Freezing temperatures, bleak skies, and two inches of fresh snow are sound reasons to evacuate Michigan in early March. That is, unless the coolest remix of the Motor City's greatest hits is in town with its top stowed. Then you slip on your mittens and wait for the plows to pass to see what this crazy-quilt convertible is all about.
The 789 fender badge tells all: a 1957 Chevy's face artfully grafted to a '58 Impala's middle and a '59 Chevy's bat-wing tail. N2A Motors of Santa Ana, California, builds this $135,000 FrankenChevy, although the concept behind it germinated on the opposite coast. Fred Kanter, N2A's chairman, recalls: "Three years ago, my friend George Kerbeck, owner of the Chevy dealership in Atlantic City, had a brainstorm. He was going to have his body shop cut and weld parts from 1957 through '59 Chevrolets to create the ultimate 1950s icon. Those three cars are striking, and this was the only time in history when three successive model year Chevys were each unique designs.
"I asked George for thirty minutes to improve on his inspiration. A quick call to Terrence Robinson at the Kanter Concepts studio [now the home of N2A Motors] produced a sketch returned by fax. Kerbeck deemed our design better than what he had in mind, so we decided to build it. Using Corvette underpinnings was the logical approach, because it's the world's best performance value, and its spaceframe construction fits our needs perfectly."
Two years passed before Kanter's design shop was able to advance the 789 beyond a sketch. Its turn finally came with a coming-out party at last fall's SEMA show. Kanter's crew had peeled the body panels off a new Corvette. After filling voids with plywood, the exterior was plastered with modeling clay. The sculpting, smoothing, digitizing, and mold making consumed fourteen weeks. The resulting show car, which we drove around Detroit's Belle Isle, wears the first carbon-fiber panels used to cast the production molds. The bright trim that sweeps down the sides and along the trailing edges of the bat wings is chrome-plated brass shaped by a CNC milling machine, although production models will use chrome-plated fiberglass moldings. The 789 is about 150 pounds heavier than a stock Corvette, since it's four inches wider and its back end is stretched by eleven inches. Kanter adds stiffer antiroll bars to help control the extra weight.