Mich. company gives Corvettes custom bite

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

In 2001, Chevrolet unveiled a concept version of its Corvette. Dubbed the Tiger Shark, it was basically a souped-up (700-plus horsepower) fifth-generation sports car with a revised nose and tail treatment.

The car took its name, it seems, in part from its PPG Tiger Yellow paint, in part from the heritage of aquatic concept vehicles, for example, Sting Ray and Mako Shark.

The concept was popular — the original Tiger Shark concept car sold for $112,000 in 2009 at the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction in Arizona — and Tiger Shark nose and tail panels became available through aftermarket channels so Corvette owners could customize their own cars. Several did, especially those who were racing their cars, but couldn’t find replacement parts after on-track mishaps.

But now, thanks to IVS, which is short for Innovative Vehicle Solutions of Redford, Tiger Shark kits are available again — for the road or the track — and so are similar pieces should you want to customize a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro.

IVS is based at Detroit Deluxe Paint & Body (and now doing complete vehicle restorations as well) on Telegraph Road. The businesses are owned by Jim Jackson and Paul Elizondo.

Jackson is a native of Birmingham who graduated with a marketing degree from Michigan State and went into sports and event marketing in Milwaukee, where he developed an interest in cars when he was helping to promote NASCAR stock car races. He also worked in banking and sales but wanted to come home and discovered IVS was available. So he bought it.

About the same time, Elizondo was looking to start his own business after several years of doing specialized vehicle painting at Alternative Automotive Technologies in Troy. He started Detroit Deluxe.

The shop’s work has been so good that it was commissioned to do 100 customized Mustangs for Nieman Marcus’ Christmas catalog, painted a Ford pickup that was being given to Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, and in six weeks turned a 1998 Corvette found in a junk yard into a showpiece for the relaunch of the Tiger Shark kit at the recent Bloomington Gold national Corvette gathering.

Mainly to do something different that might draw more attention, Jackson and Elizondo painted their car in a matte-finish gray color.

“A lot of the older Corvette generation wanted to touch it, thought it was going to have a rough surface,” Jackson said. “The younger generation just thought the kit and the paint were great.”

The kit, which comes primed (or you can have it painted and even installed at Detroit Deluxe), includes three pieces: a front fascia with integrated brake cooling ducts, a front chin spoiler and a rear fascia with integrated spoiler. The front kits are available in two versions — with or without provision for fog lamps — and the rear fascia is designed for use with an aftermarket cat-back exhaust system.

All three pieces are $2,000 or less (depending on the need to incorporate fog lamps).

Doug Fehan, well-known among Corvette enthusiasts through motorsports, said the Tiger Shark kit is one of the best OEM-quality aftermarket options he’s seen.

“This Corvette Tiger Shark kit not only has great lines, but is extremely high-quality and fits just like an OEM body part,” Fehan said in an email exchange with The Detroit News. “For C5 owners who would like to make a classic enhancement to their current car, this Tiger Shark Body Kit is a great option. They can install this OEM-quality kit, add a new paint detail and essentially have what will appear to their friends to be a completely new and very contemporary Corvette.”

The kits are designed for fifth-generation Corvettes (1997-2004 model years). IVS also sells custom Tiger Shark seats by Katzkin and three special wheel designs as well. A special Tiger Shark hood, produced by Starcraft, also is available.

Jackson said a similar styling kit is in development for the current Camaro and IVS wants to do kits for pickups as well.

For more information, visit the www.tigersharkvette.com website.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.