Experience Automotive Excellence with John Caravaggio’s Unica 1, Series 1 C8 Widebody Corvette
In the meticulous world of automotive design and customization, few names evoke both reverence and excitement quite like John Caravaggio. Known for his deep appreciation of Italian design principles and his profound ties to the Corvette and broader automotive community in Toronto, Caravaggio unveils his latest masterpiece: the UNICA 1, Series 1 C8 Widebody. Set to grace the pages of automotive history, this limited-production marvel promises a unique fusion of Italian-inspired aesthetics and cutting-edge performance.
Meet John Caravaggio: Passion for Italian Design
John Caravaggio is well-known in the Corvette community as well as the wider car community in Toronto. I also have to mention John’s immense pride in his Italian background and his links to that community. He feels that this explains his deep commitment to pure design. John has a strong commitment to the Italian purity of design. He characterizes Italian design as seeking refinement, subtlety, and nuance. And he has developed a clientele who share this philosophy.
Introducing the UNICA 1, Series 1 Widebody
This brings us to his very unique C8 widebody, the UNICA 1, Series 1. The name is self-explanatory….the cars are unique and scheduled for a limited production run of 30 cars. The UNICA 1 Series 1 widebody kit is available for the Stingray or Z06 platforms.
All of the widebody pieces are molded in carbon fiber, and all fit either platform. Some mid-cycle additions are planned, but let’s not complicate the story. There will be 25 cars built to the core plan and a limited production run of 5 cars built in exposed carbon. Apart from that, you provide the car (or John can order one), and it is then updated with the widebody kit and modified to your custom order.
Price Points and Additional Customization
Prices are always a sensitive topic. This is not because it’s rude to talk about money but because it is difficult to keep up with escalating supplier costs. Currently, the basic cost is set at $135K (US) for the additions to your car. This price includes the widebody kit, paint, a special proprietary wheel (as seen on his website), brakes, and minor modifications to the exhaust system to make it fit the new bumper. To repeat, the wheels are proprietary and made to John’s order. You simply can’t buy them on Amazon.
Event Showcases and Future Appearances
From this point forward, engine upgrades, interior enhancements, special paint orders, and any other specific requests that vary from “stock” are at additional cost.
Delivery times are actually quite reasonable for this kind of custom build. The first model was shown for the first time in late July at a Canadian Council of Corvette Clubs concours event at Bud Cullen Chevrolet….Canada’s largest Corvette dealership in St. Catharines (ON). The next appearances were at the Woodward Dream Cruise, Corvettes @ Carlisle, and SEMA.
The Engineering Marvel: Track Width and Performance
Several items deserve a more detailed description. First, as a widebody built for the street, there is an informal standard for track width. The track for such cars is generally about 3” wider than stock.
There are two reasons:
- First, there is the limited width of most trailers.
- Second, there are basic engineering considerations. Some builders might choose a slightly narrower track for the front, using a narrower wheel/tire specification.
This is normally for directional stability. For John’s UNICA 1, the wheels are 10” x 20” in the front and 12.5×21” in the rear. Michelin Pilot Sport tires are chosen for their exceptional quality performance requirements. Overall, the car is lowered by about 1” using lowering couplings. This lets UNICA 1 sit nicely on its somewhat larger tire selection.
BREMBO GT brakes are specially contracted from BREMBO and have been chosen for their reliability and performance.
Crafting the Unique Body
To my mind, the body is the most interesting piece in this custom build. Every panel, except for the pieces that comprise the A-Pillar, halo, and roof panels, has been modified from the stock C8. By 2021, John had his initial design ready to go. Early press material and videos were released in February 2022. And then more changes were added. These were actually minor refinements to improve the flow of air to the engine, but they resulted in another delay. The final result is a super smooth body with a very good aero profile that does not offend the eye.
Refined Interior: John’s Signature Upgrades
Normally, in describing custom cars, a long list of modified components is listed. John will add whatever the customer wants but finds it difficult to describe a “standard” order. It is better to stick with the details of John’s core offering. It’s a clean look and total refinement that will sell his product. But, if we were to press him on the subject of popular enhancements, it’s obvious that he has made much of his reputation on his superior interior upgrades. And he doesn’t mind talking about those items produced in his own shop.
Tailored Seats and Interior Enhancement
The GM interior is quite good in terms of design and tactile feelings. But many customers want to take it up a notch. For example, a couple of years ago, one owner brought a standard Stingray C8 Stingray to John for some visual enhancements. John suggested a different color paint for the exterior, carefully upgraded the interior, and matched it to the exterior for warmth and graphics. Photos tell the story. When you see John’s upgrades, you still see a Stingray Corvette…but what a Corvette! Just a sidebar: John has sold that car for the customer, and the customer is currently in line for UNICA 1, the second build.
Unveiling the Beauty of Custom Paint
The most often requested upgrade for the interior is Caravaggio’s seat upgrade. Once again, all materials are of the best quality. For example, when an Alcantara material is selected, John has acquired a special contractual arrangement with Technica of Italy. They supply Ferrari.
For seat upgrades, the options are nearly endless. But, for practical purposes, an owner will ask for a new seat cover in any graphic style they prefer. Any GM-provided seats (stock or race) can be further modified with extra bolstering. And, of course, entirely new, uniquely designed (or made for some other brand) could be requested.
The last published prices for seat upgrades were on the company website for the C7. The offerings remain similar, but prices are now quoted at the time of your agreed discussions. The one thing different for the C8 is that most owners contemplating a Caravaggio kit will have ordered the car they wanted, with the specific seats they wanted. Enhanced bolstering is still popular, but the start point reduces the need for super-complex changes.
A full custom interior is also on the agenda, and while many owners thought such an upgrade was an unnecessary frill, a quick look at John’s demonstrator car seems to change minds quickly. This car is presented with stock (upgraded) and race (upgraded) seats in one car. The race is in red, and the stock style is in blue. These colors help you distinguish what you are seeing.
Paint is another area that is commonly subject to special requests. John freely advises customers on how to get maximum effect to realize their specific dreams, but they are always free to make their own choices. John also works with BASF, and they are developing special paints that will be unique to his cars.
So that’s a quick overview of John Caravaggio’s UNICA 1, Series 1 C8 Widebody. It is an example of fine design, and the order list proves that this car will certainly draw from a well-defined list of very well-qualified owners. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, each line, curve, and modification reflects Caravaggio’s unwavering commitment to elevating automotive design to unparalleled heights. I’m expecting this car to have a good run. And we will always have Series II to anticipate. To learn more, check out their website www.caravaggiocorvettes.com
This article was featured in the October 2023 issue of Vette Vues Magazine and penned by Wayne Ellwood.
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