Bitchin' Build: An Autocrossing Jeep (?!) With the Heart of a Corvette

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

The wheelbase of a 2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is 104.5 inches. The wheelbase of a Jeep CJ-6 is 103.5 inches. Other than winning trivia night at the weirdest bar around, having that sort of knowledge isn’t typically useful. But for Texas enthusiast David Whitener, it yielded an incredibly weird and impossibly cool track toy, and it’s now up for auction at

I’m not sure I’m brave enough or outgoing enough to drive this, but dropping 700 pounds from a C5-generation Z06 has to make it frighteningly quick.

Starting with a crunched 2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Whitener realized that he had a perfect base for a barely-street-legal go kart in the mold of the Exocet or Ariel Atom — but with proper Chevrolet LS power. He was inspired by this Jeepster, similarly built.

There was some fabrication involved (see photos) in putting the classic Jeep body and grille on the Corvette chassis. Thankfully, due to the improved power-to-weight ratio, a proper roll structure has been added for safety. Forward roll hoop supports may be needed for wheel-to-wheel racing, however, though we can’t think of any sanctioned racing series where this Frankenstein would fit.

Really, it’s an incredible toy that will draw gasps and joy at any track day or autocross. I gather that it may no longer be “Trail Rated.”

Check out that suspension articulation!

Whitener added custom-valved Bilstein monotube shocks tuned for the significantly-lower weight of this creation. Further, he added the larger brakes from the C6-generation of Corvette Z06, as well as headers, intake, and exhaust tuning for the small-block.

Whitener tells me that driving his creation is an experience unlike any other. “It draws an INSANE amount of attention. People will randomly U-turn in the middle of the road to follow me around. Pretty much 100 percent of the time someone will be tailgating me, taking pictures. All manner of weirdos want to have long conversations at gas stations. And the weirdest are Jeep people who will chase me down and flip me off.”

Heck. I’d be okay getting flipped off by some Jeep people.

Someone among the Best & Brightest needs this, I’m sure of it. Let us know in the comments if you’re planning on bidding on it. The auction ends in six days. Click here to bid!

[Autocrossing images © Robert Kirby/ Lightspeed Images. All other images © David Whitener]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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2 of 7 comments
  • Ko1 Ko1 on Nov 14, 2018

    I'd say he got his inspiration from Motortrend's 'Vette Kart more than anything.

  • OzCop OzCop on Nov 15, 2018

    A friend of mine in Roanoke, TX built and owns that Jeep. I watched it as it progressed and David quite meticulous when it comes to building autocross cars. This thing is pretty awesome, and it looks the part driving down the highway. It is actually licensed for the street.

  • IBx1 Everyone in the working class (if you’re not in the obscenely wealthy capital class and you perform work for money you’re working class) should unionize.
  • Jrhurren Legend
  • Ltcmgm78 Imagine the feeling of fulfillment he must have when he looks upon all the improvements to the Corvette over time!
  • ToolGuy "The car is the eye in my head and I have never spared money on it, no less, it is not new and is over 30 years old."• Translation please?(Theories: written by AI; written by an engineer lol)
  • Ltcmgm78 It depends on whether or not the union is a help or a hindrance to the manufacturer and workers. A union isn't needed if the manufacturer takes care of its workers.