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DIY wide body conversion project

Old 07-27-2016, 01:58 AM
Jet Vet
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Default DIY wide body conversion project

After thinking about it for some time and doing lots of research on the process, I decided to launch off on a complete (front and rear) wide body conversion on my ’15 Z51. I track the car extensively, and the room for wider wheels and tires was my primary motivation, but the looks are definitely a factor too. I don’t like the ‘add on’ look of some fender extension kits, even though that route is simpler, so I opted for genuine GM Z06 body parts. There is a kit available for that as well, but you will still have to either arrange for the installation at a body shop, or do the work yourself. That being the case, I decided to set about ordering the parts directly myself to save some money, and to do the installation myself as well, both to save money and because I’m retired with lots of spare time, and I love hands-on car projects.

In this thread I’ll take you through the project from start to finish, but please realize that I am in no hurry, and I take lots of breaks. I’ll try to distill my reports of how long each phase takes down to actual time spent working, so what actually takes me effectively all day might only require two hours of serious work on your part. I’ll also save you a lot of time on the research as well as a couple of handy notes on things you can only learn by doing them (or reading this thread).

If you have a body shop do all the work be prepared for a hefty price, as there is a ton of labor involved. If you decide to tackle this project yourself, you’ll need plenty of garage and storage space in order to have enough room to work, while at the same time storing new body panels. Seven body panels and four wheel well liners take up a lot of space! You also need to understand just how big this project is. In addition to removing most of the exterior body panels, the doors and seats must be completely removed to allow access to the aperture panel for its removal and replacement. And while the other panels are pretty simple to remove, the aperture panels, which are much larger than you think, are permanently bonded to the frame with epoxy, and require a heat gun and pry tools to remove. The new panels must also be painted. I was very fortunate to find a local custom body shop whose owner was quite interested in my plans, and he did the paint work for a very reasonable price.

The first thing you’ll need to do is order the parts, either in kit form from Weapon-X or other vendor, or direct from online dealerships like I did. All together I used three online GM dealership parts departments plus ebay, since some would not ship large parts, some charged outrageous shipping fees, and nobody had the lowest prices on everything. Tedious for sure, but I saved over $2000 off the bundle price. Either way you’ll need the following Z06 parts:

2 front fenders
2 front wheel well liners
2 aperture panels (rockers)
2 rear quarter panels
2 rear wheel well liners
1 rear (upper) bumper cover
Z06 rear spoiler (rear end is now wider so the Stingray/Z51 unit won’t fit)
2 front fender vent grilles
2 front fender moldings
2 quarter panel rear brake cooling scoop liners
2 rear valence/bumper cover vent grilles
Fuel compartment door
Assorted fasteners and clips, many of which can be reused original parts

I don’t know if the kit vendors include the front fender vent grilles & moldings, and the rear bumper vent grilles, but they definitely don’t include the spoiler, assuming you want one. The original rear lower valance from your Stingray stays, as does the front bumper cover. The wider rear bumper cover still mates to the original lower valance by virtue of the wider Z06 vent grilles. The new, wider front fenders taper inward at the forward end and fit properly against the original front bumper cover.

I received the parts I ordered about ten days ago, and took the body panels to the custom shop for painting. We decided to paint the panels off the car, then do any blending, if necessary, after reassembly. I picked up the finished panels on monday (they appear to match perfectly), and began disassembly of the car on tuesday. Its late now and I’m tired, so I’ll post pics tomorrow.


Last edited by Jet Vet; 08-19-2016 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 07-27-2016, 02:18 AM
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St. Jude Donor '15

Wow, that's a project! I look forward to seeing your progress! Did you think about changing the color of your ride at all? Seems like you probably could've since you're swapping almost everything out.

Good luck!
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Old 07-27-2016, 02:22 AM
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Good luck looks like a lot of work.
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Old 07-27-2016, 02:44 AM
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Ever thought of just trading in/up instead?
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Old 07-27-2016, 03:09 AM
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I'm curious also what the price difference was to just getting a new GS?
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Old 07-27-2016, 05:44 AM
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Interested to see the finished project
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Old 07-27-2016, 09:06 AM
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Can't wait to see it. Good luck.
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Old 07-27-2016, 09:22 AM
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We need lots of pictures!

Good luck with the project!
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Old 07-27-2016, 04:49 PM
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Thanks for all the good luck wishes, as well as the , which I’ll take as good natured ribbing. As for why I would undertake such a large project rather than trade up to another vette, I buy a sports car every ten or twelve years because it really lights a fire in me, and I have no desire to hop into the newest model. This one is a shark gray Z51 A8 with light gray/black leather LT3 interior and carbon fiber roof. I have also spent a fair amount of time and money customizing it further with more carbon fiber, such as the dash and shift console panels, hood vent and outside mirrors. I also upgraded the track handling with adjustable coilovers and heavy duty sway bars, and the sound with a Borla exhaust. Now I really like it. I didn’t buy a Z06 originally because I wanted a naturally aspirated engine for the track. My costs so far have been $4000 for wide body panels and trim and $1900 for the body shop to paint them. My time and labor are free, so unless there are unexpected costs, that will be my total investment. Caveat: Your Mileage May Vary! Here are the pictures from my work yesterday. As I expected, I spent most of the day to get to this point but actual time working on the car was about 3 hours.

