The ASAP C5 Corvette

Real Buck Rogers, 21st Century Stuff

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This isn't Art Richards' first rodeo, but it's his first new rodeo. He took time out from Art's Corvettes to raise a family. During that hiatus, Art says, "We went go-kart racing and RC racing."

He's back and bigger than ever if his plans go, well, as planned.

"We used to sit around the campfire and talk about what we can do, what we could invent. We said, 'Nothing if it ain't big.'"

Art teamed up with Louis Zember to form ASAP. The bottom of their business card reads "American Supercars and Prototypes, LLC."

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We ran across Art's crew in November of 2004 at SEMA, the huge annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their display car was obviously a Corvette by the badges, but obviously far from stock with its cantilevered doors lifted high in the air and a body like no Vette we had ever seen.

Of the rolling sculpture, Art explained, "The only thing left Corvette is the inner structure of the doors and the cleavage in the hood."

Really drawing attention was the large PC screen flashing in the middle of the dash, just above the console. Plus, another screen, in front of the passenger, broadcast images for rear vision. Basically, tiny cameras took the place of side view mirrors. The car was attracting a great deal of attention. We wanted to get the scoop. After some deliberation, the crew agreed to drive the car on the desert after the show was over so we could take pictures in the real world, outside of the glitz.

Art's Corvette career began, he explains, in 1967, "When I got out of Vietnam."

He'd been fooling with Vettes back home in Indiana. He recalled a trip driving a '69, an L71 427 tri-power with L89 aluminum heads and a four-speed.

"I was pulling a '63 split-window," he says. "In Missouri, what started my career was, we slid off the road on an on-ramp. The wrecker guy came out and said, 'Man, that's the first time I've seen two Corvettes hit each other.'

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