1998 Chevrolet Corvette - Multiple Personalities

Chattanooga Rod Design's Classic 1 Blends Modern Performance With '60s Style

James Berry Nov 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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It didn't take long for McDowell to realize that not a single part of a C2 body would fit on the C5. The newer car's front end is shorter and its doors longer compared with the vintage model. This is all well and good for weight transfer, handling, and everyday use, but it rendered McDowell's original concept untenable. And so a decision was made: Rather than an exact replica, the car would be a reinterpretation of the classic C2 built on a modern platform. After all, the same approach has been used successfully on the new Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger. Why not bring the Corvette into the mix? With a new direction to pursue, McDowell dubbed the project "Classic 1" and forged ahead.

In keeping with this retro-modern approach, McDowell chose to swap the C5 door handles and mirrors for vintage-appearing chrome replacements. Stock C2 wheels and tires were deemed disproportionately small on the bigger C5 body, so McDowell went with a more contemporary combination. In fact, the front tires on the Classic 1 are bigger than the rear combo on a stock C5, measuring 275/40-18. The rears, meanwhile, spec out at a positively gargantuan 345/35-19. The sheer width of the rolling stock makes the car look and handle like a Le Mans racer, while the modern rubber limits both impact harshness and road noise. Add to this the sound-deadening materials used in the conversion and the result is one comfortable ride for long trips or around-town jaunts.

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After some 4,500 hours of fabrication and parts fitting, McDowell's Classic 1 was finally complete. The car became an instant hit, scoring an appearance on Horsepower TV and even showing up at the premiere of the film Speed Racer. McDowell has since established a company-Chattanooga Rod Design-to build production units for customers. He's currently in the process of designing a trio of new conversions using other vehicle platforms. (Sorry, but we've been sworn to secrecy until the unveiling.)

Unfortunately for do-it-yourselfers, the Classic 1 conversion will not be offered in kit form. These are, after all, heavily customized creations requiring hours of painstaking fabrication work. But don't despair: if the Classic 1 approach of blending '60s style with modern comfort and performance seems like your thing, McDowell will be happy to convert a convertible, coupe, or FRC to your specifications. (Note that a hardtop can't currently be modified into a convertible, or vice versa.) All you'll need to supply is a donor C5 and sufficient funds to underwrite the operation.


Chattanooga Rod Design
(423) 883-9151




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