Corvette engineers have always had a desire to make Chevy’s sports car as light as possible.
Remember the exotic lightweight balsa wood used in the floor of the C5, for example?
Well, a Utah man has put his wrecked 1989 on a diet that makes other Corvettes look like gluttons, though the resulting vehicle definitely gives new meaning to the question, “What kind of car is that?”
Tom Kendrick of Park City tells ksl.com that he wanted to have a “visceral” experience with all of his senses interacting with his car and the road, so he started taking parts off his Corvette, and then some more parts, and then some more parts, and then, well, you get the picture.
His heavy-duty weight-loss program really made financial sense, too, since his car, which had been stolen and crashed in Colorado, would have cost $15,000 to repair in a normal fashion, about double what it would have then been worth afterward.
He paid just $2,000 for the wrecked Corvette, which he then started to disassemble, removing all of the interior, sound deadening, trim, power windows, driver information center, tire pressure monitors, mirrors, ABS system, and all-electric amenities, except the engine control module, anti-theft system, and lights.
The accident had bent the frame, but Kendrick straightened that out with a porta-power hand pump with a hydraulic ram. He’s also added an aluminum dash that he built using 2x4s, clamps, and a mallet and then had covered with padded marine vinyl. A simple Summit tach-gauge package keeps him informed of the crucial mechanical goings-on of his Corvette.
By the time he was done, the car’s weight had dropped to just 2,280 pounds, down more than a thousand pounds from the stock weight of about 3,300 pounds. Kendrick says he left the stock engine, which makes 245 horsepower, and says the reduced weight has led to “phenomenal” acceleration that he puts to good use at Sports Car Club of America events.
He has a “normal” Corvette that he uses when the weather is not good, but when the sun’s out, he loves using his Vette Kart to commute to work and run errands. Kendrick had to scrap the crunched body panels, but he’s sold some of the other items he’s removed to recover some of his initial investment and to help pay for the $1,500 roll cage he had installed.
If you’re wondering if the car is street legal, the answer is, it depends. The deputy who did the VIN inspection wasn’t too picky, but another officer wrote him a “fix-it” ticket on Aug. 17, which led Kendrick to build his own hood and fenders.
So what’s your opinion? As the former owner of an ’89 myself, I think this is a really cool way to let a wrecked car once doomed to the junkyard to live on. And based on what I remember of the tremendous torque, at least for back in the day, I have a feeling this would be a blast to drive with the reduced weight!
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