Everyone enjoys when their car has more power. Truth is, as the horsepower under the hoods of Corvettes has increased, the limiting factor has become how to get all that additional horsepower to the pavement. Even in base model form, the Stingray Corvette’s stock LT1 puts out 460 horsepower and is capable of some serious acceleration. Any speed parts added will only reduce the hope that your rear tires have when trying to get a grip. Plus, let’s just face it, enthusiasts are always looking for ways to upgrade their cars and set them apart from the bone stock crowd.
One way to do that is by utilizing components from upgraded models to “upgrade” your own ride. Many components are available from Chevrolet that will fit “lesser equipped” models and can be ordered directly through a local dealer. Doing things this way, you retain the factory quality level within the components and fitment shouldn’t be an issue.
One of the issues with doing something like a “widebody kit” on a C7 Stingray Corvette by using Grand Sport or Z06 components is that the wider rear quarter panels were designed to match up with Z06 or Grand Sport-specific rocker panels. That means to mate everything together, you’ll need to remove the rocker panels.
As the C7 Corvette moves down the assembly line, the rocker panel is the first exterior body panel the assembly plant bonds to the hydro-formed, aluminum chassis using a calibrated fixture. The lower rocker panel is the foundation of the C7 Corvette and all other panels are built around this one. That means to remove and install a new rocker panel involves removing the doors, as well as the entire rear panel assembly. Installing the new lower rocker panel is done using an application-specific urethane adhesive and correct positioning is paramount because doors, fenders and quarter panels all need to line up properly to this panel.
A Simpler Solution
While upgrading everything to widebody status using all GM parts is quite labor-intensive, many folks might consider the upgrade if it weren’t for the additional steps with the rocker panels. That is where the aftermarket really begins to shine. Zip Products has worked with Advanced Composite Specialties (ACS Composite) to make several kits available to Corvette owners that do not require removal of the factory rocker panels. This is done by providing a panel that mates the stock rocker with the additional width of the new quarter panels. Thankfully, the doors do not have to be removed nor the rocker panels.
Installation time is greatly reduced, thanks to not dealing with the doors and rockers, but other benefits of the kit are that each kit is a true bolt-on conversion, there is no cutting or grinding required. The rocker panel extension is bolted on (some drilling necessary) to make up the difference between the stock rocker and the wider rear quarters and the kit can typically be installed within a day.
ACS Composite describes the conversion from stock Stingray to widebody as, “more of a lengthy install than it is a difficult one.” All in all, it is greatly simplified by retaining the stock rocker panels. Zip Products offers several kits for 2014-2019 Corvettes, whether coupes or convertibles. There are also kits for those who might want Z06-style cooling ducts or the factory appearing, smooth-sided Stingray style.
Of course, since you’re considering modifying the body of your Corvette, you may also want to consider one of the various styles of side skirts, front splitters, rear spoilers or a variety of other items that will help differentiate your car from the rest. The widebody kit includes everything you need to “stretch” the rear of your base model Corvette - making it possible to get those factory 20 x 12-inch wheels or even custom 20 x 13-inch (from the likes of CCW or Forgeline) inside the fenders.
The ACS Composite-fabricated panels used in the C7 Corvette widebody kits are manufactured using RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) technology, which combines a mix of vinyl-ester resins and continuous fiberglass. The process involves being injected into a mold and then compressed under high pressure. The result is a rigid, durable, and smooth panel that is simple to work with and ideal for cosmetic automotive add-ons.
ACS Composite’s Joseph Taverna explains the difference between their RTM panels and the factory, “GM uses SMC on the Corvette panels, and from a functional perspective, both procedures yield identical results. ACS’s RTM manufacturing process has been validated to meet and exceed GM’s durability standard and has been used for various OEM programs destined for GM. The benefit of RTM applies mainly on ACS Composite’s end, where the panels are easier to work with and we can fine-tune the final product for a perfect fit and finish.”
We firmly believe that our products go on the car without needing to alter the product in any shape or form; a final sanding, and then painting is all that is required. - Joseph Taverna, ACS Composite
The RTM process creates a panel that is smooth on both sides with a consistent thickness across the entire surface. The controlled fiberglass/resin composition of RTM reduces cure times and eliminates the possibility of “wet” parts being removed from the mold prematurely. Once fully cured, panels are then trimmed using a CNC robotic water-jet for a clean, smooth cut on every part, resulting in a better fitting panel.
Fitment is key, as the panels are designed using GM OEM data, meaning nothing was hand-modeled on the car. It was all done through digital designing and to the exact specification of the C7 Corvette. This limits the variance in the final fitment from car to car. This benefits the end user with reduced install time and they don’t need to do extra modifications not only to the car, but the product itself. Joseph explains, “We firmly believe that our products go on the car without needing to alter the product in any shape or form; a final sanding, and then painting is all that is required.”
All body panels will need to be painted to match your car, but accessory components you might choose to accent your wider ride, such as spoilers, splitters or side skirts can be had in a variety of finishes. If you are wanting to have the parts painted, primer is the best choice and requires a final sanding prior to paint. Carbon Flash Metallic Black is the general recommendation for all products on a C7 Corvette. This color will match the trim pieces already found on your C7 including the front grill, rear diffuser and fender inserts. Essentially, all black accent pieces are in Carbon Flash Metallic Black.
What Do You Get?
The complete package includes everything needed for a factory-style conversion, including RTM rear quarters, fender extensions, inner fender liners, and quarter ducts, everything you need to “stretch” the rear of your base model Corvette. The upgrade brings an added 40mm width on either side, allowing room for wheels with 335-25-20 tires.
With that additional rubber out back, each one of those 460 ponies under the hood of your Stingray may find it a lot harder to make smoke. You’ll enjoy the improved traction when you need it most, and your Corvette will look great from any angle, including from the rear, where competitors will see it the most. Bringing so many benefits in such a high-quality offering, the biggest issue you might have is determining which options you may want on your car and what color combination will tie it all together.