at 0.050 and a 110-degree lobe separation angle. The valvetrain is topped with 1.7:1 roller rocker arms. The air is inducted via the stock Chevrolet Performance intake manifold and an 870-cfm Holley carburetor and expelled out ceramic-coated Hedman shorty headers and Chevrolet reproduction 3-inch side pipes. The non-stock aspects of the car’s engine bay include a Vintage Air Front Runner with Vintage Air A/C compressor, a DeWitts radiator and Hydraboost brake booster.
Shifting gears is done manually with an original four-speed transmission that transfers power rearward to the stock C3 third member with 3.36:1 gearing. The independent rear suspension also stays the same, save for the dropped rear crossmember as mentioned previously.
Inside, the open-air cabin of the 1968 is a mostly stock but extremely clean interior all wrapped up in dark gray leather. Tying together the factory gauges and Vintage Air air-conditioning, Steve used wiring from American Autowire.
If you’ve read this far, don’t worry, the words are almost done and you can soon get back to staring at the photographs of this amazing car. Steve said the Vette has won a smattering of Best in Class and Best in Show awards at local car shows, but this car was not built to win any awards, it was built to be enjoyed.