Thousands of car enthusiasts helped celebrate the Detroit Autorama’s 65th anniversary in early March and by all accounts it was an extremely successful event. With the coveted Ridler award up for grabs, the two floors of the Cobo Center were lined with incredible cars from both garage builders and shops all over North America.
Not a Corvette centered show by any means, the Detroit Autorama still provided plenty to see for the Corvette enthusiast and we captured four stellar examples to take a closer look at today.
Painted in a regal purple and sitting on dark bronze Hot Rods By Boyd wheels Robert “Bob” Chiusano’s Corvette Split Second called to us from a distance to come in for a closer look.
Split Second was a long term build by Iowa’s Eddie’s Rod And Custom and 2017 is the debut year for this highly modified C2.
Showing up to the shop as a factory black car Eddie’s Rod and Custom gave the vehicle a once over and deemed it a solid base for a no expense spared pro touring project.
Sitting on an Art Morrison chassis this build eschews the common LS swap and has a beautiful 327 small block under hood. The potent small block is dressed up with polished front drive accessories, painted finned valve covers and an incredibly eye catching cross ram fuel injection set up.
Currently doing the show circuit for a few months, the guys at Eddie’s assured us that once the owner takes delivery of Split Second he will be putting many miles on it, likely with a huge grin on his face.
An Artists Muse
Steve’s Auto Restorations or S.A.R. was the talk of the venue after their Renaissance Roadster took home the 2017 Ridler honors. However the hand made aluminum roadster wasn’t their only build at the show, their Panama yellow ’57 Corvette was a resto-mod build of the highest order.
Hiding under timeless C1 lines is a custom round tube frame built by SRIII Motorsports.
The tube frame is complimented by C5 suspension in the front and C4 suspension in the rear giving this sixty year old car handling capabilities better than vehicles half its age.
Under the hood is a Cadillac LSA motor, that puts down an incredibly healthy 556 horse power through a 6 speed Tremec transmission.
The wheels are one off 18 inch pieces designed in house by S.A.R. and the 245/255 inch rubber wouldn’t fit under the stock fenders so those have been widened ever so slightly.
Additional body modifications, that almost go unnoticed due to their factory like execution, are a C2 inspired hood scoop, a ’53 trunk lid, and a ’53 windshield frame.
Inside the interior has been upholstered in suitable light tan by Dan’s Auto Upholstery in Portland Oregon. A custom wood rimmed steering wheel sits in front of Z06 instruments and the loud pedal along with the brake and clutch pedal are one off items.
Wider is Better
Not one, but two, Corvette’s made their way into the Pirelli tires Great 8 in 2017 and both were great examples of just how much you can do to a Corvette while still paying respect to the original styling features that GM designers put into these cars.
The Split Ray is The Autoshoppe‘s version of a C3 Corvette, and the Vermont based shop literally split this car down the center to create their vision.
Widened over six inches right down the center the car has been draped over a purpose built Roadster Shop chassis.
While not immediately observed from a three quarter angle, the six inches are noticeable from the rear, where the view is impressive to say the least.
The Auto Shoppe also added an extra set of tail lights to the rear of the car which help balance out the added width, and there’s not a car guy or girl in the world who would argue that the C3 doesn’t look stellar on the ultra wide 345/30 tires.
The wheels on the car clock in at 19×11 and 20×12 but thanks to their design, which was influenced by factory originals, they do not look the least bit out of place. Behind the wheels are 14 inch Baer brakes which yes for those of you keeping score are just one inch smaller than the original equipment wheels!
Spinning the tires at the stab of the gas pedal is a supercharged LS9 motor mated to a T5 magnum six speed transmission.
The 638 horsepower motor is of course impeccably detailed and looks great inside the smoothed and clutter free engine bay.
Inside The Auto Shoppe updated the interior using styling cues from a C7 sting ray.
If we were not intimately familiar with what the C2 interior looked like we might have thought this new fusion of old and new was factory because it looked that good.
The Lady In Red
The second Corvette to grace the Great 8 in 2017 was Larry and Robbie Grifey’s 1954 Corvette known as Transitions, and to accurately describe this Corvette we first need to lay the back story.
In 1954, at Motorama, GM debuted a concept Corvette. The original concept was a modified ’53 roadster that had a removable hard top and roll up windows, features that would eventually make their way into the ’56 model.
Inspired by that car Larry Griffey’s Hot Rods and Restorations set out to build a Corvette of their own that incorporated a number of modern amenities and styling cues without taking away from the distinctive look that made the 1954 concept car so memorable.
Perhaps the most stand out feature of Transitions from at a glance is its killer profile. The car has a deliberate forward rake that suggests much more than just suspension lowering was employed to give it such a magnificent stance.
After a brief chat with the builders we learned that this Corvette has indeed been body dropped.
However instead of your standard body drop, where the body is channeled over the frame equally from front to rear, this car has a tapered body drop. The rear was taken down an inch, the front had one and a half inches removed at the A-pillar, and two inches were taken out at the front fender.
In isolation the changes are almost unnoticeable but beside a standard C1 this car would look wildly different.
Additionally the rear wheel wells were moved inward and the quarters extended three quarters of an inch to accept the 18×8 by 20×10 Billet Specialties Knuckle wheels.
Under the car is a modified, and highly detailed Jamison chassis with C4 suspension. Braking comes via Custom Baer rotors and 6 piston calipers.
Inside the car, occupants are better sheltered than factory thanks to a custom made internal structure. While we hope this car never gets into an accident, it is nice to know that after all this modification the owner’s are riding in a car that is ultimately safer than it had ever been.
Safety might have been first in the interior, but aesthetics were an extremely close second and to that note Pro Auto Custom Interiors designed an interior specifically for this car.
Updated, but not too much, the interior is further accented by carefully placed LED lighting.
Detroit Autorama might not be a Corvette show, but all four of these cars are a Corvette enthusiasts dream and being able to see them all under the same roof is an experience we won’t soon forget.
We’d love the opportunity to catch up with all of these cars sometime in the future and do a full feature on them and maybe, just maybe get a ride shotgun!