Owning an exotic two-seat, ultra-performance car can be a series of trade-offs, especially when it comes to styling and exclusivity over practicality and reliability. That is, except for this one. That's because there's a C6 Corvette at the heart of Karvajal Designs' ZX-1.
You might ask why anyone would want to restyle the sixth generation of America's Only True Sports Car. Karl Hormann, president of Karvajal Designs and Hi-Tech Custom Concepts, says it comes down to what the Midyears and Sharks have. "We took some cues from the '60s-style Corvettes, because the Sting Rays had such sex appeal back then, and from the '70s Corvettes with their curved wheel arches," Karl says of the second- and third-generation Vettes that were backed by the passion that men like Bill Mitchell, Ed Cole, Larry Shinoda, and Zora Arkus-Duntov had for it.
Nowadays, Karl sees The General aiming for just one segment of the market with the C6. "I see that GM designs these cars based on ergonomics and a target market of 55-year-olds-how can the old guys get in the car better, and can they see over the windshield as good," he says. "They're trying to cater too much to that demographic, but, of course, they want to sell the most cars possible." Per Karl, that was a big reason why they went to the drawing board and came up with a C6-based two-seater that, in his words, "gives you real sex appeal again, with the passion that they put in the car in the '60s and '70s."
And, much like the team of stylists, designers, and engineers that brought the Corvette forward in time with the C2 and C3 did, the ZX-1 was created in the "old school" manner. "We designed the car from scratch," Karl says. "We penciled all the designs, we clay-modeled it on the Corvette to make sure everything worked right, the same way GM does today. From there, we went to refining it, and then we went to molds. If we didn't like something, we could tweak or change it right away."
There's more to the ZX-1 you see here than those eye-grabbing body panels covered with Concours-quality paint-much more. The engine bay and chassis get their fair share of attention, with custom billet HRE wheels and Nitto tires at each corner, plus carbon fiber injector covers on the LS-series engine and custom exhaust tips out back, expertly styled to go with the high-zoot bodywork. Inside, luxury items abound. "With the standard package, we give everybody an upgrade to the racing steering wheel, the leather shifter and emergency-brake boots, and floor mats," Karl says. "Then, if you want to get the full-exotic interior, you get one made to the same standard as Ferrari and Maserari. The same coachbuilder that does remodeling work on those cars does that interior for us, also. So we use the same Alcantara suede and Ferrari leather, so you have that same feel when you sit in the car. You feel like you're sitting in a $300,000 exotic."
Are there other options? Yes-plenty of them, inside and out. The ZX-1 you see here is graced by a set of Sparco race bucket seats (Corbeau and Recaro seats are also available) wrapped in Alcantra suede and Ferrari leather, as is the rest of the cabin. Under the hood, there's a Magnuson supercharger whose eight pounds of boost bumps the LS2 engine (in this '07-derived ZX-1) up well over 600 horsepower, with a special long-tube header/X-pipe exhaust system available for even more power. At each corner is a Pfadt adjustable coilover with Pfadt sway bars at each end, and there are huge Baer discs all around (with Brembos optional).
Is this exotic enough for you? Remember what's at the heart of the ZX-1. "We see so many exotics out there in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the maintenance for them that's through the roof," says Karl. "And Corvette is such a great sports car-it is top-of-the-line, as far as I'm concerned, dollar-for-dollar. But they lacked the 'exoticness' and the performance-we tweaked that up a little bit. These cars are so easy to upgrade, just a little here and there, and you have a supercar." One that also carries a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty on the parts they install.
After all that is added on, what is the ZX-1 like to drive? Here's a hint: It's a car to see and be seen in. As Karl puts it, "You're not going to blend in with the crowd with this car!" He continues: "I drive it through some million-dollar neighborhoods, and as soon as you drive it down the street, you get people pointing and giving the thumbs-up sign. It's just amazing!"
What's also amazing about the ZX-1 is not only is it a world-class ultra-high-performance sports car, it's one that the current state of the U.S. dollar now makes it more appealing to overseas and international buyers. "We're working with our coachbuilder to start shipping these internationally, because the dollar is so weak now," Karl explains. "It's such an advantage that we have here. It's like a 35-percent discount when they just switch the currency over to the dollar. That's a big discount, if you've ever heard one!"
Speaking of hearing one, those of you who are in or near Tampa (where Corvette Fever World HQ is) might want to keep their ears perked up and their eyes peeled for newly-converted ZX-1s, should any of Tampa's most notable winter visitors decide to put some of the winner's shares they received for being a part of the New York Yankees' 27th World Championship team into a ZX-1.
Get more information, including the ZX-1 brochure and current options list, online when you visit www.zx1corvette.com.
Data File: '07 Chevrolet Corvette ZX-1 Coupe
Customized By: Karvajal Designs Inc., Mount Vernon, New York
Production C6 with Karvajal Designs' ZX-1 "Wide Body" kit (including wide rear quarter-panels, rear diffusers integrated with rear fascia, custom LED brake/turn signals, LED side-marker lights, "C2-style notchback" rear roofline with headrest fairings)
Conversion by: Karvajal Designs Inc.
Bodywork: Karvajal Designs, Inc.
Paint: Special blend of Victory Red basecoat/clearcoat; Paint preparation and applied by Karvajal Designs Inc.
Frame: OEM 2007 Corvette with hydroformed side rails
Suspension: (Front) Pfadt adjustable coil-overs with Pfadt sway bar (Rear) Pfadt adjustable coilovers with Pfadt sway bar
Steering: OEM 2007 Corvette rack-and-pinion, power-assisted, with custom "D-shaped" steering wheel
Brakes: (Front) Brembo disc brakes disc brakes with 14-inch rotors; (Rear) Brembo disc brakes with 12-inch rotors, 12-inch rotors in rear), with ABS
Wheels: HRE billet aluminum, 19 x 9 1/2 inches in front, 20 x 13 inches in rear
Tires: Nitto NVO, 285/30ZR19 in front, 345/25ZR20 in rear
Modified GM Powertrain LS2 aluminum-block V8
Modifications: Magnuson supercharger, carbon-fiber injector covers
Displacement: 372 cubic inches (6.1 liters)
Compression ratio: 10.7:1
Cylinder heads: OEM LS2 cast aluminum
Ignition: OEM LS2 coil-on-plug electronic
Induction: OEM LS2 sequential electronic fuel injection
Camshaft: OEM LS2 hydraulic roller
Exhaust: Custom Karvajal Designs cat-back system (Available in Stock, Mild or Screamer levels with/without custom headers)
Horsepower: 617 @ 6600 rpm (Advertised)
Torque: 560 ft. /lbs. @ 4100 rpm (Advertised)
GM Powertrain six-speed manual transaxle
Shifter: Karvajal Designs console-mounted short-throw shifter
Final drive ratio: 2.56:1
Modified OEM 2007 Corvette with Karvajal Designs premium leather package
Seats: Sparco race bucket seats upholstered in tan Ferrari leather and black Alcantara suede
Carpets: Custom Karvajal Designs carpets and premium wool floor mats with saddle leather heel pads
Instrumentation: OEM 2007 Corvette (0-200 mph speedometer, 0-8000 rpm tach with 6300 rpm redline, plus ammeter, oil pressure, oil temperature, coolant temperature and fuel level gauges)
Sound system: OEM 2007 Corvette with Bose speakers
HVAC: OEM 2007 Corvette