They were everywhere back in the late '70s and early '80s-fat-fendered Vettes with wild wings, aerodynamic front ends, and bulging quarter panels. Companies like Eckler's, with its '80 Greenwood Daytona body, and ACI, with its "Stalker" wide-body kit for the C4, gave Vette owners the opportunity to individualize their cars well beyond the usual paint-and-stripes makeover.
Up until recently, however, no one produced a similarly comprehensive body kit for the C5. Sure, there were dozens of bolt-on hoods, wings and ground effects on the market, but nothing to rival the fantastical appearance packages of years past. Ironically, it took a German enthusiast to give America's sports car a truly radical makeover. The results are, in a word, extreme.
Axel Jasiek is the co-owner of Extreme Corvette-the Bradenton, Florida, company that designed the kit. The German-born Jasiek is no stranger to sports cars; he drove Porsches on the Autobahn for years and has more than a passing familiarity with European tuners such as Koenig and Brabus. These firms have long applied radical wide-body conversions-replete with bulging quarter panels and pumped-up fender lines-to Benzes, BMWs, and the like. Jasiek is also familiar with the Geiger Corvettes that were designed and executed on Corvettes imported into Europe.
Jasiek and his partner, Ralf Schmidt, teamed up after Jasiek made a visit to the States and drove a few Vettes. He shipped a '98 roadster back to Germany and set about to, in his words, "make a great car look a bit greater." He and Schmidt designed the wide body and collaborated with a fiberglass fabrication company in Germany to produce the molds. The kit was an eye-poppin' success in Europe, sending Jasiek back to the U.S. to introduce the Extreme Wide Body to American Corvette aficionados.
When Jasiek calls the Extreme kit a "wide body," he's not exaggerating. The stock C5 has an overall width of 72.6 inches. The Extreme Corvette measures out at a belt-bustin' 84 inches across the front fenders and 89 across the rear deck. Amazingly, it looks neither bulbous nor out of proportion. While we only had the opportunity to inspect and photograph an Extreme body fitted on an '01 roadster, we did see photos of several coupe conversions, and they're a bonafide knockout.
At first, it's easy to assume that there's significant Viper influence in the design. But, according to Jasiek, the real inspiration for the Extreme Wide Body was the C3 Corvette. To him, the flare of the Third-Gen Vette's front fenders, the pinch in the doors, and the bulge of the rear quarters were all open to a contemporary interpretation.
By pushing these dimensions outward on the C5 form, the Extreme Wide Body achieves a powerful flow. And since it's lower than the stock body, the extra width makes it look slammed, even though the suspension remains at the factory ride height. Bolt on 19-inch front and ultra-wide 20-inch rear wheels, and the Extreme Corvette looks capable of sucking the centerline clean off the pavement. Smaller wheels and tires can be used, but forget about using the stock rims-they'll literally disappear in the Wide Body's wheelwells.
There's nothing complicated about installing the Extreme Wide Body package. It utilizes the factory attaching points, with adequate "give" provided for varying factory tolerances. The package comprises a front fascia, fenders, door skins, quarters with rocker sills, a rear fascia, and inner wheel panels. The factory hood, convertible deck, and rear decklid are retained, but any aftermarket hood would look great on the Extreme Wide Body. The convertible's trunk space isn't compromised by the conversion, but you'll need to get used to climbing over the additional bulk at the rockers when getting in or out.
The Extreme Wide Body can also serve as the launching point for even wilder customizing. Murals, billet or carbon-fiber trim, and engine-compartment brightwork will all complement the package. In fact, the more radical you go, the better a Wide Body C5 will look. One thing's for sure: This conversion is not for the timorous. If owning a Corvette gets you noticed, then wning an Extreme Wide Body Corvette will guarantee you'll be a magnet for every car freak within a 10-mile radius.
So, what does all this attention cost? According to Jasiek, the Wide Body package starts at $11,000 and can be installed and prepped for paint for an additional $5,000. A set of 11x19 front and 13x20 rear wheels and tires will set you back an additional $5,500. The price for the paint job is between you and the painter.
While there are no plans to offer an Extreme Wide Body for the C6, a package for the C4 is in the works. The front fascia features exposed headlamps and a riser hood with a front-center air scoop. The rear backlight is recessed la the '68 Corvette, and the rear fascia is pure C5. With the wider fenders and quarter panels, the car is so muscular you'd be hard pressed to tell it started life as a C4.
So, will the Corvette community embrace this radical new approach to C5 restyling? Yeah, we think so. After all, the average Vette owner likes to make his ride distinctive and one-of-a-kind. If nothing else, an Extreme Wide Body conversion is sure to accomplish that.