On the outskirts of the Automotive Industry’s hometown of Detroit Michigan is a 1972 Chevy Corvette that seems to have it all. Style, quality, and of course, stance. Southgate native, Steve Grybel has spent the last seven years building his “LoVette.” But in reality, Steve has spent his entire life with the car. Steve’s father purchased the 1972 brand new in 73’. He continued to drive it until the wheels threatened to fall right off in 1994. At that point, Steve’s lifelong love affair with customs was relatively matured. He had always planned to rebuild the sports classic for him and his father to enjoy. He has now spent the better part of this decade doing so.
Words: Michael Phillips | Photos: Des Gower
The 72’s chassis remains wholly intact. Some clever modifications to the suspension allow for the vastly improved stance, travel, and ride quality. Originally Steve had no interest in adapting an airride setup to the Vette’. In fact, the idea of airbags never crossed his mind. It was only after three unsuccessful attempts at modifying the rear leaf spring configuration, that Steve turned his attention towards airride. The front uses custom fabricated external shock mounts in conjunction with the OEM control arms. The rear uses custom airbag cups and custom control arms in place of the original transverse spring design. Both the front and back uses a combination of Doetsch Shocks and Air Lift Performance Dominator 2600 airbags. The time spent in properly bagging a model not commonly modified in this way, was exhausting, to say the least. It took countless iterations and measurements to make things fit and function just right. The payoff, however, speaks for itself. Steve’s Corvette captures an altogether unique look with its overtly aggressive fitment.
The wheel and tire combination helps to push the boundaries of the special aesthetic. The Colorado Custom Superior Series “Leadville” is a perfect choice. The tapered 5-spoke spoke design is a period-fitting style that combines with a dramatic step lip. The fully polished wheels measure 17×8-inches, hugging tightly to the inner fender. They are paired with 225/55/17 Dunlop tires in the front and 245/50/17 in the rear. The slight stagger in rubber width allows for the rollers to fully fill the wheel wells when aired out. Between the large gaps of each wheel spoke, drilled and slotted rotors are visible. The factory brake calipers have been smoothed and paint matched. They are paired with stainless steel lines and a CPP master cylinder for a brand-new pedal feel and increased stopping response.
Matched to the CPP master cylinder and chrome-finished wheels is the Chevy 355 V8. The small block utilizes a custom cam with roller rockers to produce quite the vigours chop. The motor is topped with a polished Edelbrock intake and air cleaner. The Corvette’s engine bay is simply astounding. The entirety is smoothed and painted. Down to every visible bolt, all the surfaces within the engine bay are mirror-polished. The chrome contrasts with carefully selected, painted accents for a more balanced presentation. The results draw the eye to the chrome trim and accessories without being visually overloading. This technique allows for more of the chrome to be seen than most approaches. The cleanliness is unparalleled. The engine is mated to a 700r transmission. The pair delivers power to the factory 355 rear end. The most visually compelling pieces of the powertrain are the iconic mirror-polished side pipes from Hooker Headers.
The gleaming yellow exterior of the 72’ is certainly the build’s most noticeable feature. Such notoriety is exceptionally impressive given the context of the other modifications. The C3’ marks an extremely important body and overall styling change in the evolution of the American icon that is the Corvette. Its dedicated sports car persona began to alter in its third generation to a more well-rounded road machine. Now in 2018, it’s well into supercar territory. The C3 established multiple styling cues that the Corvette has continued to carry with it. Most notably the sleekness of its nose-end, muscular fender arches, and scooped tail-light section. The modifications that Steve applied to his 72’ help to accentuate these key features. They elevate the visual presence of an already striking machine. The consistent color scheme was established by pairing mirror-polished chrome, Matrix Auto custom mixed Yellow Pearl, and Gunmetal Grey accents. The body was meticulously prepared prior to paint, resulting in a glass-like surface. The door locks, antenna, and trim badges have been shaved for a cleaner exterior finish. The dramatic hood is borrowed from a 1969 427 model which used the cowl for additional engine clearance. A custom one-piece Targa top helps to finalize the flowing roof lines.
The interior follows suit, falling in line with the drama of the exterior and precision underneath the hood. The stock dash remains in place but is paint matched and molded with the custom center console. It has also been outfitted with Dakota Digital VHX gauges. Black leather stretches over the custom door panels, contouring to the upgraded audio system. The original seats have been ditched in favor of later model units from a C5. The center console frames the Pioneer touchscreen head unit. Sound travels through Pioneer amplifiers, twin shallow mount Pioneer subwoofers, and Rockford Fosgate speakers. Finally, the selected materials extend to the touchpoints. The custom billet steering wheel mimics the Colorado Custom wheels and is wrapped in fine black leather. The spherical shift knob sits atop a polished short shifter and is paint pated in the signature yellow pearl.
Steve recounts that his project has been a true “Labor of love”. Though he wouldn’t trade a moment of it, the process these last several years has seen more than its fair share of hardships. Simply establishing the initial direction of the build style proved nearly impossible. Lemons seemed to have aged into a truly fine lemonade, however, as this build became one of the most unique projects of its kind. The resto-mod beauty captures all the effects Steve wished it to. The finished project is one that he and his father can enjoy together, and they do so very much. A true family treasure, the LoVette speaks volumes about what is possible with hard work, perseverance, and most importantly a singular purpose. It’s often said, “passion first, the rest will follow.” That is a truism near and dear to the heart of #TeamSlamd. Few builds have ever displayed that more honestly and handsomely than Steve’s 72’!