There is no doubt that as factory delivered our beloved C3 Corvettes have their limitations. This is particularly true when comparisons are made with some of their modern competition. We can certainly lay claim that the C3's gorgeous body lines leave nothing to be desired when making these comparisons, but when comparing some mechanical specifications we can definitely count some disadvantages. Modern sports cars come with the technology of the modern age built in, but as enthusiasts we can often modify our machines to bring the specifications up to those of contemporary cars. Items like aftermarket suspensions, overdrive transmissions, or high performance engines with fuel injection will help bring a C3 up to or even above the standards of most any modern machine.
One area where our cars have a distinct disadvantage that is not so easy to overcome is in tire size. The huge meats of today simply did not exist when our vehicles were conceived, and the body designs were sized to accommodate the tires of the day. For practical purposes, a tire size of 255-60-R15 is about all a stock Corvette can comfortably handle. By upsizing the rim to 17-inch or larger, and optimizing the wheel offset and fit to the inside of the body, tires as wide as 270mm can sometime be accommodated. However, even a 275 is rather narrow compared to what is often seen on today's purpose-build sports cars.
With available space to the inside fully used up, the only place left to go in seeking wider rubber it to move outwards. While wide rubber is nice to have, a vehicle that is jacked-up with the meats hanging outside the fender line is a poor solution. The requirement if looking to go this route is one well traveled for C3 fans-the fender flare. There are all manner of flares that have been used on the C3 body, from the factory L-88 flares, commonly available as reproductions, to the outlandish Greenwood body kits used in the 1970's. The idea was the same-to create more tire clearance.
We wanted to take advantage of the added clearance of a set of flares for our project '76 Stingray, but we wanted a subtle approach, keeping the original design theme of our car, but in exaggerated form. What this entailed for us was to do as many have done in the past, create a set of custom flares. Our design retained the factory fender lips, and you cannot be more true to the original lines of the car than that. Our custom fender lay-up resulted in an additional 1.25-inches available width, which equates to 37mm of extra tire clearance. Taking a base of 275mm for a fully optimized tire fitment in a stock vehicle, the extra clearance should allow between a 295-305mm tire to be installed, and that is plenty for our purposes.
|Difficulty Index - 5 Wrenches|
|Anyone's Project: no tools required||1 Wrench|
|Beginner: basic tools||2 Wrenches|
|Experienced: special tools||3 Wrenches|
|Accomplished: special tools and outside help||4 Wrenches|
|Professionals Only: send this work out||5 Wrenches|