Custom Declaration: Full Custom '98 Corvette

Sixty-five thousand dollars worth of sponsored Corvette parts? Whybuddy, you better have a ...

Christopher R. Phillip May 1, 2007 0 Comment(s)
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The Concept

Of course, everybody knows that Prince sang about a little red Corvette.But until now, far fewer have realized that Prince's former bodyguard,Chuck Bradley, of Tampa, Florida, actually drives a customgreen-and-white C5. You see, when you have protected famous celebritiesand taken the top trophy in the 2002 Amateur Body Building (ABA/INBA)Natural Body Building Competition, driving a Hyundai simply isn't anoption.

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Here's what was left of Chuck's C5 when the thieves got done with it.The wheels, throttle body, and even cylinder heads were snatched.

What is an option, as Chuck found out, is to work with the aftermarketindustry, pitching your Corvette's unique story to receive sponsorbacking. While some Vette owners might think that getting a compedmuffler or a free set of wheels constitutes sponsorship, Chuck took theidea to the extreme and tallied up an estimated $65,000 of support frommore than a dozen companies. Engine components, suspension parts,interior pieces, body and paint work, scissor-style doors, show-carmurals, and a thumping sound system--all were provided gratis in exchangefor the promise of exposure at car shows and in the publishing world'smost august Corvette magazine.

Chuck is a large guy--after all, he is a professional bodyguard--and hehad a similarly large idea for a one-of-a-kind custom C5 Corvette. Hetells VETTE, "I got a vision of this car in my head, and then started tobuild it so others could see what was in my thoughts." Just listening toChuck's description of his vision for the car is fine, but seeing whathe actually accomplished with his C5 is fantastic.

The Challenge

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Shortly after his car was forcibly "decontented," Chuck sketched outthis rendering to serve as a design template during the rebuild. Thecolor scheme changed along the way, but many of the basic stylingelements were retained.

Chuck's tale is a long but unfailingly entertaining one. First, he founda Light Carmine Red Metallic '98 Corvette (Prince would have been proud)listed in his local Auto Trader. Although Chuck's immense size can beintimidating, he tells us that he and the car's elderly owner hit it offimmediately. "I bought the car off a 72-year-old, recently widowed lady.It belonged to her husband. I looked the car over and told her I had todrive it. She threw me the keys and said she had to come along. Weapproached an empty side road. I asked her if I could get on it alittle. She nodded 'yes.' So I got into it some. She pushed down on myknee and told me, 'Stand on it, you pansy.' I stuck it to the floor. Thecar went sideways. I looked at her, and she looked at me. I told her Iwanted it."

But Chuck's dream was stalled when hoodlums vandalized the C5 and robbedit of its heads, intake, throttle body, wheels, and tires. An averagehuman might have given up right there, but as you will see, ChuckBradley is no average human. He contacted VETTE and informed us hewanted his Vette on the cover. Editor Heath told Chuck the car needed alot of work, and besides, its dark-red paint wasn't exactly the idealshade for a feature vehicle. "Don't you worry," Chuck replied. "I'll beback with a car you'll definitely want to put on your cover."




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