N2A’s 789: Retro Done Right

12/19/06 - Business Week Online

By Stuart Schwartzapfel

 

The “No Two Alike” division of Kanter Concepts brings on a harmonious combination of iconic Chevrolet design and easy-care performance

Melding design elements from different Chevy models, manufacturer N2A’s 789 shows the world that you really can’t have enough of a good thing. Although the 789 looks instantly iconic, it is actually the best of three classics mounted atop a current-generation C6 Corvette platform.

Nostalgia truly runs wild with the 789, pictured above as a working prototype that was designed and assembled in N2A’s Santa Ana, Calif. facility. This prototype made its debut at the 2006 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Assn.) show in LasVegas in November, 2006.

N2A (as in ‘no two alike’), a division of Kanter Concepts, is the brainchild of CEO/founder Fred Kanter. And although N2A is not the first company to produce modern-day vehicles that pay homage to classic design, they do stand out with innovative design creativity that here is seamlessly executed into a drop-dead gorgeous boulevard cruiser.

American Splendor “Our approach is completely different”, says Kanter. “We have taken the world’s best value in a performance chassis, the Le Mans-winning Corvette C6, and wrapped it an iconic selection of American designs.”

Aptly named for the three years represented in the overall design, the 789 has the “hooded eyes” and chrome grille of a ’57, a mid-section that’s reminiscent of a ’58 Impala and the “bird in flight” rear tailfins of a ’59. These three vehicles are all instantly recognizable classics celebrated by people around the world. In particular, the ’57’s likeness has been used extensively in popular culture (toys, graphics, music, movies, and television).

All the Nostalgia, None of the Headaches Owning and operating a classic car often proves difficult. Rarity of parts, expertise needed for installation, and potentially high upkeep or restoration costs are some of the problems with which collectors must deal. According to Kanter, all of the money in the world spent to modify or modernize a vintage car will not change the reliability or performance problems associated with it. The 789 offers the best of both worlds: retro looks and styling, and it should fire up every time you turn the key.

Do-It-Yourself Details The 789 eschewed AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design) software and was designed by hand by chief designer Terrence Robinson. “He did it without a committee, and his heart and passion were directly connected to the largest computer known to man, the human brain”, says Kanter. The build process took a scant 14 weeks from the time that N2A employees began modeling-over a stripped Corvette. The body is constructed of lightweight composite panels.

Buyers interested in the 789 must provide N2A with a donor C6 series (2005-2007) Corvette, which currently retails for around $45,000 (though used models can be had for less). After stripping the ‘Vette of its stock body, N2A goes to work, hand-grafting the retro body panels over the stock frame, suspension, and massive 400-horsepower, 6.0-liter aluminum-block V8 engine.

Planned production volume is 50 cars per year at a price of around $135,000 (including donor Corvette), with the customer having their choice of interior/exterior color schemes. A $2,000 wheel allowance is baked into the price as are Borla exhaust and PST high-performance anti-sway bars. Substantial performance/audio/visual upgrades are also available.

The Verdict: You have to love N2A for having so much fun with their planned product offerings. The 789 is a truly unique alternative to today’s high-end drop tops. The design is sure to stop anyone in their tracks, and performance is nothing to scoff at with Corvette power under the hood.

Limited production numbers means exclusivity is also assured, which is a bragging right at these price levels. Spec sheets aside, 789’s emotional design and nostalgic allure bring a completely new deep-pocketed buyer to the table. This buyer not only appreciates Chevrolet’s rich design history, but is one who’s also interested in celebrating it.