Yunique Creations

It is no surprise that Smokey Yunick is involved with something to do with cars. Son of the famous racing mechanic also named Smokey, he grew up around cars and racing.

These days, he's putting his knowledge of fast cars to use, building facsimiles of 1959 Corvettes at a little shop tucked away on County Road 304 in southern Flagler County.

Building them under the name "Yunique," Smokey has been interested in these kind of cars since he was a kid going to car shows. "We were always involved in racing," he said. "I liked to go to the car shows as a relief from racing." That love of car shows hasn't dimmed for Yunick, and he took his first production model, which rolled off the assembly line earlier this year, to a Corvette show in August.

But this was no ordinary show, Yunick said. "We took it to the biggest Corvette car show in the world in Carlisle, Pa.," he said. "We were by far the most-photographed car." Although he got to Pennsylvania too late to enter the car in the contest and could only put it on display, he just recently came back from a smaller car show in Jacksonville, where the car took first prize.

Yunick said he could have sold the car at the Carlisle show, but decided to hang on to it for a while to help promote the business. "I've noticed it's going to be very easy to start a restoration business with this car as an example," he said.

While not an actual restoration -- Yunick custom builds the frame and uses a 1959 Corvette mold to create the body -- the car has the look and feel of the original. But Yunick's version is all modern and up-to-date under the hood. All of the parts are genuine General Motors parts or they are manufactured by Yunick. The car is powered by a Corvette Gen II LT1 P engine with four-speed automatic overdrive and four-wheel independent suspension.

But there are some other differences as well. The roof on Yunick's car is 2 inches higher than the original 1959 Corvette and the seats are 4 inches lower and 7 inches farther back than the original model. And that makes his version better than the original, Yunick said. "The older cars, you really can't drive them in today's world," he said. "This is a brand new car that looks like an old car." And in these times of higher gasoline prices, Yunick said the car gets about 30 miles per gallon -- although he can build one that is more focused on high performance if a customer wants that.

Yunick said he expects to build six to 10 cars a year at his Flagler County facility. "I think there's going to be a real good market for it," he said. "It's much nicer looking than a perfectly restored '59."

Yunick said he has received a lot of help from Corvette mechanic Thomas Roth, who tells him the facsimile car is superior to many new car products. Right now, it takes about six months to build a car from the ground up, but Yunick said he hopes to shave at least a month off the production time. "That's the one thing about the buyers," he said. "They have the money and they'll spend it, but they're not patient."

Yunick said he hopes to be able to keep at least one finished car on hand all the time to show prospective buyers. Yunick said he hadn't really thought about bringing the car to the local car show, but is excited about showing it off now.

And like the handmade seats originally designed for use in airplanes, he believes the sky is the limit.

Special thanks to The News-Journal and October 06, 2007 Resurrecting a dream By AARON LONDON Staff Writer
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