Andy Williamson became obsessed with cool cars as a teenager, and he’s been designing and building his own high-end performance vehicles for 25 years. Predictably, the moment the North Carolina–based marketing maven laid eyes on Chevy’s seventh-generation Corvette, he began thinking about modifying one. “I wanted to design a youthful take on this platform,” he says. “Something that would be classic and timeless, yet menacing and fast looking.”
At first, Williamson spent a lot of time simply staring at his brand-new 2016 Z51 Stingray and thinking about a wide range of outside design influences for inspiration. One overriding goal was to create a look that would get people who loved European cars to stop and take notice. To that end, he and the team at Theory Communication & Design, his creative- and media-services agency, decided to follow a club-racer motif.
“The Stingray is very capable as a stock machine,” Williamson opines, “but we wanted to beef it up a little bit with some modifications that mimic the…Corvette C7.R. We thought that if we could apply certain themes from that vehicle, and even some hot-rod flair, we could end up with a machine that looked incredible and performed as well as it looked.”
Since he knew the car would see some track time, Williamson ordered his Torch Red Stingray from Detroit dealer Ed Rinke Chevrolet with the Z51 Performance Package. Intended to gird the C7 for the rigors of competition use, this $5,000 option adds 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, a dry-sump oiling system, an electronic limited-slip differential, enhanced brakes with slotted rotors all around (the front units are also larger than on the base car), track-tuned suspension bits and a subtle aerodynamics package that reduces lift and improves high-speed stability. Though it doesn’t add any power to the LT1 engine’s 455-horsepower tally (460 with the optional dual-mode exhaust), RPO Z51 does feature shorter gear ratios throughout the drivetrain to improve throttle response and acceleration.
Though focused primarily on performance, Williamson and his co-conspirators didn’t ignore comfort when running down the order form. “We opted for the 2LT trim level, which is…equipped with a color-keyed console
and door armrests, heated and vented seats, Bose premium audio, head-up display,
navigation…and Performance Traction Management, among other things. We also [purchased] the Competition Seats. Never in our lives did we think driving a Corvette would be so comfortable.”