The annual SEMA show in Las Vegas has gone from an esoteric event for aftermarket parts companies to a stage where carmakers unveil paint-by-number, celebrity-endorsed show cars.
Chevrolet is following this trend – bringing two modified Corvettes to Vegas along with a horde of other cars – but it also announced an intriguing way for owners to build custom ‘Vettes of their own.
The two headlining SEMA Corvettes are about as different as can be. The first is a brand-new Stingray designed by Kiss frontman Paul Stanley.
Stanley’s influence seems limited to the admittedly handsome candy-apple red and silver exterior, and the Jet Black interior with quilted parchment leather seats and dark red accents. The only performance enhancements come from the factory Z51 package and sport exhaust.
Stanley described the car as a “world class piece of machinery.”
Chevy also collaborated with NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson on a 1971 Corvette, painted in a very 1970s shade of silver. Rebuilt from the ground up, it features numerous suspension and chassis upgrades as well as the powertrain from a new Corvette.
That’s right, this blast from the past as the same LT1 6.2-liter V8 under the hood as the 2015 Stingray you can get from a Chevy dealership today. It produces the same 460 horsepower as it does in a new Corvette, and should be a bit less thirsty than the engine Johnson pulled out of his ’71.
The LT1 is actually offered as a crate motor. You can put it in an old Corvette, or anything you want, for a starting price of $11,000 before accessories.
Speaking of fun parts Chevy also previewed a series of “concept” parts from the 2015 Corvette Z06 that it’s thinking of making available to owners of base Stingray models.
The list of parts includes virtually everything except the Z06’s 650-hp LT4 V8, including its carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fiber torque, tube, Bilstein shocks, and the majority of the Z06’s exterior bits.
That means owners could upgrade their cars to near-Z06 spec, assuming Chevy puts the parts on sale. It claims to just be gauging interest, but the Bowtie brand has offered Z06 parts to the wider public before.
In fact, it based two other models – the Corvette Grand Sport and 427 Convertible – on components from the last Z06. Buyers will likely have to wait until the 2015 Z06 itself goes on sale to get a crack at these upgrades, though.