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)
View Full Gallery

Although some panels use factory mounting points and standard body-shop techniques, keep in mind that this isn't a weekend bolt-on project. Aligning the panels can be a challenge, depending on the condition of the Corvette chassis used as the foundation. Given that caution, the basic build process is otherwise fairly straightforward, working from front to back.

Vemp_1004_04_o 1980_chevy_corvette_c3 Gtp_corvette_conversion 2/11

Once all the body components and seams are flowing together in smooth fashion, the panels are then prepped and painted in a conventional manner. In addition to a custom hue, some aftermarket wheels and dress-up items for the cockpit can further disguise the car's origins. It's not that there's anything wrong with driving a Corvette, but the whole point of a body conversion is to create a fresh new look on an old favorite.

Projex Motors
(661) 268-1883

Mongoose Motorsports Grand Sport And Imsa GTP
A tribute to racing Vettes past and present
What Vette enthusiast worth his salt hasn't wondered what it would be like to drive one of Duntov's ultra-rare Grand Sport racers? For those not familiar with the first Grand Sports, these experimental Sting Ray racers pounced on some unsuspecting Cobras at Nassau, Bahamas, in 1963 and 1964, and the Shelby team went home dragging its tail both times. Sadly, GM execs pulled the plug on the program, rather than building the 125 cars required by GT class regs.

Vemp_1004_05_o 1980_chevy_corvette_c3 Interior 3/11

Fortunately, replica firms have no such constraints, as demonstrated by Mongoose Motorsports' coupe, roadster, and new spec-racer Grand Sport models. Mongoose employs C4 suspension components with adjustable coilover shocks fitted to a stout 4-inch, round-tube frame made by Altair Engineering. Lest you feel challenged in building your own car, the company's product offerings are available in several levels of completion, including formidable turnkeys in both street and track trim.

Speaking of track duty, the spec racer features an SCCA-legal rollcage (made of 1 5/8-inch diameter, 0.120-wall tubing), along with a Lexan windshield. The 515hp LS3 crate motor is carbureted with a 770 Holley, but it does use an LSX Ignition Controller to run a coil-on-plug system with a 58X Reluctor Wheel.

Backing up this mill is a Lakewood blow-proof housing and a Tremec five-speed fitted with a Centerforce road-race clutch and a Fidanza aluminum flywheel. Included in the driveline are a pair of protective hoops (along with other competition safety gear), along with a 3.54-geared Dana 44 rearend. Overlaying the whole deal is a super-light fiberglass body (150 pounds total) with removable front and rear clips for easier pit-stop access. Race-ready rubber (Kumho V710 R compound) wraps over 18x10 CCW Classic rims (front 315/30R18s and rear 335/30R18s). The Mongoose spec racer, with both driver and fuel, tips the scales 2,550 pounds, putting it in the same weight class as a certain snake-skinned opponent.

Vemp_1004_06_o 1980_chevy_corvette_c3 C2_conversion_kit 4/11

Given these modernized tributes to the legendary Corvette comp cars, what other racers would make sense to emulate? The Mongoose wranglers looked back not quite so far, to 1986, for inspiration to put their own spin on the IMSA Corvette GTP (Grand Touring Prototype). The seven original GTP cars attained enough racing success to elevate them to lofty collector heights.

The GTP body came originally from Hendrick Motorsports, but several teams campaigned cars in the IMSA ranks, so there were likely several sets of molds for the car, if for no other reason than to make spare Kevlar body parts.

The shape of the car is aggressively styled for the track, but Mongoose wisely decided that it needed some street amenities as well to appeal to a broader market. That's not to suggest that the car is just a looker, as the 505hp LS7 in this particular example is more than capable of backing up the car's racy looks with track-ready performance.


Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print