“On the first day God created the earth, on the second day he created the Corvette…” Dan Short jokingly answered when I asked him who this sparkling red Corvette was built for. Although I think he was only half joking – I could believe there was some divine intervention in the creation of a ride this beautiful!
On the third day of the SEMA show I was lucky enough to walk around the car with him and pick his brain about this cool build. Turns out a lot of this car was put together largely with spare parts they had around the shop, but the one part that sets this off from any other red Corvette on the road is the removable split window hard top. Dan and his team created this removable hard top by cutting the top off an original ’63 split window coupe and using it to create a mold. This mold was used to fabricate a fiberglass hard top that can be placed onto a convertible with a perfect fit and finish. The fiberglass construction and custom clip system makes it easy for two people to pop the top off and let their hair blow in the wind on the next ride.
As if the original Chevy small block wouldn’t have made this ‘vette fast enough, Dan decided to dust off an LS engine from his inventory and incorporate it into this build. He said the LS conversion was a smooth process for this build, and didn’t even have to modify the firewall or floor to accept the transmission he paired with this motor. A custom performance suspension set up gives this classic the tight handling any driver would want to handle the power behind the LS.
As cool as this car is, the story behind the builder is even cooler. Dan bought his first car – a 1967 Camaro – from a guy that he chased down the road, following the billow of smoke the car was puffing out. Not long after he did the deal he had to chase down the prior owner again…to ask him how to open the hood! It’s amazing to think that this same teenager went from struggling with a beat up ’67 to heading up a shop that puts out one of a kind builds on a regular basis.
But this transformation didn’t happen overnight. Shortly after he bought this car he enlisted in the U.S. Army and continued to serve our country for the next 15 years, retiring honorably as a Major in 2005. During his military career he traveled the world in service, while also honing his technical mechanical knowledge. The skills he learned while enlisted were not only used on military machinery, but on the piece of American muscle he had back home. Over time he built and rebuilt his Camaro, which he still owns and plans on restoring one more time.
Learning about Dan’s story was especially cool for me, because my first car was also a Camaro…and I still drive it today. Working on my car over the years has not only helped me gain technical knowledge, but also taught me the value of hard work and determination. Dan’s hard work, determination – and love of classic rides – resulted in the shop we know today as FantomWorks. His inspirational story is proof that amazing things can be accomplished, no matter where you start out!