Editor's note: The difference between creating a one-of-a-kind custom and bringing a concept to market can be of staggering magnitude. Such is the case for the Cavallo GT. This wild, almost completely re-bodied C5 made its first public appearance at the 1999 SEMA Show. It was to be marketed by Redline Motors L.L.C. and C5 Concepts, and offered with three levels of performance upgrades with tire and wheel packages, suspension and brake modifications, and from 400 to 500 horsepower. We were highly impressed by what we saw, ran a couple of photos of it in the March 2000 issue in our SEMA coverage, and anxiously awaited the opportunity to both test a Cavallo GT and to shoot one for a feature. Then the car and the companies it was to be marketed by seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth. Needless to say, we were both surprised and pleased to see the car reappear a few months ago under the aegis of Blue Dot Design and HBW Body Works, and then to see it in person at the NCM's 8th Anniversary Celebration over the Labor Day weekend. Nearly two years have passed, but the car still is, in our eyes, a stunning piece of work, and we were quite pleased to assign the "shoot" to longtime contributor Jerry Heasley.
While it's unmistakably a C5, the Cavallo GT is, according to designer Ken Grant, "an exercise in restraint because we wanted to take the sophistication of the C5 and bring out the raw, bold proportions of the Viper." Grant is an experienced automotive designer who worked for Ford for over 10 years. His last corporate projects were working on the '99 Mustang re-design, followed by the upcoming '02 model, two-seater Thunderbird.
Then he ventured out on his own to start an automotive aftermarket company doing "visual appearance accessories" (custom body panels). The front fascia for Ford's F-150 Harley Davidson package was one of Ken's designs.
He sold that business and started Blue Dot Design in Livonia, Michigan, with Paul Burke. Paul owned a new C5 and said, "It's the ideal car to re-body. Nothing is sonic welded."
Ken remembers, "We were wondering what to do when we grew up and decided to dive in and do something for ourselves for a change."
Both Ken and Paul think that's why this design came off so clean. They had nobody to please but themselves. Burke remembers the Vette was an impulse. "We re-clayed the whole body in about three weeks, then cast the original body from that clay."
Of the design parameters, Ken says, "We wanted to enhance the car, proportionally. The width and the fullness of the shape of the Vette is a little on the thin side, if you compare it to our Cavallo. If you put them side-by-side, the Cavallo has just got a little bit more volume. The C5 is very subtle and refined The idea was to take the C5's design elements and exaggeate them. We were restrained only by the existing lighting and the mounting points for the body panels."