WHAT IS A CUSTOM CORVETTE?
What’s better than owning a sleek, stylish, and powerful Chevrolet Corvette? Owning a sleek, stylish, and powerful CUSTOM Corvette. Corvette lovers around the world know exactly what I am talking about. If you can take your pride and joy, your very own Corvette, and truly make it your own, there is no feeling better.
Because of the appeal of the custom Corvette, many experienced designers and innovators have launched their own customizing options over the years. Too many people without the proper know-how, have taken their Corvette home to proudly customize the beautiful machine, only to make tragic mistakes. Professionals with the resources, the drive, and the know how, began making successful customizations available to the public. Let’s get into the details of some of our favorite custom options today!
MACO CUSTOM CORVETTE
HISTORY OF THE MACO
One of the most widely known and immensely popular custom Corvette options, is the Maco, inspired by the Mako Shark Concept Car. The Maco came to be one of the sleekest and meanest looking Corvettes you will ever have the fortune of laying eyes on.
Designer of the concept car, Bill Mitchell, was inspired to bring this Corvette to life after a fateful fishing trip. Mitchell caught a real shortfin Mako Shark that day and was awestruck by its stunning appearance. Taking his catch home for inspiration, he had the shark mounted and hung in his office. Rumor has it, that while the design team was trying and failing to simulate the true Mako Shark color, they eventually sharknapped the mounted catch, and painted it to match the car. As the story goes, the next time Bill went to approve or reject the team’s paint job, he said it was perfect.
Some of the most notable aesthetic features of the Maco Custom Corvette are the sharp nose, the sleek lines, and the classic ombre paint job flowing from deep sea blue to a silver underneath. All of these aesthetics were finely curated to emulate the mako shortfin shark that Mitchell proudly hung in his office.
MAKERS OF CUSTOM MACO KITS
Because the original Mako Shark design was only a concept car, never to be driven by Corvette enthusiasts around the world, those who had the passion, the resources, and the drive, began to design custom Maco kits. Some of the most successful customizers from the start include Joel Rosen of Motion Performance, John Silva, and Bohannon Concepts. Having started in 1974, Bohannon is still selling Maco Shark body kits today, but John Silva and Joel Rosen remain the front runners in original Maco Shark kit creations
WAGON CUSTOM CORVETTE
HISTORY OF THE WAGON CUSTOM CORVETTE
The history of and inspiration for the wagon custom Corvette stands alone. In early 1971, a man named Chuck Miller was approached by Uriel Jones, a professional drummer in a motown band.
Jones boldy commissioned Miller to make his 1968 Corvette, drum-set-friendly. Jones had a beautiful Corvette that he cherished, but when he had to travel for gigs, he had to reluctantly leave his ride at home because his drum set did not fit. Chuck Miller set off to creating the first Sportwagon.
To begin the endeavor, Miller requested the assistance of Harry Bentley Bradley, a Pratt Institute-educated industrial designer, to create a realistic plan to attempt the radical conversion. Bradley had worked at GM for four years, from 1962 to 1966. Together, they set to creating the first custom Corvette wagon. After the first wagon was completed and passed on to Jones, Miller set to building the second. For assistance with the coupe conversion he intended to do, he turned to Ralph Eckler who had the equipment necessary for the task.
Eckler was excited about this new Corvette conversion, as he had already been in the business of radical Corvette custom kits. Miller and Eckler struck a deal. Eckler would produce the parts for Miller for one year, and then after the year was up, he could put the kit in his catalog for sale. To this day, Eckler is the top name for obtaining many custom Corvette kits.
In 1976, a man named John Greenwood thought he could redesign and ultimately improve the custom wagon Corvette. He set to work and the redesign was a success. The improvements spanned from functionality to overall appearance. In addition, the Greenwood redesign was better suited to fit the new rubber bumper Corvettes.
FEATURES OF THE WAGON CORVETTE
The custom wagon Corvette has got to be one of the most unique modifications. You can’t mistake or miss this one of a kind makeover cruising down the boulevard. There is nothing like it.
Kits for the wagon conversion often include the wagon section, a floor extension, Plexiglas windows and stainless-steel window trim. The fuel tank often has to be sourced by the builder to replace the Corvette factory tank. To add the length to the Corvette to accommodate the wagon rear, the tank has to be lowered. Miller often recommended using a Mustang gas tank for wagon conversions fitted with side pipes. Owners who chose to under-car exhaust had to use a narrower tank. The fill for the tank would be located behind the license plate.
MAKERS OF CORVETTE WAGON KITS TODAY
We couldn’t find anyone who currently manufactures corvette wagon kits at this time. If you know of any, please get in touch!
Check out the current 1974 black Corvette Stingray Hot Rod we have on our sales floor.
YENKO CUSTOM CORVETTE
HISTORY OF THE YENKO CUSTOM CORVETTE
The Yenko custom Corvette, was born out of Yenko Chevrolet, a Chevrolet dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. This dealership was in operation from 1949 to 1982. Yenko Chevrolet is best remembered for selling customized muscle cars in the 1960s. The first successful Yenko Chevrolet dealership was opened in 1932, located in another Pennsylvania town. It was at this second location that Don Yenko, son of original founder Frank Yenko, took the wheel and made history.
