A Greenwood Themed Corvette C3 to Make Purists Cringe
Everybody has a dream car, whether it be a wild exotic like a Lamborghini or a vintage muscle car. Putting posters on the garage wall, die casts on the shelf, Revell plastic model building, doing anything that gets us closer to living the dream. Reading every magazine article (for those of us that still remember print) and memorizing every option and accessory available all in the hopes that that knowledge might somehow get used someday in the future.
In the case of Jeff Lufter the dream car was a C3 Chevy Corvette in white. And it was a long road to building his dream. He has always been an active motorsports enthusiast and grew up watching Trans-Am racing in the '70's and was fascinated by the dominance of the Burt and John Greenwood Corvettes from the day. Especially John Greenwood when he raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. "As soon as I saw that crazy bodied C3 'Vette of Greenwood's featured in the motorsports magazines I was hooked. I knew then that someday I would build a C3 with the street version of the Greenwood Daytona kit."
It took a while to get there, though, as life invariably gets in the way. Jeff did have a 1980 'Vette early on but it had to be sold in order to buy a house (life gets in the way). He dabbled with a late 80's Monte Carlo SS, tinkering and growing his skill set of modifying cars. He was also distracted by racing quads, but quad racing is known as a young person's game. And upon that realization, he decided to sell off the toys to finally focus on obtaining his dream car.
In 2007 Jeff made his first step to realizing his dream car. Knowing it would be nigh on impossible to find a true Greenwood Corvette he decided to build one, and build it his way. He found not one, but two 1980 C3 Corvettes in central Wisconsin on the same day and only minutes from each other. The first one was a bit of a disappointment and was heavily damaged but that owner knew of another C3 for sale just down the road. The second was love at first sight. It was white, had spares and all the original parts ,and it ran. He put down cash to hold it and drove it home the next day.
After decades of dreaming and planning his build he knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish: a Greenwood Daytona body with modern twists.
A Rare Body
The front half of the car features a Daytona vented hood, designed by Greenwood and produced by Eckler's. The same is true of the front bumper and fenders. The rear body work is based on the Sebring street version that Greenwood gave permission to Eckler's to manufacture. But this is where things get a bit creative. Instead of leaving things period correct, Jeff decided to go the bold route and have his body shop mold the body together. This meant that the 3-piece front bumper, fenders, side skirts, and rear are all smoothed and blended together into one piece. The length of the front overhang makes that of a Lamborghini look mild in comparison with curves that make pinup models jealous. The whole body was then sprayed a custom blended pearl white that is almost impossible to photo without losing some of the subtle blue in the pearl.
But he didn't stop there. Instead of keeping the pop-up headlights he installed recessed headlights, color matched to the body and then had Perf.des fabricate lexan covers to keep a streamlined look similar to what was found on the C3 Le Mans cars.
"I wanted to infuse modern car design details such as carbon fiber, modern hardware, and other details into the build while we refinished some of the older parts." Some of the Daytona parts hadn't aged well on the shelf, and were brought back to life by Perf.des with some modern treatments.
The windshield cowl was remade in carbon fiber with a bit of custom paint in matte clear. The underside of the hood also needed attention considering that it was decades old. The underside was smoothed, repaired and finished in carbon fiber with a C3R logo airbrushed under the matte clear.
Jeff ran a custom made center exhaust to mimic the rear of the C7 and paired that with custom formed side exhaust cut outs. The side cut outs are shaped like what is found on oval track stock cars and Nascar systems. This opened up the areas behind the rear wheels, making the rear into a huge parachute. Jeff solved this by having a custom carbon fiber diffuser made by Perf.des that smoothes out the air exiting the underside of the car.
Rubber Meets the Road
Jeff didn't want to go full track mode on the suspension because he uses the car for cruising, shows and occasional track days. The current suspension features Bilstein shocks with 480lb coil springs up front and 400lb main spring in the rear. All of the arms have been upgraded to polyurethane bushings from Energy Suspension. And, all of those bushings are paired with heim joint ends for adjustability. Sway bars are from Addco and are a massive 1.5" in diameter.
A huge upgrade was the Wilwood disc brake conversion on all four corners. This allowed Jeff to experiment with different brake pads before he discovered the Hawk HP+ pads he is currently running. The brake kit sits behind 17"x9.5" American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels finished in black chrome. The wheels are wrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 255/45 R17 tires and provide tons of grip. "Swapping to the Nitto's was the single most effective suspension upgrade I did on the car," Jeff said.
The interior is still the original 1980 dark blue and black which will be redone this winter with leather and blue stitching. The seats are Corbeau reclinables and Corbeau 3" harnesses. The harnesses are connected to a "Shark Bar" which serves as a body brace and a harness bar.
The dash has been upgraded to a digital dash from Dakota which matches the black and blue of the Kenwood system.
The car still has its original V8 upgraded with American Racing long tube headers and Magnaflow mufflers. The aforementioned cutouts are deafeningly awesome when opened up. This is paired up to the original 4speed automatic. At the time of writing, Jeff had just ordered a new GM crate motor: the 776 deluxe which is 500hp out of the box. Along with it comes a full Holley fuel injection system. It was ordered with a 4LE-60 transmission. Jeff is also considering a QA-1 carbon drive shaft since everything will be out anyway.
Built to Fit One Man's Vision
Jeff's C3 is constantly evolving and will never be "completely finished". "Half the fun of having my dream car is changing it as I see fit. I built it solely for me to enjoy, not what some purist thinks it should have been." As he does more track days he plans on switching to coil-overs and Nitto NT05 tires to fully utilize the new engine.
This 'Vette is an effective blend of old and new combined with a bit of hot rod and tuner. It is surprising and refreshing to see a car representing the legacy of John Greenwood outfitted with subtle upgrades from other genres. Perhaps why it works so well is because it is exactly same build qualities Greenwood was using in the 1970's.
|Location:||Lake Mills, Wisconsin|
|Vehicle:||1980 Corvette C3|
|Engine:||L-82 350 V8|
|Suspension:||Addco sway bar;, Bilstein shocks; Swift front springs; Energy Suspension bushings; Eckler arms|
|Wheels & Tires:||17x9.5" American Racing wheels in black chrome; Nitto NT555 G2 255/55 R17s|
|Brakes:||Wilwood 4 piston fronts, 2 piston rears|
|Exterior:||Greenwood Daytona hood and front; Greenwood Sebring sides and rear; custom pearl white paint; carbon fiber rear diffuser; carbon fiber cowl; blended body work|
|Interior:||Corbeau seats and harnesses; Shark bar; Kenwood stereo (with working cassette tape player); Dakota digital dash|
|Special Thanks:||Lufter would like to thank the following for all their support: his parents, Danny Theissen, Nick Schultz, BCC car club, and Perf.des|