Putting a different body on an automotive chassis is a time-honored technique, dating back to the first cars ever produced. These early vehicles had wooden coaches, followed by sheetmetal bodies bolted to wooden frames. Henry Ford even experimented with a plastic body made from soybeans. Of course, the Corvette was the first production car to have a fiberglass outer skin. As composite technology advanced, so did the lamination quality, with sheet molding compound (SMC) replacing the old-school resin-and-glass layup starting with the C4 model in 1984. Later, high-tech materials such as carbon-fiber were introduced.
What's the point of this brief history of car bodies? Well, Corvette owners with a creative bent have never been reluctant to customize the shape of their cars, with the 'glass body material simplifying the process. Initially, these changes consisted of grafting on wider fender flares to make room for bigger racing tires, along with various aero pieces for more downforce. This trend quickly evolved into more personal and extensive expressions, albeit not always in the best of taste (Corvette Summer, anyone?).
One of the most famous Corvette body conversions of all time was the black '72 Daytona Spyder that appeared on the Miami Vice TV series. Created by Tom McBurnie to fit on a 1980 Chevy Corvette C3, it prompted lawsuits from Enzo Ferrari, who sought to protect his design from replication. Actor Don Johnson's ride was ultimately blown to pieces in the premiere episode of Season Three, after which Ferrari donated a couple of '86 Testarossas as replacements.
But we digress. All this background basically illustrates the versatility of the Corvette for various enhancements and embellishments. To that end, we've gathered a bevy of bodies beautiful-some intended as tributes to legendary Corvette racers, others as individual expressions of creativity. Many of the companies also offer various upgrades that take performance to a whole new level. In other cases, you can have a high-performance, specialty-constructed vehicle that uses Corvette components on a custom frame. Whatever your taste or inclination, there's something for you here (but no soybeans, sadly).
Projex Motors PC-3
Projecting an entirely different persona
Even though a number of vehicles have served as platforms for various body-conversion projects, the one that offers the most promise is America's sports car. After all, the Corvette's performance is undisputed, and prices of certain models have been dropping like a stone in recent years. These fundamental features make the new Projex PC-3 an appealing new entry, as it represents an attractive and high-quality body conversion on the capable C4 chassis.
What made Projex pursue this particular platform? The firm's founders, Richard Graham and Evan Greenberg, have a long history of producing fiberglass sculptures and other objets d'art for Las Vegas casinos, but it was more than just their facility with fiberglass that led them to this project.
The principals of Projex favored a gentleman's touring machine that would convey a certain "quiet style, like a good wine-bold, but not arrogant." An Italian flavor came to mind, but this would not be a slavish copy that would invite the wrath of trade-dress attorneys (as did Tom McBurnie's faux Daytona). Instead, Projex insisted on creating something unique, incorporating multiple design styles.
Once the specifics of the PC-3 were finalized, Projex decided on two packages. The Basic Panel Kit ($9,995) consists of 11 major components, including the nose, hood, doors, rockers, vents, and rear clip. For an extra $2,000, the Enhanced Car Kit adds headlight bezels and covers, along with a front grille, a windshield-frame cover, and interior console trim. These components are designed to fit C4s from '84 to '92, but not the later '93 to '96 models. Turnkey models are available, and a roadster version is in the works.