In the ’50s and early ’60s, when custom cars were getting crazier and crazier by the year, Corvettes were a favorite starting point for many builders. The ease of working with fiberglass was certainly one reason, as were the Vette’s handsome, yet compact, proportions, and the fact that the small-block Chevy V-8, even back then, readily lent itself to customization.
(Note that we’re talking about customs here, not the outrageous street freaks of the ’70s and ’80s. That’s a different story altogether, and one we’ll examine in a future column.)
One of the most way-out (wayest-out?) examples of a custom Corvette we spotted in the archive was the X-Sonic, which Car Craft featured in its Jan. ’63 issue. Built over the course of four years by Ron Aguirre of Rialto, California, the ’57 Vette featured sharp-edged pontoon front fenders (which helped extend the front end by a foot), sweeping rear fender fins, and a plastic bubble top that Aguirre operated via a radio-control box. In fact, about the only recognizable Corvette traits left on the car were its fender coves. The front suspension was a hydraulic/electric affair that Aguirre could raise or lower for car-show audiences. Famed custom painter Larry Watson sprayed the car in white lacquer, then misted some lavender around the edges and fin tips to accentuate their shape.
As strange as the car looks to us now, show judges loved it back in the early ’60s. It placed First in the Sports Car Class at the ’61 Indy Nationals, the Oakland Roadster Show, and shows in Evansville, Indiana, and Detroit. Aguirre also earned a First for Experimental Cars at a show in Hartford, “making it one of the top winners on the circuit,” said the article. “Aguirre has finally achieved his goal, a different car.”