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Corvette Customizing Project Lands On Magazine Cover

Source: Enid News and Eagle
By Robert Barron
May 22, 2006

ENID, OK – Customizing cars has been a hobby for Merlin Erdner since he was a kid. His latest project landed on the cover of a recent issue of Corvette Fever magazine.

Erdner bought the 2000 model Corvette C5 after it was wrecked and put it back together, making customizing changes as he went.

Erdner chopped the top, lowered the car two and a half inches, widened the rear wheels to 13 inches. Factory width is about 10 or 11 inches. The rear wheels were to accommodate the wider back end of the car.

He started out tapering the vehicle from the front of the doors until he reached the rear bumper. The bumper he widened to about 4 inches.

The modifications had nothing to do with the wreck. The car was a coupe, then Erdner bought a convertible tail section and revised it into a convertible. The rest is custom.

He also put a supercharger on the engine. Erdner said it will run 121 mph in a quarter mile with his supercharged 520 horsepower engine.

Erdner, who owns Merlin’s Body Shop, 2801 N. 4th, said he runs 110 octane gasoline in the car.

The project was time consuming and he worked on it as a hobby, when he had time. He has customized several cars before, usually selling them and putting the money into another custom project.

“I’ve customized at least 10 cars to this degree,” he said. “Eventually, I may sell it and start over again. I use my own imagination.”

Erdner took the car to a Corvette show in Dallas where the publishers of Corvette Fever saw it.

In his business he repairs mostly late model collision damage.

When Erdner got the car in 2003 it was a coupe, which he converted into a convertible. The tail was crushed so badly the suspension was distorted. He stripped off yellow paint, gutted the interior and damaged fiberglass. He had the tail removed from the factory seam floor, effectively splitting the car in two.

He found an equally damaged Corvette, with damage to the other end and put the two good ends together.

When he completed the project he painted it torch red to match a black interior, complete with a Bose stereo system.

Erdner estimates he put $30,000 into the car.

Even now Erdner says the car still is under construction and is in his shop.

As a youngster growing up, Erdner looked at car magazines and started experimenting with model cars.

“I’ve been doing it since I was 14. I started with model cars and moved right on to this,” he said.

He has taken up another hobby — taking his souped-up vette to dragstrips to see how he can do. He usually does very well.

Customizing cars is a hobby with Erdner, a way to escape the pressures of a thriving business.

“It’s a way to get away. I like going to dragstrips on weekends, it’s just a hobby,” he said. “It’s a fun car to drive. There’s a lot of acceleration.”