Corvette Kit Cars - Some Assembly Was Required

Did You Know You Could Buy A C5 In Kit Form Back In The Day?

Richard Newton May 25, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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In early 1999, though, it was still a matter of "How do we get people to buy this damn FRC Corvette?" GM was searching for a way to recover the development costs of the FRC. Extolling the virtue of having a real trunk wasn't going to get the job done. GM ended up trying to convince the public that the FRC was the real performance car of the three body styles. It worked. At least it helped. You'll notice, though, that the FRC was gone with the introduction of the C6.

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What you actually got
One of the most interesting items was what you got with your Corvette kit and what was left out. The idea was to leave out all the parts you didn't need and only include those parts that were necessary. Things got a little confused when some items like the front cowl panel were left out of the kit. When the racers went to buy one at the local dealership, they were told it wasn't available. There was a part number-but no part. When you had a half assembled Corvette in your shop, you really didn't want to hear that excuse.

The Bowling Green plant pulled a few of these cowl panels off the line to meet the needs of the 20 new Corvette kit owners. As these cars went together in 1999, a few more of these problems developed and were quickly solved by making some very special, very small parts runs. Can you imagine asking for 20 of anything in the GM system?

Another interesting problem in 1999 was that no one had really given much thought as to how the body panels would be shipped to the race shops. I imagine someone said, "We can just put the body panels in some cardboard boxes and ship them UPS. OK, next point on the agenda . . . moving right along here." Well, it wasn't quite that easy. One of the fun experiences was trying to assemble your Corvette while you kept one eye out for the UPS delivery truck. Keep in mind that no one had done this before. GM was trying something that had never been done before. It hasn't been done since, either, but that's a whole 'nother issue.

During the Corvette Challenge (1988 to 1989) era, you always got a fully assembled car. Even with Porsche, you got a fully assembled race car. This was the first time a major manufacturer had ever sold race car kits. OK, there was a time back in 1976 when Chrysler tried it, but the cars were pretty complete. This was nothing like the GM SPO effort. I suspect that the Corvette folks weren't even aware of the old Chrysler program. They certainly weren't about to drive across town and find out how it had worked out for Chrysler.

All of the chassis were assembled in the Bowling Green plant but pulled off the assembly line prior to what is known as serialization. In other words, these 20 cars did not have the standard 17-digit VIN. Neither were they counted into the 1999 model year production numbers. All of the cars were given a serial number from GM Motorsports. They ran from 0000001 to 0000020.

When you purchased your car, you not only got a bunch of parts but you got access to a whole bunch of GM engineering talent. The information was made available to all the teams without any favoritism. This was a total team effort on the part of GM Motorsports. They even took Danny Kellermeyer's C5R kit car to the wind tunnel. The results of the wind tunnel test were made available to every car owner. They then went so far as to bring Gib Hufstader out of retirement to act as a liaison between the teams and GM Motorsports. You could find Gib wandering around the pits at the World Challenge events offering support and trying to answer a multitude of questions.

The engine package for these kit cars was slightly different with the utilization of some ASA parts. Actually, the kit car program got the ASA camshaft and valvesprings before the ASA teams got them. The ECM was also an ASA part as was the engine wiring harness.

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