Best of Both Worlds: Neo-Split-Window Corvette from Karl’s Kustom

Usually, attempts to update an older chassis with newer body lines or back-date modern mechanicals to a classic shape end in cars that are beautiful only to the people that built them. Though they might have the same styling cues and bear a resemblance from a distance, it’s very hard to get the wheelbase, roof height, angles, and proportions to line up the way they’re supposed to.

But the Karl Kustom Corvette is different. The designers of this C2-inspired car managed to get the proportions right, giving the Corvette fan mid-year style with all the amenities and safety of a modern Corvette. Or, in their words, they made the best even better. 

A Timeless Classic

Take a poll of what is everyone’s favorite Corvette and chances are the C2 is on the top of the list. But within such a great generation, which one is best? It would be no surprise to find the 1967 at the top. Nineteen sixty-seven was the year the 427 was given tri-carburetion in both 400- and 435-horsepower variants. It was also the first year for L89 aluminum heads for the L71, of which only 16 were built. Then there was the L88, a racing engine in street duds that was quivering to be uncorked for all its 560 horses. All 427 motors came with the new Stinger hood with several contrasting colors.

However, the base Corvette was no wallflower, as the 327/300 was a good 50 horses more than what it had just two years before. And if the thought of a Corvette having more than 10 pounds per horsepower sounded disappointing to the small block enthusiast, the L79 350-horse motor was a rev-happy option. Yep, 1967 was a great year!

The first Karl Kustom Corvette was like this '67 roadster.

But then how could you overlook the classic Split-Window ’63? Isn’t that one the iconic mid-year Corvette? There aren’t many coupes of any brand that are more desirable than their topless brethren, but the 1963 Corvette is one of the few. As the first of the Sting Rays, it debuted a new chassis that introduced an independent rear suspension for improved ride and handling. Engines were basically carry-over from 1962, but a new racing option was big news: the Z06 included the fuel-injected 327/360, 20% larger diameter front antiroll bar, Posi-traction, a vacuum brake booster, dual master cylinder, finned aluminum drum brakes, and larger and stiffer springs and shocks. Initially only available on the coupe and requiring the 36-gallon fuel tank, the package was later made available on the roadster and without the big tank being mandatory (it was unavailable on the roadster).

An Homage, Not a Copy

Both of these Corvettes were the inspiration for Karl Kustom Corvette’s (KKC) Split-Window coupe and ’67 roadster. Working in partnership with Karl Chevrolet in Ankeny, Iowa (Iowa’s #1 dealer in Corvette sales, if you aren’t in-the-know), KKC produced their first neo-C2 in 2008, a 1967 roadster. Combining the iconic cues of the 1963-67 Corvette with the engineering and technology of today’s C6, KKC found a way to give Corvette fans the best of both worlds. KKC followed up with a ’63 coupe, creating bookends of the generation.

C2 headlights rotate, but the Karl Kustom Corvette's lights pop up and house modern fixtures.

When you order your Kustom Corvette, it sheds its skin and a new body is assembled using fiberglass panels with vinyl ester resins finished in urethane substrates; the factory-built C6 door frames, hinges, latches, and seals are retained. The panels are reattached at factory points using modern epoxies and factory-equivalent fasteners. The drivetrain and mechanicals remain intact and retain the factory GM powertrain warranty. Bumpers are constructed in steel and are finished in triple chrome plating. Hood inlays (for the ’63) and grille are hand-fabricated using aircraft-quality billet T6-6061 aluminum.

You'll find all the details of a '63 on the Karl Kustom Corvette. You have many choices for exhaust.

Better yet, Karl Kustom Corvettes’ body panel mold process allows them to build the C2 of your choice. Perhaps the side vents of the 1965-66 Corvette are more attractive to you, and you’re more willing to forgo the split window of the ’63 – KKC will accommodate. You can specify a number of exhausts options, headlight options, wheel and tire options, interior options, and brake options.

You can keep the basic interior (left) or custom-order it to mimic the interior of a '63.

Here’s how the ordering process works:

  1. Pick the heart of your Corvette – build your Karl Kustom Corvette on the base C6, the Grand Sport, or Z06.
  2. Choose interior options – stay stock, or go retro-inspired. You can even go custom with two-tone with exotic leathers.
  3. Select exterior color – do you want to go with a modern Corvette color? Would vintage be more appropriate? Or considering this is a custom-built car, why not create your own color?
  4. Select finishing details – choose your wheel and tire combination, your exhaust, and more.

    Befitting a bespoke vehicle, a myriad of wheel options are available.

Bite to Match the Bark

But it gets better. Befitting of a bespoke vehicle, the Karl Kustom Corvettes can build you an LZ067 Lingenfelter ’67 coupe with a 660-horse 427 LS7. This motor features:

  • Lingenfelter CNC ported LS7 cylinder heads
  • Lingenfelter multi-angle valve job and surfacing for a 11.5 compression ratio
  • Lingenfelter Z06 GT21 camshaft by Comp Cams
  • Lingenfelter high-flow C6 Z06 air induction and 4-inch (diameter) Lingenfelter mass air sensor
  • Port-matched LS7 intake manifold
  • American Racing stainless tube headers
  • Lingenfelter 3-year/36,000-mile warranty 

An option is the Edelbrock E-Force supercharger kit with an Eaton Gen VI 2300 TVS® Supercharger rotating assembly, which features a four lobe design with 160° of twist.

You can also build a “regular” Lingenfelter-powered KKC 1963-67 coupe or roadster with a choice of four motors:

  • Magnuson TVS2300 Supercharged with 750 horses
  • Lingenfelter 427 LS3 stroker with 570 horses
  • Supercharged 378 CID LS9 with 750 horses
  • Twin-turbo 427 LS7 with 800 horses

In profile, the KKC coupe shows its C6 roots in the angle of the windshield and the shape of the doors and side windows.

As you can see, this is a serious machine that, even in standard form, outperforms any 1963-67 Corvette in any category. Considering the recently unveiled C7 isn’t going to be the split-window throwback that was suggested three years ago, perhaps a coupe from Karl Custom Corvettes will make up for it?


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About the author

Diego Rosenberg

Diego is an automotive historian with experience working in Detroit as well as the classic car hobby. He is a published automotive writer in print and online and has a network of like-minded aficionados to depend on for information that's not in the public domain.
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