By all accounts, Chevrolet’s new mid-engine Corvette is an instant hit. It drives great, punching way above its tax bracket. But, and it’s a big but, the C8-generation Corvette is hardly a looker. It’s a little too wannabe Ferrari and not enough standalone icon. If you’ve got enough scratch to pay for the carbon fiber, secretive coachbuilder ARES Design will gladly pitch your ‘Vette’s body panels in the trash and build this wild body atop the mechanical remains.
It’s called the S1 Project, and it’s available in either wedgy coupe or permanently open-top Spyder. Aside from some hard points like the wheel placement and interior layout, the S1 looks nothing like the C8 it’s based on. Right now it’s little more than a rendering, albeit a plausible one, but it looks pretty ace to my eyes. It solves my lone gripe with Bowling Green’s pride, but creates a new one in that it will be extremely expensive.
Having cribbed the chassis and drivetrain from Chevrolet, ARES says it will upfit the standard 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 to pump up the power from its stock 495 horses to a massive 705 NA horsepower in the coupe and an even 700 in the Spyder. They don’t make any claims as to how they’ll do this and maintain natural aspiration, but there are plenty of options out there to hop up a Chevy LT1 V8, so it doesn’t seem all that implausible.
With over 700 ponies under the back deck, ARES claims a 0-60 time of 2.7 seconds. The engine will get a complete mechanical overhaul, because ARES boss (and former Lotus boss) Dany Bahar claims the engine will spin up to 9,000 RPM, which is a couple thousand more than the C8 Corvette is capable of right now. But keep in mind that none of these cars even exist yet, so who knows what the car will do when it is delivered. I can claim that I will build an invisible jet that can go mach 9 with a secret plasma turbine powerplant, but until I demonstrate such a thing, it may as well have been imported from Wonderland.
From a design standpoint, it looks like ARES has taken inspiration from a number of places. The fender vents look very Porsche, while the overall shape has some Pagani to it, with the slumped back end evocative of McLaren’s P1. The rear end itself reminds me of Lotus’ Evija, while the pinched middle seems Ferrari-esque. None of these are bad things to invoque, and in fact are aimed much higher than Corvette’s original design. It looks a little busy, but not perhaps in a bad way.
Twenty-four of each the coupe and the Spyder will be built over the next two years, according to ARES, each selling for a massive $500,000. Of course, half a million is basically nothing these days as people frequently drop multiple millions for something looking as aggressive as this. If you’re the dictator of a small island nation looking to ball on a budget, and you want something that only 47 other people worldwide will own, this is your chance to get something that won’t bust your country’s public fund.
I wonder if I opt to keep the stock 500 horses, could I get a six-figure discount? That seems like it would be enough. Oh, and make mine a Spyder, please and thanks.