As America celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, honoring those who have fallen in battle to protect our freedoms, a rather patriotic 2016 Corvette Z06 is doing its part, too.
The owner of this heavily modified Corvette wanted the car to pay tribute to the military, and Karl Kustoms, a Chevrolet Performance retailer and custom shop in Des Moines, Iowa, proved more than up to the task as craftsmen recently finished their work on “The Defender.”
This show car, led by Bad Boy Vettes, is on display at the National Corvette Museum through the rest of 2021 and will then travel across the nation, visiting 10 to 12 shows. It’s also competing for the 2021 International Show Car Association (ISCA) Car of the Year.
The owner originally brought it to Karl Kustoms to add a new rear diffuser, front bumper, and custom hood, “and it kind of took off from there,” says Ed Birmingham of Karl Kustoms, who did the tedious air brush work on the car.
Nearly every panel on the car honors the brave men and women who have served in our military, including the hood that stands for the fallen and remembers all the soldiers who didn’t make it back.
“I decided to do the Arlington stones across the bottom,” Birmingham explains, “and (the owner) came up with the idea on the very four bottom stones to have names of servicemen from World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and Korea so they picked Medal of Honor winners from each of the conflicts.”
Also on the hood is a picture of a horse kneeling with the casket at Arlington, “so we decided on the other side to have the osprey with the servicemen saluting the casket as we take off. The very top one I came up with was the angel flight – it’s the C-130. When it’s bringing the fallen soldier back, it lets off the flares and in the prop wash it looks like angel’s wings going out behind it. And then top that off with the lettering HONOR, DUTY, COUNTRY.”
The coilovers had been damaged from everyday driving of the car, so Birmingham went to work designing an Apache helicopter taking out a Russian helicopter, a tank, and a servicemen with his dog over here on the Army side and a detailed USS Iowa battleship firing guns, a submarine, and F-35 planes for the Navy on the other side.
The work proved to be quite tedious for Birmingham, who says he is used to working on bigger projects. “So putting that much detail on a small thing, I had to sit there for hours,” he said. “Little teeny paintbrush or little teeny airbrush or cut a tiny little mask and just keep moving things around. The amount of time just on those valve covers is way more than I normally put on anything, but on a car like this it paid off!”
Birmingham says the owner wanted the car to have the wow factor, “and I think we added a lot of the wow factor to it!”
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