Chevy Corvette Conversions - Body Language

The Right Body Conversion Can Give Your Corvette A Whole New Look-And Attitude

Steve Temple Jan 22, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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Mongoose describes its GTP chassis as a semi-monocoque utilizing composite and chrome-moly steel-tube materials. The first chassis featured an aluminum boxed front-end section and a tubular rear, but subsequent cars have featured a carbon fiber front end. A full rollcage is also incorporated.

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The chassis employs C5 suspension components with Bilstein shocks modified in-house to a coilover setup. Mongoose uses a Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion steering system (or an electric power system) and C5 disc brakes at all four corners. This prototype was outfitted with 18-inch CCW billet aluminum wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot rubber (295/30 fronts on 10-inch-wide rims and 335/30 rears on 12-inchers).

The LS7 engine is, of course, the same 427ci mill used in the Corvette Z06. The all-aluminum engine develops 470 lb-ft of torque-more than enough output for the 2,500-pound GTP, which is 600 to 700 pounds lighter than the production Z.

Mongoose built its own custom stainless headers for the small-block and routed them through turbo spiral mufflers before exiting through the back of the bodywork. About the only modification to the crate engine was to the cooling system, where a pair of Griffin aluminum radiators keep things cool. They're mounted inside the deep sidescoops, ahead of the rear wheels, and both are fitted with electric fans. The prototype also benefits from an aftermarket Vintage Air A/C system, with the condenser mounted on the rear bracket of the big carbon-fiber wing.

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Mongoose called on RPM Transmission to develop a massaged 4L60E automatic coupled to a C5 transaxle, but minus the torque tube used in the Corvette. The engine is directly coupled to the transaxle assembly with a Camaro bellhousing sandwiched in between. Controlling the trans is a B&M ratchet-shifter cable system. Mongoose even provides the transaxle setup with the component version of the GTP (or offers a credit if some other system is to be used).

Though the GTP is essentially a race car, Mongoose had added some concessions to comfort in the cockpit, including the aforementioned A/C system, carpeting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a pair of upholstered bucket seats. The company also offers a carbon-fiber dash and glass windows instead of acrylic. And since the original Corvette GTP didn't have a rear window, Mongoose added one, so you can see all the competition you've left in the dust.

Mongoose Motorsports
(330) 920-1466

Ruth Engineering & Racing Cheetah
One ferocious feline
While Duntov's Grand Sport is generally thought of as the Cobra killer, there was another: the Cheetah. Developed by Corvette racer Bill Thomas and designed by Don Edmunds in the early '60s, it featured a modified Corvette 327 (377 ci) in a chassis that weighed less than 1,700 pounds. But it was handful on a road course, due to this extreme power-to-weight ratio, a lack of frame triangulation, and short wheelbase. So short, in fact, that the transmission output was bolted directly to the Corvette IRS with only a U-joint in between, and no driveshaft. Once the Cheetah settled into a straight, though, nothing could touch it.

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Though plagued with a hot cockpit, due to the proximity of the exhaust, and covered with flimsy fiberglass bodywork (except for a couple aluminum bodies early on), the Cheetah broke all sorts of track records, and by the end of the 1964 season, it had won 11 races in C-Sport/Modified. Only 11 Cheetahs were built before a shop fire in September 1965 stopped production, and only eight survive today.

Since that time many replicas of the Cheetah have been built, with varying degrees of quality and accuracy. Corvette restorer Ruth Engineering & Racing drew on its extensive background to improve on the original design without "throwing the baby out with the bathwater."


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