This or That: Corvette Restomod vs Grand Sport Tribute


This or That: Corvette Restomod vs Grand Sport Tribute

Welcome back to This or That, the column where CorvetteBlogger forces its knowledgeable readers to choose between two ultra-desirable examples of America’s Sports Car. The last match-up was even closer than we ever imagined, with the ’67 L71 Convertible beating the ’63 Split-Window Fuelie by just two votes!

On today’s episode, we are taking a similar path. This week we are tailoring ToT for someone who is looking for a high-end mid-year Corvette but is really only interested in the G.O.A.T.’s looks. This hypothetical buyer would rather have modern running gear than NCRS prominence, so what do they do? Conveniently, there are two schools of thought aimed at this exact breed of Corvette customers. Which way would you lean if you were presented with a car from each side?

Option 1: The Restomod

The new-ish phenomenon of putting the best of both worlds together in one vehicle, old-school looks with modern technology and stylistic touches, is the first way you could proceed when presented with today’s dilemma. The RestoMod (it is different than Hot Rodding, we swear!) that we chose to tempt you with this week comes to your screen all the way from the home of The Masters, Augusta, Georgia. It started its life as a 1965 Corvette Convertible but nearly every aspect of its being has been updated. Its Jet Black exterior has been accented with a red 1967 Big-Block-style stinger hood that perfectly matches the full leather interior and the calipers of the slotted and drilled Wilwood power disc brakes. Covering those stoppers is a set of chrome 20-spoke wheels in the style of the C6 ZR1. Underneath the custom chassis, you’ll find the suspension set-up of a 1992 C4 Corvette and a 3.73 rear end. Power comes courtesy of an LS3 crate motor tied to a Tremec 5-Speed manual transmission. All of this adds up to one stunning package that perfectly achieves its goal of mixing old-school style with modern technology and driving greatness.

1965 Corvette Restomod

Option 2: The Tribute

We are going to take the scenic route to get to our second car. What are the most valuable vehicles that General Motors ever manufactured? It’s gotta be the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport racers that were personally engineered and commissioned to race at Le Mans by Zora Arkus-Duntov, himself, right? Zora’s intended run of 125 homologation specials was halted after just five were built. The last time one of the five crossed the auction block, bidding reached $4.9 million. Even at that price, it was a no-sale, though a deal was later reached. Today it is estimated that an original GS would hammer somewhere between 6 and 9 million smackeroos! Because of the stratospheric prices and extremely low production numbers, even the most diehard enthusiasts won’t ever see one in action, let alone drive one in their lifetime.

The ’63 Grand Sport situation (and many similarly unattainable classic cars) has spawned an entire industry around fulfilling enthusiast dreams through the sale of licensed replicas of untouchable vehicles. One of the biggest names in this marketplace is Superformance. While they cut their teeth making Shelby Cobras, they recently signed a deal with GM to build “1963” Grand Sports. As a part of this contract, the General provided Superformance with original blueprints to Zora’s on-track masterpiece. Each example that they build is a perfect visual replica of a $6 million ‘Vette, but under the skin, customers are able to customize to their heart’s desire. The example that is up for grabs from RK Motors in Charlotte is Jet Black over black leather and is home to a powerplant even stouter than the original 377 ci monsters installed in the genuine article. In this instance, we are talking about the supercharged 6.2L LT4 from the C7 Z06. Unlike any modern implementation of this now-legendary motor, the Superformance GS lets it exhale through the ultimate in cool; side pipes. Underneath, you can see where SF began their ground-up build; a tube chassis. The independent suspension features Bilstein shocks and modern coil-overs. The transmission is a six-speed from Tremec, and you control the front wheels through power rack-and-pinion steering. Behind the beautiful Halibrand knock-off wheels, you’ll find disc brakes. Then there is our favorite touch, the rear deck-mounted differential oil cooler!

1963 Superformance Grand Sport

Decision Points:

Eye of the Beholder: This isn’t your typical edition of ToT, so much of this section won’t be applicable to these two non-original Corvettes. As usual, looks are subjective, as is your preference in the supercharged vs. naturally aspirated powerplant battle. The other major differentiator is the roof (or lack thereof)! Pick your poison on all of those categories!

Speed: Since rarity doesn’t really matter with these two, we are jumping straight to speed! While there isn’t any certified data on these two bespoke creations, we’d bet a Buffalo nickel that the purpose-built race car with 100+ more horsepower is quicker than the drop-top grand tourer/show car in every metric.

Price: Both of our choices this week command similar, or even higher prices than the all-original MidYear “holy grails” that we featured last time, which certainly won’t sit well with a large swath of Corvette Nation. Nonetheless, our RMod and our Tribute earn their asking prices with high-quality, uncompromised builds that are aimed at a different customer base than the collector-quality examples that we saw at the beginning of the month. Today’s bottom lines are both pretty steep. It is the ’63 Grand Sport that takes the cake though with a 12% upcharge when compared to the ’65 ‘vert! RK is asking $199,900 for their mirror image of Zora’s greatest creation. Deciding to pull the trigger on the 1965 Restomod, on the other hand, will “only” put some lucky owner back $175,500.

The Bloggers Weigh-in:

Alex: I’m going to keep this one short and sweet; it’s the Grand Sport for me. That ’65 truly is beautiful, but these reproduction ’63 GSs are the coolest things on four-wheels in my book! I’ll take mine in the #2 color scheme, à la A.J. Foyt, please!

Keith: Having had the opportunity and good fortune to drive a number of Corvette restomods, there is nothing like having a modern powertrain and the latest technology under the body of a classic Corvette and generally, you only need to turn the key and go! Plus the restomods usually have all the goodies, from power steering and brakes to air conditioning and Bluetooth-enabled stereos. However, the Superformance 1963 Corvette Grand Sport is also a restomod in its own right as it’s powered by a modern-day Chevy powerplant, in this case, the 650-hp LT4! The Superformance Grand Sport looks like a brute when compared to the refined lines and chrome wheels found on the restomod and so I am picking the Tribute as well.

What about you, readers?

Would you rather pro-tour or pay tribute?

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’65 Restomod and ’63 Grand Sport Tribute

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  1. The Bill Thomas Cheetah was a spin off of the Grand Sport Corvette project. I contracted to have a replica Cheetah built by Bob Auxier from Glendale Arizona. The car was to be finished in 2000. I was stiffed $90,270 and never got the car. I also heard of someone from Ohio who was building replica Grand Sport Corvettes that got put away for taking two $50,000 deposits for the same VIN number when he never had the car.

  2. It’s the Grand Sport Tribute for me. I saw a blue Superformance Grand Sport at the last Queen City Corvette Club Corvette Show at Hendrick Motorsports. That bad boy was the beauty and the beast. It was badass! It’s the only one I’ve seen in person and I was totally impressed.

  3. Definitely the Grand Sport Tribute. I also don’t like that the builders of the Restomod chose to visually change a ’65 roadster into a ’67 roadster. If you want a ’67, then buy a ’67 — don’t ruin a ’65!

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