Bob Bertelsen’s “Solar Flare” Corvette
Bob Bertelsen’s “Green Mamba” ’68 Corvette is one of those rare modified C3s that not only goes like a scalded moose, but actually improves the lines of the Mako Shark-derived third-generation car. We were wondering what he had up his sleeve next and now, the wait is over. Dig “Solar Flare,” Bertelsen’s latest creation, this time based on a ’63 C2 roadster.
For those who know Bertelsen’s work, his cars are the farthest thing from trailer queens. The Solar Flare Corvette was built for racing and AutoCross and it will see heavy duty track time. For the Corvette purists out there, relax. Bertelsen is aware of the provenance the C2 Corvette possesses and he tells us, “I didn’t want a numbers-matching car and I didn’t want to upset the Corvette crowd by cutting up a pristine NCRS-type car. So, I found this well-used ’63 Corvette in Long Island, NY and had it shipped to me.”
As you can see from the photos, every exterior surface was touched and the best modern mechanicals were swapped underneath, replacing the ancient factory setup. Solar Flare is now riding on a buffed-up factory frame with Detroit Speed front and rear suspensions, JRi coil-over shocks, Baer 14-inch XTR brakes, and 18x11x5-inch Forgeline wheels all the way around.
The body is combination of fiberglass and carbon fiber with much assistance from modern CAD/CAM and 3D printing. The carbon fiber hardtop (with C3-esque sail panels) is a key element of the build, giving Bertelsen the headroom he needs with his helmet on. Bob even added a truck to haul tools and gear to events. The car also sports a custom front spoiler, wheel flares, and distinctively updated front and rear end styling. The combination of the big meats, wheel flares, and one-of-one carbon fiber top is intimidating, to say the least.
Under the hood is a big, ornery 427c.i. LS V8 built by Scoggin-Dickey using an RHS aluminum block, LS7 heads, an MSD Atomic intake, and Holley EFI controls. Belting out 660hp and 596 lb. ft. of torque, Solar Flare Corvette will do 70mph while still in first gear of the Bowler-prepped Tremec T56, making it a demon on the track.
The interior is where Bertelsen pulled out all the stops. He called Trick Labs Interiors and they built a modern custom dash, door panels, and seats and stitched it up to perfection. Forget about the “praying mantis” driving position of older Corvettes, this cabin is built for a modern race car pilot.
We love the Solar Flare Corvette, Bob! Keep the hits the coming.
Photos by John Jackson, Terry Lysak & Jason Lubken