Goodguys 2023 Chevrolet Performance GM Iron Builder of the Year – Hot Rod Garage!
Congratulations to Jason Smith for winning the Goodguys 2023 Chevrolet Performance GM Iron Builder of the Year title with a 427 LS-powered 1963 Corvette built by Hot Rod Garage! We’ll see you and the vehicle in Scottsdale, Arizona November 17-19, 2023 at the 26th Speedway Motors Southwest Nationals!
The 1963 Corvette has long been considered a landmark in American automotive design. The long and sleek Sting Ray design ushered in an exciting new era for the American Sportscar, with hideaway headlights, shapely fenders, and the distinctive split rear window on the all-new coupe design. It’s a highly desired model by enthusiasts, including Casey Shires.
Casey has a good friend that collects Corvettes who finally agreed to sell him a ’63 coupe. It was running and driving, but an older amateur restoration. Casey liked it but wanted more in the way of a modern driveline, suspension, and accessories. After a false start, he found Jason Smith and the team at Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.
Jason and Casey talked things over and developed a few plans for the Vette, and then got with Eric Black to develop a C2 with Italian nuances pulled from vintage Ferraris and other European sports cars. Casey loved the idea and let HRG run with the plan.
To cover the modern suspension requirements, a FastTrack chassis from Roadster Shop was ordered, complete with an IRS and Baer 14-inch brakes. A Chevrolet Performance 427c.i. LS engine from Don Hardy was chosen with a six-speed transmission and McLeod clutch to handle the engine’s 620 horsepower. A trick Edelbrock crossram intake, fed by dual throttle bodies, adds a flare of Ferrari under the hood, one which continues into the cabin.
The first thing you notice about the dash is its form and extra spacing of the one-off Dakota Digital gauges. Then you realize that the customary Corvette waterfall cluster was removed. This feature alone opens up the interior, providing more room for the custom console and for formed low-back bucket seats stitched by Chuck Rowland. Vintage Air and power windows add a touch of luxury and note the Nardi Torino steering wheel, common in vintage Italian sportscars.
The body lines of a C2 can’t get much sexier, but the HRG crew sharpened its curves, filled the cowl and B-pillar vents, and modified the hood and fender scoops. The bumpers were thinned down 1.5-inch and moved closer to the body while the dual exhaust meets in the center under the custom rear pan. The color, PPG Grizzio Alloy, is complemented by unique Eric Black-designed knock-off wheels.
Casey is overwhelmed out how perfect his dream car turned out and wanted to thank the entire crew at Hot Rod Garage, Eric Black, Jason Norberg, Atomic Machine, Chuck Rowland Interiors and Jon Wright for the chrome work. A split window Vette is an amazing car to have, and thanks to HRG, Casey’s is a step above.
Photos by John Jackson & Damon Lee