Don Yenko, after returning from the Air Force and receiving his BA degree from Penn State, he returned home and set up a Chevrolet performance shop. In addition, to feed his need for speed, he regularly raced Corvettes.
FEATURES OF THE YENKO CORVETTE
Yenko custom cars are some of the rarest, and therefore most sought after, muscle cars. Because of this, should you be fortunate enough to find one, the price tag will match the demand and quality. For example, in 2019 we will see released, only 25 1,000 hp Yenko Corvettes, available for order at your local GM dealer.
As for classics, Yenko did not convert many Corvettes. His primary passion was customizing Corvair coupes, Camaros, Novas and Chevelles. Corvettes played involvement, however, in the Yenko Camaro conversion. Yenko was known to replace the the original L-78 396 in³ (6.5 L) engine with a Chevrolet Corvette’s L-72 427 in³ (7.0 L).
It’s not easy to find a vintage Yenko custom Corvette. But it can be done. (( Hint: See Below! ))
BALDWIN MOTION CUSTOM CORVETTE
HISTORY OF THE BALDWIN MOTION CUSTOM CORVETTE
Baldwin Motion was born out of the genius and big ideas of Joel Rosen, and the resources of Baldwin Chevrolet. Before combining their powers, Joel Rosen owned a humble auto shop that grew into a well known one-stop shop for performance cars, Motion Performance. Working on these powerful and pristine machines in his shop, Rosen developed a plethora of ideas to turn basic production cars into supercars. He dreamed of turning these ideas into a reality, but he needed a connection who had resources.
Enter-Baldwin. Rosen formed a partnership with Ed Simonin, the general manager at Baldwin, the family run Chevrolet dealership. Prior to working with Rosen, Baldwin had no history in the high-performance car business.
With Rosen’s radical plans and Baldwin’s fleet of cars, together they began offering the option of professionally customized, “day two” Corvettes. Any one with big dreams and the cash flow could place an order for a street-legal, turn-key drag car. The car would be purchased at Baldwin, then delivered to Rosen’s Motion Performance shop for the customized upgrades.
FEATURES OF THE BALDWIN MOTION
Among the most valuable of the Baldwin Motion Customs, is the Phase III Corvette. Some of the features you will find on a Phase III Corvette might include unique exterior trim, including Motion badging, custom fiberglass body treatments like stinger hoods and unique paint jobs. Mechanically, you might find a wide array of high-performance engines, transmissions, and chassis. You may also find Holley three-barrel carburetors, aluminum high-rise intakes, Sun Super Tachometers and gauge sets, Phase II CD ignitions, scooped hoods, and the list goes on. No matter what you find, you can be sure it will be powerful, sleek, and stunning.
Because Motion felt so confident about his custom masterpieces, he offered the now famous Motion Performance guarantee.
“We think so much of our Phase III Supercars that we guarantee they will turn at least 120 mph in 11.50 seconds or better with a [Motion Performance-approved] driver on an AHRA or NHRA-sanctioned drag strip.”
Rosen claims to have never had a claim on that guarantee.
While we currently do not have any Baldwin Motion’s for sale, we invite you to have a peek at our 1970 Baldwin Motion in our private collection.
WIDEBODY CUSTOM CORVETTE
HISTORY OF THE WIDEBODY CUSTOM CORVETTE
Remembered as Zora Duntov’s last racer kit before his retirement, the widebody kit would be a fine way to make his exit. Duntov and his crew called this kit a “Silhouette Racer” because all though visually, the design was comparable to a standard Corvette, but internally, the widebody was a race car through and through. The widebody, also known as slab-side, was built with specific intention to improve aerodynamics and meet racing regulations. Other aspects of the design also reduced lift, added extra down-force, and improved ventilation.
It was 1974 at the Detroit Auto Show when the public first laid their eyes on the widebody Chevrolet Corvette. Build specifically for the SCCA and IMSA road racing competitions, it was altered in such a way to optimize the true Corvette potential. In it’s racing debut at Road Atlanta, Corvette took the win over Bobby Allison’s big-block Camaro.
Famed race car driver, and Corvette enthusiast, John Greenwood raced a wide-body Corvette in the famous and grueling race, the 24 Hours of LeMans. After being jazzed up with Greenwood’s patriotic adornments, the widebody Corvette quickly earned the nickname of the “batmobile”.
While he unfortunately did not finish due to a fuel cell malfunction, the car was reported to have reached 240 mpg with over 700 horsepower. The wide-body Corvette has been regarded by many as the “fastest Corvette in the world.” This may be why they have maintained popularity, because rare is the Corvette enthusiast who isn’t interested in speed.
MAKERS OF WIDEBODY KITS
Any Corvette owner can easily purchase a wide body Corvette conversion kit for an average of $3,000 to $4,000.
Greenwood Corvettes also continues to manufacture and provide quality kits to the masses.
Customization is a unique and exciting way to put your stamp on your Corvette. It goes without saying, any Corvette is already a fine piece of machinery, straight out of the factory. But if you want to take your Corvette to the next level, explore your custom options. We only discussed a few here today. Some have been around for many years, and some are newer to the game, but all are a fun way to upgrade your Corvette.
Do you have a custom Corvette at home? We would love to hear about it in the comments!