The Griffey’s 1954 Corvette
Transitions Concept 546
Article and photos by Larry Crain
The road to building an award-winning vehicle can be a long one with a lot of twists and turns. The travel down this road is attempted by many but not all follow it to the end. Larry Griffey, owner of Larry Griffey’s Hot Rods & Restorations, has traveled this road many times in his business of building vehicles that are as varied as his taste in them. He has built everything from weekend cruisers to Great 8 winners and a First Place winner at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Eight years ago Larry came across a 1954 Corvette project car that was just a pile of parts and a custom Jamison Chassis. It took a while and quite a bit of negotiating with the owner, but Larry finally got the deal he was looking for and the Corvette found a new home in his garage. The car sat for a few years then Larry and Chuck Powell began a six-year journey down a road that saw a whole lot of custom fiberglass work take place on the car. Larry’s wife Robbie was a major factor in keeping them focused on seeing the project to completion during those years. With the initial fabrications and body modifications completed at Larry’s home it was time to move the car over to the shop for final fit of the body and disassembly for the car to be painted. At this stage all the talents of Kevin Riffey and Dustin Boone were brought into action completing the car with all of the equipment on hand at Larry Griffey’s Hot Rods & Restorations. The group effort at Griffey’s saw the Corvette transformed into what would become a 2017 Great 8 Award winning car.
This 1954 Corvette known as “Transitions Concept 546” got that title because of the many body modifications that blended a 1954 and 1956 Corvette to become one beautiful rolling piece of art. The body modifications start with the rear having been widened 3 inches and the front widened 1 ¾ inches. The body was wedged channeled 1 inch at the rear, 1 ¼ inches at the A pillar and 2 inches at the radiator core support so that the proportions of the body would flow seamlessly from front to rear. The rear hatch as well as the cowl area was reshaped and the cowl vent removed along with A pillar modifications so a 1956 Corvette windshield frame and removable hardtop could be used. The stock hood was totally reworked and turned into what now looks like a factory style cowl induction hood. With this much of the body being altered the doors were severely altered using a combination of 1956 and 1954 Corvette doors that have been blended together perfectly. The talents of Larry Griffey and Chuck Powel really shine when you find out that all of the fiberglass work on this Corvette was done without changing the center section of the car so that the hood & trunk are of stock proportions. All of this beautiful hand-worked fiberglass is hidden under a gorgeous paint job that is a Red Metallic tri-coat base coat clear coat system from Matrix.
The exterior trim that compliments the beautiful paint is at first look factory style pieces and some custom pieces. But there is more to the bright work than meets the eye. Since the body proportions had changed, so would every piece of exterior chrome. The bumpers, headlight surrounds, grille and its trim have all been reshaped by the crew at Griffey’s to fit the new contours of the body. Once reshaped, all of the parts were sent to Advance Plating where they worked their magic to flawless perfection in all of the chrome that went on this car. One subtle but very unique and functioning piece of trim is the body side trim that says Supercharged. This piece is more than just a shiny bit of chrome but a functioning LED lit directional signal built by Kevin Ford of Lokar Performance and chromed by Advanced Plating. What at first appears to be factory badges on the body at a closer look reveals to be custom pieces designed by Jason Norberg that feature the wording Transitions Concept 546.
The custom interior for this one-of-a-kind Corvette was handled by Pro Auto Custom Interiors. Steve Holcomb and the crew built a custom interior for this Corvette that would stand up against any competitor. The interior is a perfect blend of leather in a shade called “Deep Earth” with inserts in a custom beige woven nylon. From the custom console that is home to a Lokar shifter to the dash that carries a custom set of gauges from Classic Instruments, nothing was overlooked in making this interior stand out from the crowd. The interior also features power windows from Nu-Relics, a Vintage Air a/c system, remote entry from Dakota Digital, a tilt column from Ididit and a one off steering wheeling from CON2R that was wrapped in matching interior leather. Every single detail in the interior reflects the same level of perfection as the exterior down to the interior step plates that are a one-off design by the crew at Griffey’s then produced by Nick Steffens of High Pressure Motorsports.
There is an old saying that beauty is only skin deep but that is not the case for this 1954 Corvette. Underneath the beautifully executed exterior and one-of-a-kind custom interior is a chassis and drivetrain just as detailed. The ground work for this car is a Jamison’s Custom Corvette tubular chassis that Larry Griffey’s shop set up with C4 Corvette front and rear suspension and a C4 Corvette rear end that has been narrowed three inches. The brake system of choice for this very special car is Baer Brake’s on all four corners, and with the motor that Larry went with, stopping power is a must. To complete the rolling chassis, Larry went with a set of wheels from Billet Specialties called “Knuckles”. Larry went with the combination of 18x8 mounted with 225/40/18 on the front and 20x10 mounted with 255/45/20 on the rear that gives the car a killer stance from any angle.
The heartbeat of this car is an LS1 equipped with an Edelbrock Supercharger both beautifully detailed and covered by a one-off aluminum cover built by Kevin Riffey and detailed in house at Griffey’s. The LS1 was set up with a custom ground camshaft from Brian Tooley Racing that helped the motor and supercharger perform better when on the Dyno at Custom Race Engines where Nick Steffans performed his tuning magic. This dressed out LS1 is equipped with a Larry Griffey custom polished stainless exhaust system that is 2 ½ inch mandrel bent equipped with a pair of Magnaflow mufflers. The dressed out high performance LS1 was then paired up with a GM 4L60E transmission to complete the all Chevrolet picture.
The last stages of finishing a vehicle that can compete on the level to contend for a Great 8 and possibly the Ridler Award takes hours and hours of work. This is when Larry along with Kevin Riffey, Dustin Boone, Chuck Powell and Dwight Sharp spent long days and late nights getting the Corvette ready for its debut in Detroit. The competition at the February 2017 Detroit AutoRama was intense with a very large turnout of freshly completed cars and trucks. When the awards were announced for the Great 8, all of those years of hard work by Larry, his friends and shop staff were proven by the car bringing home a Great 8 Award.
Larry says this award-winning car might never had been completed without the support of his wife Robbie, the help of friends like Chuck Powell, Dwight Sharp and shop staff like Kevin Riffey & Dustin Boone.
Larry and Robbie Griffey would like to thank all of their friends, and their employees as well as their spouses for putting in the long hours for 12 weeks so they could meet their goal of having the Corvette ready for the 2017 Detroit AutoRama.
Shops and manufacturers used in the building of this car.