YouTuber Westen Champlin doesn’t split his awesome builds into a dozen videos and he certainly doesn’t beat around the bush. When he sees somebody selling a 1999 Corvette off-roader with 33-inch tires, he just goes ahead and buys it.
Everybody loves the Corvette. It’s been around since the early 1950s and is easily one of the most important sports cars in the world. The fact that it always comes with a big American V8s is always a bonus (except in 53 and 54). But as Westen puts it, you can’t drive a Vette everywhere.
“I have always wanted a Corvette but the problem is I don’t really live in an area where Corvettes really work very well. It’s kind of just gravel roads, fields, and off-road areas,” the YouTuber says.
The car he found blew up back in August after being listed on Facebook Marketplace. It’s a shocking thing to look at, a C5 variety of Chevy Corvette, a 1999 model with black everything and a removable top, riding around on massive wheels.
How big are they? Well, the rear end now sports 33-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler tires. They’re from a Jeep Wrangler, but would be about the right size for a Bronco or F-150 too. Westen loves that little bit of rake this Vette has thanks to the front wheels being smaller: 31 inches.
The story is that the off-road Corvette was originally equipped with rubber blocks under the stock suspension, but this MacGyver layout didn’t allow the car to steer properly. So instead he opted for a set of adjustable red shock coilovers. The fenders obviously had to be cut, accommodating the extra rubber, and universal fender flares protect from at least some of the rocks this thing kicks up. Thank god fiberglass doesn’t rust!
Affordable redneck Porsche 911 Safari
How much did it cost? The video doesn’t say, but we know it was listed on Marketplace for $8,500. That’s a relative bargain considering how many views this will get and how much fun you can have.
Other than that, it’s a pretty normal 1999 C5 Corvette, if you can call it that. While it may not be the most powerful V8 in the world, the 5.7-liter LS1 pumps out 345 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, sent to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual. That’s decent get-up-and-go for a 3,200-pound car. Stock, this would have done 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds and the quarter-mile in about 13.3 seconds.
We mention this because Westen Champlin likes to take his crazier cars to the local drag strip. However, there’s no denying this C5 is better suited to the dirt strip instead. The pre-purchase test drive features a bit of burnout and off-roading action. Nothing quite like a Vette with “15 or 16 inches of ground clearance,” at least according to the builder, who’s now lifting a C6 and has previously done a C4 as well.
Speaking of things that are or aren’t like this off-roader, people seem to think lifting a Corvette is a bit redness. That might work for Westen’s channel and sales of his “Redneck Science” merch, but it’s actually unfair. Why is a lifted Porsche 911 seen as a classy “Safari”, but not this? Motorsport heritage, obviously.
If you’re old enough, you might remember another iconic American sports car that also went off-road. In the 1990s, there was a TV show called “Viper” where a police department had a “Viper Defender” pursuit vehicle that could lift itself at the push of a button. It’s at the bottom of the story if you want to watch and reminisce.