Chevrolet intended to introduce the third-generation Vette in 1967; but when that launch was delayed, the ensuing months generated a lot of rumor and speculation about what the new car was going to look like. The Mako Shark II show car had been feeding that particular rumor mill since as far back as 1965, and a number of renderings on magazine covers of the day only fueled the fire.
It’s no wonder, then, that car customizers at the time looked at those futuristic illustrations and concepts for inspiration. Illinois-based Dave Puhl was one of them, as his House of Kustoms turned a customer’s 1964 convertible into the XC-2, what Rod & Custom magazine’s Spence Murray called “a look into the Corvette’s styling future.”
The Kandy red Vette was featured on the cover of R&C’s October 1967 issue parked alongside a split-window coupe to demonstrate how dramatically Puhl reshaped the drop-top. He turned it into “a genuine roadster-type,” Murray wrote, “with racing windscreen and integral rollbar in keeping with the soon-coming ’68 offerings from the Chevy side of GM.”
Murray noted “a trend making the rounds now toward a W shape, so Dave whipped the front into this configuration and repeated the theme aft, but to a lesser extent.” All the trim was removed, the holes filled, and the rear decklid was “one-pieced to the rest of the body.” The rollbar was tied into the body via a “sailfin” that “swoops from rollbar into rear fender tops, triple-striped to match rocker paint lines,” read a caption. “Have you ever seen what happens when a rocker molding is peeled off a Vette?” Murray asked. “Yecchh! It’s a tough opening to re-panel, but Dave wanted all the trim off in order to keep an off-the-ground appearance.”
Removing the windshield and fitting the Plexiglas windscreen was “also something of a chore,” Murray noted. “The side glass was ash-canned, too.”
Though there are very few detail photos of the interior among Murray’s images, he noted in the story that Puhl took out the Vette’s bucket seats and replaced them with a bench. Huh? It helps to know that the car’s owner, Jeff Kaywood, was one of three brothers in a “swingin’ combo known as ‘Our Generation’ that keeps the Illinois hipsters toe-tappin’ ’round the clock,” said Murray. The bench seat was put in the Vette “so the singin’ trio could tour the nighteries together, no doubt.”
Far out, man.
Photography by Petersen Publishing Archives, Spence Murray