The C6 Corvette is a fine-looking piece of machinery, no question there. But we’ve rarely met a Corvette owner who didn’t feel the urge to personalize their car.
One of the most popular upgrades is larger wheels and tires, typically done for both aesthetics and enhanced grip. It is necessary, too, when trying to put more power to the ground than the factory originally offered. And these days, with the ease at which LS2 and LS3 performance can be exponentially increased, outstripping the traction capability of the stock treads is all too easy.
Problem is, stuffing wider rubber under the stock rear fenders of a C6 isn’t very easy. The wheel offset, axle width and fender-to-tire relationship conspire against all but marginally wider tires (stock width is 10 inches). However, the grippy benefits of 12-inch-wide tires are enabled by Specter Werkes/Sports’ rear fender flare kit. They are part of the company’s Group 6 collection and extend the lip of the rear fender, while also providing adequate clearance for 12-inch treads. The flares also give the minimalist lines of the Corvette some appreciated bulges – like muscles straining against a tight T-shirt.
The kit lists for $590 includes the ready-to-paint flares, inner fender liner extenders (which replace the stock liners) and the hardware. There is some surgery involved with adding the flares, including trimming the rear fender sheet metal in order to provide the necessary clearance for the tires’ travel within the widened housings. A competent body shop would have no problem performed the procedure and more experienced do-it-yourselfers could perform the task, although some professional materials are required to affix the flares to the fenders – not the sort of stuff they have down at the local auto parts store.
That said, the installation procedure is relatively straightforward and we’ve outlined the basic steps in the accompanying photos. It took less than half a day to complete (after receiving the parts from the paint shop). A caveat, however: Matching the factory paint on the flares can be challenging, even for experienced body shops, so make sure whoever is performing the installation holds up the painted flares to the body prior to beginning the installation. You don’t want to find out after the flares are bonded to the fenders that they’re a shade off in color.
Also, on our project, the flares were color sanded after painting, giving them a super-smooth and glossy appearance. Unfortunately the factory finish of the car wasn’t quite as good. From some lighting angles, the orange peel of the rest of the body really stood out against the flawless flares. Our advice: Unless you’re going to have the entire car color sanded, tell the painters to lay off on color sanding the flares. You’ll end up with a more-consistent finish between them and the body.
When finished on our project car, the flares were filled out with 335/30-series 20-inch rear tires, mounted on black HRE wheels. The aggressive wheel/tire combination combined with the flares changed the stance and attitude of the car, giving it the look of a track-ready competitor.
Rear Spoiler Installation
While fitting the Group 6 flares on our blue C6 project car, Specter also added their rear spoiler. Like the flares, it comes ready to paint and is even easier to install than the flares. Essentially, mounting holes are drilled into the top of the rear fascia and the spoiler is affixed with a combination of bolts and adhesive tape. For those who think the Corvette looks a little too chopped off at the tail, this subtle yet effective lip spoiler gives the rear fascia some much-appreciated flair, too.
Like the advice with the flares, care should be taken to ensure the spoiler’s color and finish match the rest of the body. The spoiler is tall enough to attract attention, but does not impede rearward vision. It’s a “just right” accent to the Corvette and complements the implied muscle of the fender flares.
SPECTER WERKES NEW GTR
In the late 1990s, Corvette tuner, racer and car designer Jeff Nowicki created the first series of unique Corvette GTR models through his business, Specter Werkes/Sports. They were based on the C5 and in addition to the requisite performance upgrades, were known for their signature wide-body styling. Only 29 numbered examples were built – including cars for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Jr.
After the C5 went away, Specter continued catering to high-performance Corvette enthusiasts, with a slew of “Matrix” engine packages and “Group 6” exterior components. But the itch to do another GTR never went away and Nowicki committed to the project earlier this year. Like the C5 version, the C6 GTR will wear wider bodywork, but with more aggressive, racing-inspired details. (Not one for extraneous scoops and wings, Nowicki’s C5 GTR body design was wider, but it was essentially an extension of the stock form, making it almost too subtle.)
At a recent preview, we got a look at the new model as its bodywork was being shaped in clay over what will become the first production C6 GTR. Nowicki’s development process owes everything to his design background, which includes a stint at GM’s design center and ongoing prototype work for the auto industry. Although the design was far from finalized, the basic elements of the new GTR were in place and we liked what we saw.
The car’s new exterior elements complement the core Corvette form, but give it drama and a decided sense of speed. The fenders are wider, too, about four inches at the rear and two inches up front. We were particularly taken with the redesigned front fascia, which juts confidently out into the wind, and the heat extractor-type hood treatment. Nowicki says the production model will wear new a headlight treatment, unique tail lamps and even a bolder, LED-lit rear center stop lamp “borrowed” from the new Cadillac CTS.
Nowicki tells us the other elements of the GTR will include:
• Unique GTR bodywork, including: front fascia, carbon fiber splitter, extractor hood, front fenders, doors, rocker panels, rear fenders, rear fascia, carbon fiber rear diffuser, Cleartastic paint protection, paint and assembly.
• Michelin Pilot Sport 2 Tires
• Forgeline or HRE wheels; 19-inch in the front and 20-inch in the rear
• Carbon fiber fuel rail covers and carbon fiber, low-restriction air box
• Hotchkis stabilizer bar kit
• GTR-embroidered seats and serial-numbered dash plaque
• Stainless steel performance exhaust system
• GTR badges
A bunch of powertrain packages will be available, too, and we’re told the basic GTR package will carry a base price of $34,995 – that is, of course, in addition to the cost of a C6 Vette. The engine upgrades will be extra. We plan to flog one as soon as possible.
Nowicki says the production examples will be ready probably by the time you’re reading this and that the GTR package will be available on all production Corvettes, including coupes, convertibles and even the new ZR1. Indeed, a ZR1-based GTR would make for a seriously exclusive Corvette – start saving your nickels and dimes now!
For more information, go to www.spectergtr.com or call 248-583-9559.