Why is it that certain cars seem to be built over and over, only to overpopulate every car show and most car magazines? What makes ’em so popular? One simple answer: charisma and machismo. It’s true. Think of any popular, lusted-after hot rod or muscle car and its great bodylines. They all have a certain style and presence that reaches across the boundaries of differing tastes and just ooze cool.

So what’s a rodder to do when he wants to stand out, but still gather envious stares? Look for something boring and give it a makeoverjust like the phantom ’72 LeMans GT in the paint and body story in this issue. Similar boring cars are cheap and plentiful, and whether you love ’em, or never notice ’em, some hold awesome potential. To spotlight some ripe designs for the rodding, we reached out to a few artists who are well known for their imagination to see what they could envision. The choices vary widely, but one thing they all have in common is that they lack that certain something from the factory that makes them hip. We contend that all they need is the right treatment to put ’em on par with the superstars.

Chevrolet Corvair

Is there any other way to describe this chic little ragtop? Despite slick styling that actually heavily influenced the original Camaro, Corvairs have always remained well off the radar of most rodders. Not because of Ralph Nader really; no, it’s because of the severely anemic and generally leaky rear-mounted, air-cooled flat six-banger. That’s not a problem for this ’Vair, though, which runs an LS1 with LS4 accessories and water pump mated to a Porsche 911type 930 transaxle, thanks to a Crown Corv-8 conversion kit (CorvairCorsa.com).

As for the look that Steve Stanford created, it’s really all in the paint and materials for this deceptively stock-looking rod. The only significant mods are the tasteful louvers in the decklid, which are also mirrored in the rear roll pan. Even the interior is mostly stock, but custom door panels that mimic stock with additional polished stainless trim were created. The seats also get a trim upgrade and are re-covered in elegant tan leather. Poor man’s Porsche? No one will be looking down his or her nose at this Corvair!

From the Imagination of Steve Stanford Stanford Design

Fullsize Chevy

The slab-sided ’69-70 iteration of the fourth-generation Impala has long been shunned by rodders in favor of their more flashy and muscular predecessors. Most nice examples we’ve seen were either stone-stock grandma cars or leaned toward the lowrider persuasion. The formal roofline and blas bodylines are usually considered stumbling blocks to getting these cars on par with more brawny GM offerings like the Chevelle. To make it happen, Steve Stanford decided to once again leave the body alone, but blend elements of ’60s customs and the vaunted ’59 Chevy.

The long, arching flames are paint, but that’s not airbrushed trim; to break up the bland body, Stanford reached back a decade and used the iconic trim from the radically different looking ’59 Impala, as well as its rear-mounted antennae. Surprising how well it works, isn’t it? Dig those pipes! Inspired by Bellflower-style customs, Stanford kept the long, straight chrome tips under the body, but low enough to be seen, and added a subtle trumpet tip.

Getting it low is really the key. Plan on Air Ride from RideTech. Rather than modern large-inch wheels, Stanford went for traditional Supremes with spinners. For rolling stock, he applied whitewalls on modern rubber, but did you happen to notice the rear tire is a drag radial? That’s because there’s a blown LS3 powering this beast. Inside, think 1959 meets 1969 again, with door panels, seats, and steering wheels la ’59, while still retaining the stock dash. For the kill, have the gauges redone in the appropriate style by Redline Gauge Works.

From the Imagination of Steve Stanford Stanford Design