Messing with the Corvette is like defusing a bomb. Do it right, and they'll pin a medal on your chest. Do it wrong, and, well, it all blows up in your face. So it was with more than a little trepidation that Jeff Nowicki and his Troy, Michigan-based Specter Werkes/Sports decided to create a distinctive version of the C6-something for an exclusive group of customers whose combination of desire and means affords more than a basic exhaust-and-spoiler package.
But if there's one thing Nowicki didn't want to do, it was disrespect the C6.
"The Corvette has a very purposeful design and cues that have carried over through decades of evolution," he says. "We thought there was an opportunity to create a car with greater visual 'reach,' but didn't stray far from the intrinsic qualities that make the car a Corvette."
It is territory Nowicki has visited in the past. A decade ago he launched a C5-based GTR. About 30 were built, including one each for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. They were almost too respectful of the Corvette's design, with fractionally widened bodywork that required a GTR be parked next to a stock C5 in order to appreciate the difference.
There's no mistaking the C6 GTR for something that slipped out of Bowling Green. The wide-body theme of the C5 GTR carries over, but with a considerably more aggressive, racing-inspired execution. Indeed, the GTR looks like it's ready for 12 hours at Sebring, or maybe even a full 24 at Daytona.
"Our clientele told us that's what they wanted," says Nowicki. "They wanted a car that stood out from the rest, but was also tasteful and recognizable as a Corvette. I think that's exactly what we achieved."
Only the roof panel and rear hatch are left untouched from the original Corvette. Everything else-the front and rear fascias, rear quarter panels, rockers, front fenders, and hood-are replaced with Specter-designed-and-manufactured panels. We previewed them in our September issue, showing the design and prototype process, which involved slathering the first production model (the car seen on these pages and commissioned by Colorado Chevy dealer Rollie Purifoy) in clay and painstakingly carving it into the final form. Molds were taken of the clay, and the panels were formed with them.
"We shaped the passenger side by hand, and that took months before we were satisfied with the final dimensions and details," says Nowicki. "Then, we scanned the car, turned it around on our surface plate, and let a computer-guided milling machine carve a mirror image. That took more than a week itself."
The flow and cohesiveness of the GTR's design is apparent from all angles. The front fascia and extractor-style hood combine to deliver the greatest visual impression, while the body sides and rear fascia convey a broad-shouldered stance. Indeed, the rear fenders are half an inch wider per side than the Z06, making the GTR an inch wider overall and 4.5 inches wider overall than a "base" Corvette.
The rear fascia is accented by carbon-fiber trim; a large, LED-lit center brake lamp (from the Cadillac CTS); revised taillamp lenses; and a Corsa stainless steel exhaust with Specter's own outlets. Oh, and did we mention the carbon-fiber headlamp bezels, mirror covers, and splitter? The list of unique parts is comprehensive, to say the least.