First-gen Vettes have never been known for handling prowess. When new they could compete with other sports cars, but once the '63 Corvette Sting Ray came out with its independent rear suspension, the handling woes of the solid axle cars were exposed like Tiger Woods in the tabloids. Undaunted, it was a C1 Vette that The Roadster Shop chose to enter in the second-annual Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenge.
The Roadster Shop is known for building some of the best handling muscle cars on the planet. Its selection of newly-manufactured chassis come equipped with the modern suspension parts necessary to make a classic car handle unlike anything from days of old. When it came time to design a bolt-on chassis for the '53-62 Corvettes, a basket case '62 was found to be used for mock up work, and eventually built into a demo vehicle for the new chassis.
That is, until Barry Bloomquist walked into the shop. He had stopped by to get parts for his '56 Ford pickup when he spied the '62 being worked on. One thing led to another, and in July of 2008 Barry became the new owner of the Corvette. The plan was to build a chassis offering unparalleled handling, performance, and ride comfort while fitting the stock Corvette body. Barry and Jeremy Gerber, one of The Roadster Shop's owners, began brainstorming the car's particulars, and the initial plan soon morphed into a vehicle of epic proportions. One key theme was to build a Corvette with the looks of a modern concept car if GM built a '62 Corvette today. Artist Eric Brockmeyer was called in for visual renderings of the ideas being discussed and design input.
For the front suspension, the C1 uses Detroit Speed & Engineering components. During the design process, all ideas were heavily inspired by European supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, and others. Jeremy and Roadster Shop's chief fabricator Chad Glasshagel worked together on the build. Numerous hand-formed aluminum pieces were made, and hours were spent mocking up everything to ensure every line, angle, and curve of the Vette flowed smoothly. Dean Ellis, Roadster Shop's CNC plasma cutting and C.A.D. design chief, made the custom brackets and mounts on the car, and Jim Taylor handled the fiberglass work. Once finished, the car went to Joe Belfiore in The Roadster Shop's paint department, where he practically lived getting the body prepped and painted.
For power, the Corvette uses a Turn Key Engine Supply-built and tuned LS7 crate engine with custom exhaust, connected to a Tremec T56 trans custom-built by Bowler Performance Transmission. Power goes through a 9-inch Factory-built 9-inch style rear with Strange Engineering 31-spline axles and Tru Track limited slip differential. Braking is handled by Brembo at all four corners, with massive six-piston calipers on 14-inch rotors up front, and four-piston calipers on 13-inch rotors out back. Forgeline custom three-piece aluminum wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires hold the car to the asphalt.
Once finished, it was time for the "C1-RS" (as it was christened) to take on one of its designed challenges, winning the Goodguys 2009 Street Machine of the Year award. The C1-RS took top honors, stunning the judges with its awesome looks and head-spinning autocross performance.
Driver's Impression-On the Autocross Course First off, this is "That Car." You know, the one that just stands out no matter what. It oozes arrogance, dares you to challenge limits. It makes you run with scissors. Hell, it's the reason we want to eat dessert as an appetizer. The image and theme, drivetrain and chassis, the workmanship and attention to detail-all were proof that The Roadster Shop stepped up to the plate and hit a homer with this Corvette.