After getting the car up on jack stands or a lift you must disconnect the battery negative cable because you will be removing the seats which have side impact air bags, and you don't want to risk getting a face full. Before doing that, be sure to lower the windows because you'll be removing the doors to access the aperture panel.

Procedures for removing the lower valance and then the rear bumper cover are covered in detail in sticky posts on this forum. To remove the lower vent grilles and the tail light frames I used a medium sized allen wrench. Angle the short end through the openings, rotate it so the arm is behind a strong section, then hold the long end tightly with pliers and pull to begin disengaging the clips. Remember, you'll reuse the lower valance, tail lights and their frames, and the wiring harness, third brake light, license plate lamps and lock mounted inside the rear bumper cover, but not the rear bumper cover itself or the lower vent grilles.

I cannot stress enough the need to keep all fasteners in zip lock bags, labeled according to, and kept with, the panel they were removed from. Also, pictures of each area will come in very handy when you are putting everything back together.

You DO NOT need to disengage the deck lid release cable from the latch located in the frame, because you will remove the other end of that cable and its actuator mounted on the inside of the bumper cover. When you pull the bumper cover away from the car, have a large cardboard box positioned to support it while you disconnect the wiring connectors and the key and push button release mechanisms.

Have blankets or other padding to lay the bumper cover on while removing the wiring harness, clips, tail lights and third brake light, all of which will be reused. I used a chaise lounge cushion. Take lots of pictures of the inside of the bumper cover for reference when installing everything in the new one. Be careful when removing the license plate lamps, its easy to damage the surrounding area. Disconnect the wiring connectors first, then angle the lamp housings to fit through the opening from the outside. The forked, weed-digging garden tool in the pictures is indispensable for removing many of the clips, especially the ones with round heads.

As you can see here I've already installed the larger LG transmission oil cooler.

The rear quarter panels are quite easy and straightforward to remove. Remove the wheel well liner first, as you will need access to the screw connecting the front edge of the quarter panel to the rear edge of the aperture panel. Then just remove the torx screws around the perimeter and pull it out rearward. Remove and keep the flange at the rear edge which has the orange bayonet fittings to align the rear bumper cover. The drivers side quarter panel is also attached by the fueling door lock mechanism and the overflow drain tube.

This view shows how big the aperture panel is. It is shaped like a very wide 'U', and runs from just under the edge of the quarter window, downward and then across the rocker area, and continues up the forward section of the door opening to near the windshield. This afternoon I'll start on the front end, removing the front bumper cover (which is reused) to allow removal of the front fenders. Then I'll attack the apertures.

Last edited by Jet Vet; 07-27-2016 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 07-27-2016, 06:01 PM
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Jet!! Very nice.... I have my panels for the rear widebody right now at the shop.... The rocker is the only thing I'm slightly worried about.... Ill probably destroy the factory rockers, but that's ok ha

Keep up the awesome work, this thread will be viewed for a LONG time
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:24 PM
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Looking forward to seeing finished front fenders. Perhaps GM will see something better than adding spates! I'm planning to replace my 2014 Z51 with a 2019 GS and perhaps by then they will see fit to get new front fender molds for it and the Z06!
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:56 PM
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Holy Moly... I am subscribing to this to see the progress. Nice work! I just replaced my front bumper, and passenger side wheel well liner and headlight, and was surprised at how modular the car is, and how easy it is to work on.
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:06 PM
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Last edited by jagamajajaran; 07-27-2016 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:14 PM
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Cool project! Since you are removing the aperture panels and have an A8, will you be installing the latest trans cooling solution that involves running cooling lines forward under the aperture panel?
Great pictures, will be following this thread.
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Makitso View Post
Cool project! Since you are removing the aperture panels and have an A8, will you be installing the latest trans cooling solution that involves running cooling lines forward under the aperture panel?
Great pictures, will be following this thread.
No, I won't be needing the forward mounted secondary transmission fluid cooler because I just installed my OEM cooler (removed and replaced with the larger LG unit) as a secondary, under the rear cross member. That solved my transmission temp problems.

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Old 07-27-2016, 11:23 PM
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Man looks like I may be doing this wide body over the winter and not the blower in the car until next winter. Plus the LG trans cooler also. I got the auto trans pan from them and chged that factory stuff to S/amsoil in the auto trans.

Man LG makes some great parts for all of these cars. By the way great looking work on the car cant wait to see it done. Going to give me something to looking to do this winter..
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:23 PM
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Can you provide a list of all the parts # that would be required to turn a Z51 into a "true" wide body?

I'm trying to get a price estimation for a complete job. I don't have enough car knowledge so I wouldn't take on this challenge myself. I'd have to take it to a reliable body shop or dealership and have the work done there.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:47 PM
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Thanks for the pics, helps me with the bumper wiring.

The Z06 gas cap is different too.

I didn't even notice the z51 spoiler was shorter till you pointed it out and I went and looked, wrecked my night. Not sure if I care to spend another 500+ at this point for and uglier z06 version.

They want 10 grand to paint my panels. I hate canada.
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Old 07-28-2016, 12:06 AM
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Thanks for doing this. These pics will help a lot of people, even if they aren't doing a wide body.
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Old 07-28-2016, 12:25 AM
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