Enhancing the look of the new Stingray is no simple task, given how much effort GM put into the body shape. With extensive use of CFD (computational flow dynamics), Corvette engineers analyzed digital “ribbons” of airflow, allowing them to trace the path of a single air molecule in and around the body.
As a result, the look of the C7 wasn’t merely about styling, but aero driven in order to keep up with an increased focus on track performance. The airflow aspect had to not only reduce fuel consumption and optimize lift/drag characteristics, but also enhance several other areas, such as brake and differential cooling.
Space doesn’t permit covering all those technical aspects in detail, but it does indicate a decided shift in design emphasis. Looking back on the history of various Corvette body shapes, it hasn’t always been about functionality and pure aerodynamics. At one point, Zora Arkus-Duntov and Bill Mitchell differed about the shape of the C3 (produced from 1968-’82). Duntov, a race-bred engineer, wanted it to be smaller, lighter and more slippery. Mitchell, a marketing maven who understood how styling can impact sales, wanted it to be sexier even if that meant increased wind resistance. Mitchell won out, and the coke-bottle curves of the C3 became enormously popular.
Which leads us to Ivan Tampi’s curvaceous C7 conversion, called the XIK Widebody kit. (The initials are a play on the expression “it’s sick.”) The massive, bulging fenders make an impressive visual statement, as do a number of upgrades to the exterior, with extensive use of carbon fiber. So much so that it’s nearly unrecognizable as a Corvette, with the look of a European exotic.
The body conversion has 15 main components in all. These consist of front and rear splitters, along with a variety of vents, overlays and bezels. The interior also has cover pieces for the dash, console and door panels, plus suede-style Alacantara and leather upholstery.
The rolling stock is much meatier than factory, with Kompression Wheels’ Murci Twisted, measuring 20x10 up front and 21x14 in the rear, wrapped with Pirelli rubber (285/25/20 fronts, 355/25/21 rears).
Tampi didn’t come by these eye-catching Corvette mods easily. He has been muscling up a wide variety of cars for more than two decades. A self-taught automotive designer, as well as in composite technology and fabrication, he started out in the mid-1990s by creating a front bumper design for the Honda Civic in his garage while living in his parents’ attic in Los Angeles. He named the new design The Street Fyghter. It was such a hit that he followed up with The Street Fyghter II, and a full body kit as well, called Black Widow.
When Tampi shifted his attention to the Ford Mustang market his company, Ground Designs 2000, grew rapidly. Unfortunately, a number of other aftermarket companies took note of his success and splashed his Black Widow design for the Mustang and undersold him.
Fortunately, Ford was impressed by Ivan’s creativity and gave him two project cars to build and market: a Focus and an F-150. Ford asked him to create a body kit design to help promote its latest model vehicles. His Ford Focus design won Ford Choice awards at the SEMA show in 2003.
Despite his design achievements, Tampi took a business hiatus for several years, and pursued a venture in the fashion industry. But his automotive passion didn’t die, and he later came back with a vengeance.
In the summer of 2013, he completed a widebody kit design for the BMW Z4 and debuted it at the 2014 SEMA Show. Although it didn’t do as well as he hoped, he realized that the upcoming 2014 Corvette C7 was the hot ticket—no surprise there. While walking the SEMA show he took note of some new Corvette feature vehicles with widebody kits and said to himself, “This is right up my alley. It’s what I’m known for!”
Tampi got straight to work on some renderings. But one thing was missing: he needed a Corvette. He partnered up with longtime friend Bob Matias and formed a new company, Ivan Tampi Customs (ITC). This firm purchased a new Shark Gray 2016 Stingray in September 2015, yet there was still another challenge. Tampi had less than four weeks to transform his renderings into an actual widebody shape and make it to the SEMA show.
Not only that, he was taking his fabricating skills to a whole new level, in keeping with the GM technology that went into the C7’s design. Gone were the days of eyeballing the measurements to create a kit. Tampi made his carbon-fiber components with a much higher degree of accuracy and precision, using the latest in techniques for 3D scanning, Alias autocad and a five-axis milling machine.
While subcontractors provided the materials and technology needed to make the new widebody Corvette design, Tampi was hard at work on the physical aspects, and the new shape began to come together in short order. But it was still a daunting task, as he had to form the plugs, plus make the parts and pull the stock Corvette bumpers off and install his new design. All the while shaping and perfecting the fit, putting on all the trim pieces and then getting it painted and transported to Las Vegas. And all this would be accomplished by him and only him.
Ivan Tampi Customs debuted the XIK Widebody kit at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas as a feature vehicle. A few months later in 2016, Jonathan Vaknin was searching online for a custom design, looking at hundreds of photos. When coming across the XIK, he stopped in his tracks.
“It was amazing,” he recalls. “I fell in love!” He says he had never seen anything like it, and knew he had to have it.
After taking his car in for a fitting, it took Tampi about two weeks to install the body components. (ITC only sells a factory-installed body package, starting at $15K, not including paint, wheels, tires and interior upgrades). Then Vaknin had a custom mix of red with gold paint applied by Donlyson Auto Concepts, along with fitting new wheels and tires. All told, it took nearly four months. But he wasn’t done yet.
About a month after getting the car back, he shipped it to Tampi right before 2016 SEMA to get an interior redo as well. “It was a crazy build,” Tampi notes.
Once the car’s ultra-aero shape and cabin remodeling were completed, Jonathan was so wowed by the look, he’s decided to up the output to more than 1,000 horses by the 2017 SEMA Show, probably with a ProCharger supercharger and other performance parts. Not only that, he has a new paint scheme in mind. Some Corvette projects are never done. Vette
Photos by Steve Temple