Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Fall 2019
						Tampi C7 A12
Conversion Reaction

Ivan Tampi Corvette C7 body kit

Story and Photos by Steve Temple

As much as we love the C7 Corvette Stingray, change is inevitable. The 2020 C8 model, due out this summer, will be a significant change in the history of Corvette design. While it’s the first Corvette to break the mold with a midengine configuration, legendary Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov proposed a similar setup way back in the 1960s.

So what does that mean for the tried-and-true Corvette C7? With a new and improved model in the works, selling the current model year can be difficult. Which likely explains why there’s an excess supply of C7 Corvettes across the U.S. And yet dealers continue ordering them to keep their allocation levels up.

While this swelling inventory can be a problem for dealers, it presents an opportunity for Corvette enthusiasts since supply most likely exceeds demand. When General Motors does roll out the new midengine, expect a buyer’s market for the remaining C7 Corvette models sitting on dealer lots — get ready to wheel and deal.

Which leads us to a time-honored approach for project car enthusiasts. How do you make yesterday’s model look like the latest and greatest? That’s where Ivan Tampi’s XIK wide-body kit comes in. The initials are a play on the expression “It’s sick,” and the massive, bulging fenders make an impressive visual statement, as do a number of upgrades to the exterior, with extensive use of carbon fiber. So much so that it’s nearly unrecognizable as a Corvette, with the look of a European exotic — just the thing to give an outgoing model a fresh makeover.

The basic body conversion consists of 15 main components and dozens of smaller ones as well. These include front and rear splitters, along with a variety of vents, overlays and bezels. The interior also has cover pieces for the dash, console and door panels, plus suede-style Alcantara and leather upholstery. A number of additional plastic components were custom-overlaid with carbon fiber by Ivan Tampi Customs, totaling 37 parts in all. His customer, Tony Pechthalt, requested some special additions for this car, including a custom hood and rear wing.

Commenting on the carbon fiber overlays, Ivan admits, “It’s a love-hate situation. I hate making it because it’s messy and a lot of work, but I love the finished product.”

The rolling stock is much meatier than factory as well, with Kompression Wheels Murci Twisted, measuring 20 by 10 inches up front and 21 by 14 in the rear, wrapped with Pirelli rubber (285/25ZR20 fronts and 355/25ZR21 rears). Rolloface Performance’s big brake kit upgrades the look and stopping power of the factory binders.

This increased clench is a welcome addition, considering the enhanced performance of the engine. For a donor car, Tony originally had wanted a Z06 or ZR1, but he ended up buying a base model in February of 2017 with the idea of using a power adder. Forced induction comes in the form of a Vortech centrifugal supercharger from A&A Corvette, with additional tuning by Xcelerate Street Performance and machine work by Paragon Engines.

Keeping pace with the supercharged airflow proved to be a bit of a challenge for fuel delivery, requiring the addition of two more pumps, larger injectors and the LT4 fuel system. While the body and interior mods went on in fairly short order, achieving 700 hp has involved some extra effort. For Tony 1,000 hp isn’t out of the question here, but 700 is plenty for now, as long as it’s in the same league as his much pricier Lamborghini Aventador. Which helps to explain Tony’s enthusiastic reaction to the Euro flavor of the XIK’s styling when he first spotted it at a car show. “Ivan has a bent toward Lamborghinis like me, and I wanted that exotic look — but with American muscle.”

But Ivan didn’t come by these eye-catching Corvette mods easily. He gained skills through experience, and has been muscling up a wide variety of cars for more than two decades. Self-taught in automotive design, as well as in composite technology and fabrication, he started out in the mid- 1990s by creating body mods for the Honda Civic and later the Ford Mustang.

When Ivan shifted his attention to the Ford Mustang market, his company Ground Designs 2000 grew rapidly. Ford execs were so impressed by Ivan’s creativity that they provided him with two vehicles, a Focus and F-150, on which to create a body conversion designs in order to promote the company’s latest models. His Ford Focus design went on to win Ford Choice Awards at the SEMA Show in 2003.

Despite his design achievements, Ivan had to take a business hiatus for several years and pursued another venture in the fashion industry. But his passion for automotive style didn’t die, and he later came back with a vengeance.

In the summer of 2013 he completed his wide-body kit design for the BMW Z4 and debuted it at the 2014 SEMA Show. Although it didn’t do as well as he hoped, he realized the upcoming 2014 Corvette C7 was the hot ticket — no surprise there. While walking the SEMA convention, he took note of the Corvette feature vehicles with wide-body kits and said to himself, “This is right up my alley — it’s what I’m known for!”

From the get-go, Ivan’s concept was to make a sports car look like a supercar. The approach was simple, yet effective; go wider, specifically in the rear, which is 8 inches broader than stock, and the front has 4 inches more breadth.

To produce the conversion in less than a month, he had to take his fabricating skills to a whole new level. Ivan made his carbon fiber components with a much higher degree of accuracy and precision, employing 3D scanning, computer-aided design and a five-axis milling machine.

“This approach definitely beats those days when I used to make everything in templates by hand,” he points out, “and it makes all our parts more precise and accurate.”

The first car was completed just in time for the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and was met with such a strong response that he went on to build a number of personalized variations to meet customer demand. For instance, Tony specified a custom hue from BASF R-M. “That emerald green is an expensive, unique color, and a tribute to my father’s Ford truck,” he notes. In addition, to carry that visual theme into the interior, emerald green stitching accents the charcoal Alcantara suede.

Some might feel that modifying a Corvette borders on disrespect for the design, if not outright sacrilege. Note, however, what one GM exec observed: “Nearly every Corvette is customized in some way.” Some more than others, of course, depending on the owner’s whims and sense of artistic expression — and also its provenance. For instance, a rare collectible shouldn’t be tampered with at all.

But what about embellishing a standard production offering? There’s nothing wrong with making a dramatic visual statement, personalizing a solid performer to the nth degree.

That perspective, and how quickly Ivan tackled the C7 project back in 2014, leads to an obvious consideration. Just what sort of reaction he’ll get for his body conversion on the new mid-engine C8, as it’s already in the works.

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