Corvette C7: To Customize or Not?
The idea of adding a few unique touches to Corvettes is nothing new, considering there has always been some element of personalization attached to the cars throughout the history of the nameplate.
Even some of the earlier models purchased during the sixties underwent minor custom treatments from owners who had a desire to add something more personal to their cars.
Over the 62-year history of the Corvette, that concept has transcended into everything from custom colors and wheels to wide-body kits and velour seats. Not to mention all the performance upgrades that have grown out of owners wanting more power from the car. Modifications like increasing the output have become part of the core DNA of the ‘Vette. Look no further than some of the recent C7 horsepower numbers we’ve been reporting here at Corvette Forum as evidence of that.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
However, when it comes to modifying the car’s design elements, well, that’s a different story. And given all the options now offered by Chevrolet for the C7, coupled with the raw beauty of the new Stingray, there are some who’d argue that there’s not much anyone could add to the C7 to improve the look of the new Corvette.
From sportier wheels like the new 10-spoke blade pearl wheels to special trim packages like the new 2016 twilight blue package, the C7 now offers dozens of custom design options for buyers.
Chris Lindamood, a Corvette sales specialist with Rick Hendrick Corvette in Georgia, said the factory options offered for the C7 certainly seem to be enough for most buyers that come into their dealership. Hendrick doesn’t do any performance or aesthetic modifications in-house, but even the referrals they make to their local partnering shops tend to be more minimal custom work, explained Lindamood.
“For the customer that is wanting to do something to the car, 60 to 70 percent of what we see, are the ones that either want to protect it or get it professionally detailed or a nice window tint,” said Lindamood. “As far as changing wheels or anything like that, everybody seems to be pretty happy with what is offered from the OEM.”
Yet, there clearly seems to be a market for those who crave even more unique features on their C7, like the widebody models designed by Forgiato, which raises the question — is there ever a point where customization gets to be too much on a new Corvette?
Sure, a lot of it boils down to a matter of personal taste. Thought being — if you like it, who cares what anybody else thinks, right?
Still, it does raise the question: at what point, if any, do some of the mods start to take away from the essence of the Corvette? Or, is the sense of freedom that comes with customizing the car one of the things that makes its special?
LET’S HEAR FROM THE EXPERTS
Jim Bell, head of consumer affairs, General Motors, says that while the Chevrolet brand certainly welcomes the custom appeal of the Corvette, some of the modifications do leave the design team with mixed emotions.
“Chevy’s view is, we think the car looks pretty darn good leaving the factory so we don’t necessarily support it or condone it,” he explained. “We are happy with what we do from the start. But obviously we get a lot of play at SEMA and we understand that space so it’s important part of our business and we support it.”
Ken Lingenfelter, a highly respected Corvette collector and modifier, believes the C7 certainly has presented a welcomed dilemma for enthusiasts, like himself, when it comes to customizing the car.
“It is already a drop dead beautiful car…especially the Z06,” said the owner of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. “They (Chevy) have really done a good job. They really haven’t left a lot on the table in that regard.”
The Lingenfelter approach to developing special exterior parts for the C7 has been focused on what the longtime Corvette enthusiast describes as unique “tasteful” additions that don’t compromise the original design of the car.
One of the company’s most recent C7 projects is a red widebody model being displayed at Bloomington Gold this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We have things like body rockers, diffusers, hood scoops and rear quarter panels for the C7 that we think really enhance the car, but a lot of it starts with a beautiful car from the get-go,” Lingenfelter explained.
KEEPIN’ IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE
Lingenfelter said it’s also important to keep in mind that the C7, like previous Corvettes, is really intended for owners to enjoy the car as they personally see fit, which lends itself to different ideas on personalization.
Even from a collector’s point of view, gauging what kind of value a custom C7 will have down the road is really a matter of personal opinion, noted Lingenfelter.
“There are a lot of people that collect cars,” he said. “There are people who just want to have them, there are people who want to race them. There are people who want the most unique. I sometimes get asked the question, ‘is it more collectible if it’s modified or not?’ That’s a subjective question because it all depends on the person who is looking at the car.”
Bell also made a point to note that even some of the wildest custom work he’s seen on C7s has a bright spot for the nameplate.
“We’re happy that the Corvette is really getting into that space of some crazy things done to it that have been done on Lamborghinis and Ferraris. And I don’t think those companies are necessarily happy about some of the things that some of these companies do to their cars. But it also draws attention to the brand and shows the kind of aspiration (people) have for the car,” said Bell. “It shows that the (Corvette) has reached that status…worthy enough of that kind of customizing. It’s gone to the next level.”