When you name a car the A-Bomb Project, it's got to pack more than the punch of its C6 Atomic Orange paintjob--and that's just what Joe Henderson's '67 roadster delivers, with a 50-megaton load of performance, style, and asphalt-eating attitude. And while there's no plutonium at the core of this custom Corvette's powerplant, there is a 700-horsepower Kinsler-injected and Katech-engineered LS engine that helps get it up to speed faster than you can say "duck and cover."
In fact, the engine in Henderson's '67 stunner has already been the focus of a technical story in the Sept. '09 issue of VETTE. It's taken that long for the rest of this Manhattan Project to come together--not in the arid desolation of New Mexico of the original atom bomb, but the gorgeous, mountainous terrain of Asheville, North Carolina. That's the home of The Winning Collection (TWC), the restoration and car-building shop run by former road-racer Tom Coleman (www.winningcollection.com).
It's no exaggeration to say every square inch of fiberglass, steel, aluminum, and leather that comprises this jaw-dropping restomod has been modified, massaged, or enhanced. There's hardly room on the few pages we have here to call out every last detail, but we'll do our best to hit the highlights, starting with the foundation. It's a Jamison tube-frame C4 chassis that TWC upgraded with gussets and plating to increase its rigidity and provide greater strength for the 700-horse engine.
The chassis is glossy black, which contrasts well with the Atomic Orange body color and the aluminum finish of many of the chassis and suspension parts. It also features a custom Fuel Safe stainless-steel fuel tank that was built to the original C3 chassis specifications on the outside, but features a racing-spec fuel bladder on the inside. An Atomic Orange rollbar is tied to the chassis, too.
At the front suspension, Heim joints are used in place of conventional tie-rod ends for strength and adjustability, while a thick, road racing–inspired stabilizer bar helps flatten out cornering performance. The rear suspension is also adjustable, and there are QA1 coilovers all around. Stopping power comes from a set of Wilwood brakes, featuring six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, along with 335mm x 32mm two-piece slotted and cross-drilled rotors and stainless-steel lines for the entire system.
Connecting the racing-inspired chassis and suspension systems to Ground Zero is a set of HRE 840R wheels, measuring 12 inches wide in the rear and a full 10 inches wide up front. They're wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 335/30ZR18 rubber for the rear rims and 275/35ZR18 Pilot Sports for the front. Such bunker-busting tread width required the rear fenders to be flared 6 inches and the fronts pulled out 2 inches. And talk about an atom-splitting level of detail: The wheels have a satin-black powdercoated finish that is accented on the lip with an Atomic Orange stripe.
With its road-race stance and custom, racing- bred chassis, it would be logical to assume this Corvette's bodywork is all-new, too, but TWC started with an original '67 Corvette body shell and spent 3,000 hours redesigning it. We're not sure what The Winning Collection's hourly labor rate is, but the bill for the bodywork alone must have been enough to send car owner Joe Henderson searching for the nearest fallout shelter. Then again, the level of detail and craftsmanship is among the greatest we've encountered, with most of the alterations representing subtle-yet-effective enhancements of the classic body shape.
Features such as the late-model Corvette door handles and deep front spoiler are among the most prominent changes, but the manner in which the body lines flow with the flared fenders is sublime. Even the Atomic Orange paint was tweaked a bit to reveal a greenish sheen in certain lighting conditions. In fact, the paintjob was good enough to garner the PPG Dream Car Award for best use of color at last fall's Goodguys Southeast Nationals, in Charlotte, North Carolina--just one of several awards the car received there, including a builder's choice recognition as one of the show's 10 best cars.