Owning an exotic two-seat, ultra-performance car can be a series of trade-offs, especially when it comes to styling and exclusivity over practicality and reliability. That is, except for this one. That's because there's a C6 Corvette at the heart of Karvajal Designs' ZX-1.
You might ask why anyone would want to restyle the sixth generation of America's Only True Sports Car. Karl Hormann, president of Karvajal Designs and Hi-Tech Custom Concepts, says it comes down to what the Midyears and Sharks have. "We took some cues from the '60s-style Corvettes, because the Sting Rays had such sex appeal back then, and from the '70s Corvettes with their curved wheel arches," Karl says of the second- and third-generation Vettes that were backed by the passion that men like Bill Mitchell, Ed Cole, Larry Shinoda, and Zora Arkus-Duntov had for it.
The Karvajal ZX-1 Corvette looks great from any angle.
Nowadays, Karl sees The General aiming for just one segment of the market with the C6. "I see that GM designs these cars based on ergonomics and a target market of 55-year-olds-how can the old guys get in the car better, and can they see over the windshield as good," he says. "They're trying to cater too much to that demographic, but, of course, they want to sell the most cars possible." Per Karl, that was a big reason why they went to the drawing board and came up with a C6-based two-seater that, in his words, "gives you real sex appeal again, with the passion that they put in the car in the '60s and '70s."
And, much like the team of stylists, designers, and engineers that brought the Corvette forward in time with the C2 and C3 did, the ZX-1 was created in the "old school" manner. "We designed the car from scratch," Karl says. "We penciled all the designs, we clay-modeled it on the Corvette to make sure everything worked right, the same way GM does today. From there, we went to refining it, and then we went to molds. If we didn't like something, we could tweak or change it right away."
The roof is styled like those on the '68-'77 Sharks, but with elongated "flying buttress"
There's more to the ZX-1 you see here than those eye-grabbing body panels covered with Concours-quality paint-much more. The engine bay and chassis get their fair share of attention, with custom billet HRE wheels and Nitto tires at each corner, plus carbon fiber injector covers on the LS-series engine and custom exhaust tips out back, expertly styled to go with the high-zoot bodywork. Inside, luxury items abound. "With the standard package, we give everybody an upgrade to the racing steering wheel, the leather shifter and emergency-brake boots, and floor mats," Karl says. "Then, if you want to get the full-exotic interior, you get one made to the same standard as Ferrari and Maserari. The same coachbuilder that does remodeling work on those cars does that interior for us, also. So we use the same Alcantara suede and Ferrari leather, so you have that same feel when you sit in the car. You feel like you're sitting in a $300,000 exotic."
Are there other options? Yes-plenty of them, inside and out. The ZX-1 you see here is graced by a set of Sparco race bucket seats (Corbeau and Recaro seats are also available) wrapped in Alcantra suede and Ferrari leather, as is the rest of the cabin. Under the hood, there's a Magnuson supercharger whose eight pounds of boost bumps the LS2 engine (in this '07-derived ZX-1) up well over 600 horsepower, with a special long-tube header/X-pipe exhaust system available for even more power. At each corner is a Pfadt adjustable coilover with Pfadt sway bars at each end, and there are huge Baer discs all around (with Brembos optional).