As cool as the rides from the '50s and '60s are, their factory performance is downright prehistoric compared to modern musclecars. But the problem with modern cars is that all of that high-tech performance engineering is wrapped inside a cookie-cutter shell lacking the soul and personality of our favorite classics. So what's a hot rodder to do? If you're Kanter Concepts, the choice is simple: blend the best aspects of then and now into one kick-ass package. Though the idea seemed simple, the task itself was anything but.

Rather than updating a nearly 50-year-old ride, Kanter decided it would be smarter to infuse a modern platform with classic style. To pull off such automotive DNA manipulation, Kanter Concepts spun off a division called N2A Motors, which stands for "no two alike." N2A set about the task, and soon a concept rendering of the "789" sat seductively on the drawing board. According to Gene Langmesser, president of Kanter Concepts and N2A Motors, "the name is derived from the three years represented in the overall design. The 'hooded eyes' and chrome grille bar come from the '57 Bel Air, the mid-section and tri-toned interior were inspired by the '58 Impala, and the iconic 'bird in flight' rear tailfins were pulled from the '59 Chevy." The design elements blend so well together that one wonders why GM didn't think of it first. N2A also took a different approach to the actual design of the 789. Instead of rendering the car pixel by pixel in Auto CAD, Designer Terrence Robinson did it the old-fashioned way: he drew it. This allowed them to refine the sensuous curves and sexy features of the 789 without that cold, computer feel.

With the appearance of the 789 nailed down, N2A needed to find the perfect platform to attach it to. Since the goal was to have a car that performed as nicely as it looked, the choice was obvious: the C6 Corvette. Fred Kanter, chairman of Kanter Concepts, tells PHR, "We have taken the world's best value in a performance chassis-the Le Mans-winning Corvette C6-and wrapped it in an iconic selection of American designs." This means that under all those gorgeous body lines lies a 400hp LS2 V-8 and a cutting-edge sports car suspension. It also means that the 789 is not much more difficult to maintain than a typical new Corvette. When dealing with a classic car, even a modernized one, an owner has to work with a host of issues like rarity of parts and the upkeep of custom, one-off systems like the suspension. According to Kanter, the 789 offers the best of both worlds: retro looks with classic styling-and it'll fire up every time you push the start button.

Once the game plan was nailed down, Gene bought a brand-new convertible, and the team stripped the C6 of its body panels. Next, they covered the chassis with plywood and added 1,500 pounds of clay before beginning to sculpt. This way, they were able to blend the various design elements, like the shoulder, where the rear wings flow into the body. Once that was done, they picked the side they liked best, laser scanned it with a coordinate measuring machine, mirrored it, and directed a CNC machine to make a foam master. From the foam master, they made forms for the carbon- composite panels. "At first, we were going to use fiberglass for the panels," says Gene, "but we found it added 350 pounds to the weight of the car. By switching to a carbon fiber composite material, we managed to get that down to only 50 pounds, including all of the added chrome." From start to finish, the prototype 789 took an amazingly short 14 weeks to complete.