"That's when the mods really starting getting crazy," Layne says. "I was in my shop, and Mike came to me with an insane idea. He said that if Chevrolet didn't make a C6 Z convertible, he was going to make one-or, rather, I was going to make one for him. To make things even more difficult, he said that I could only use GM parts. Starting with the stock parts on the convertible, I removed the rear bumper and the quarter-panels, then cut off the tops of the Z's quarter-panels, molded in and smoothed the lowers, applied primer, and then reinstalled them."
Sound like a great idea?
It sure seemed to be, until Layne looked at the Vette's new body lines and came to the conclusion that the Z06's rear fenders stuck out much farther than the base Corvette fronts. It gave the Vette a mismatched look.
"You may as well install Z06 front fenders, too," Layne recalls Burton saying. Before long, the convertible's front fenders were ditched, too, and carbon-fiber Z fenders had taken their place, followed by some subtler, owner-requested mods, including filling in the "Corvette" logo on the rear fascia and shaving the door handles.
Prep and paint followed. Layne applied the Velocity Yellow basecoat, followed by more airbrushing. "Mike liked the flames on the hood so much that he wanted to put some more on the rest of the car-some coming out of the vents in the fenders and more coming out the back across the trunk. He asked for other custom brushwork, too-the flag on the front bumper and a bigger flag on the rear bumper are the two most noticeable examples," Layne says.
With both men pleased with the look of the graphics, Layne applied three coats of clear, followed by block-sanding, buffing, and polishing. The result is eye candy of the highest magnitude-an aggressively sensual show car that the factory could never have produced on the production line.
Afterwards, the engine compartment was treated to the same motif. Velocity Yellow and flames were painted on the engine covers, the air ducts, and elsewhere throughout the bay. Chrome was added wherever possible to complement the look. Other appearance mods include an aluminum upper-radiator support and a custom stainless-steel panel (adorned in flames, of course) for three fans that are lighted by LED.
For the cabin, Layne continued the theme by adding Velocity Yellow wherever possible, airbrushing flags on the door panels, and applying flames to the center console and gauge faces. Other than leather trim furnished by Down South Vettes in Brownsville, Texas, the interior still retains its stock components. "The theme is really in-your-face. That's what I like about it," Burton says.
Finished? "Not yet," Burton says. "There were still more mods to go." After fitting the Vette with Z06 wheels and fatter rubber, Layne turned his talents to a complete customization of the hatch area and the installation of a show-quality sound system. "I started in the trunk by moving the battery to the rear and added another battery, both of which are housed in a custom-built aluminum battery tray. I installed a piece of 1/4-inch plastic panel over the carpet in the rear, which I painted yellow. I built speaker boxes out of aluminum and polished them, followed by an amp rack elevated off the plastic panel, under which I installed LED lights. Like elsewhere throughout the car, Velocity Yellow, flames, and flags were used to define the look," Layne said.
For most Corvette owners, it would have been time to stop, admire the work, take in some car shows, and collect the trophies, but Burton's mission may never be over. "I'm going to continue my mods in perpetuity because of the all the positive feedback I receive from other Corvette owners. They can appreciate the modifications that have been made and recognize when new mods have been added to the car. Every year I try to add to the theme of the car...and it's not done yet!"
The question remains: will Burton ever stop modifying his Corvette?
"It's doubtful," he says. "Since the photography for VETTE, I've purchased 'Lambo' doors and an underbody light kit. I also plan to cut the hood and install a clear Lexan window, like the ZR1, so that you can see the engine when the hood is closed. At this rate, I don't think the mods will ever stop. This is a work in progress and I'll continue to add things to make this a one-of-a-kind Corvette...even if it takes forever."