Car Warriors Corvettes - War Vettes

An exclusive, inside look at SPEED's Car Warriors

Meggan Bailey Jul 1, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Lights, Camera, Action!
The Corvette builds started out with a test to determine which team could remove its car's engine first. The winning team would be given the chance to pick which new engine would power its build.

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As quickly as the challenge started, the All-Stars had removed their Vette's motor and won. Without hesitation, they picked a Hawaii Racing–built, tunnel-rammed 383 with 483 hp over the milder, 425hp version.

A mad race to the parts cage then ensued, with each team grabbing whatever parts it wanted. Zip Corvette's array of fiberglass body panels and a set of Hooker side pipes were the first things to be grabbed. A gentleman's discussion ensued over the wheels, as each team grabbed a portion of a matched set of 20-inch Helos. But as it soon became clear, there was much more planned than the addition of simple bolt-on parts.

As the hours proceeded, the cars began to take on lives of their own. Neither Corvette was looking anything like a standard restoration. Rather, both were becoming completely custom rides. Two-part foam was used by the gallons on the All-Stars' side, to give America's Sports Car a wild stance and an all-new front-end appearance.

The challenging team, Gearhead Garage, opted for a unique approach by removing the rear tail panel of its car to give it a more "vintage" line. Additionally, the team decided to use the previously removed taillight buckets as headlight housings.

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"Originally, we planned to change the factory-style headlights out for a more modern setup, then incorporate clear Plexiglas covers similar to the new ZR1," said Mike Sparman. "As the project took on a life of its own, we realized that 72 hours was not a lot of time! After considering a GT-40–style light setup, Jason and I came up with the idea to fab the rear taillights and bumper into the front fascia—no small task." It took a bit of fit and finish, and to a non-Corvette enthusiast, the subtle touch could easily be overlooked.

The All-Stars went a different route with a totally custom front end, with the result—essentially an elongated cylinder with four light holes in it—resembling an oversized phone dial or a missile launcher.

Because of the Corvette's leaf-spring rear suspension, no one truly believed that either of the builders would opt to use the available Universal Air Suspension air-ride system. But the All-Stars did, removing a few of the leaves and "bagging" their C3.

"Ian and I had never seen [airbags] done before, and figured that there had to be a way to do it," said Joel Hoffman. "So we came up with the idea to just start taking the suspension apart and using trial and error. After the first go around, we had to make some plates to hold the rear airbags in place. Up front, as is the case with A-arm suspension, we had to cut the pockets a little bigger to hold the airbags correctly."

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As the cars entered the paint phase, it was anyone's guess what schemes would be utilized. Ryno, the All-Stars' painter, opted to attack the finish in a very flamboyant fashion, using House of Kolors silver to paint tribal-style patterns across the black-cherry exterior. If the points had been tallied at this point, it seemed, the All-Stars had taken the lead.

The Challengers' paint theme went along with the team's previously mentioned styling cues. They used a simple red, gray, and black color scheme, along with their version of a painted "stinger."

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