Have you ever wondered where some popular idioms come from? For instance, who was the first person who failed twice, then did something right and proclaimed, "third time's a charm?" Or, who was the bad news bear that was constantly down on his luck, until one day a turn of events made him say, "everything happens for a reason?" I suppose the world may never know where they came from, but after I met Michael McCloskey, I certainly knew to whom they apply. You see, Michael is an avid Corvette enthusiast, who was determined to own a killer Corvette, come hell or high water.
His story starts with a '76 T-top Vette, which had a 383 GM crate motor and a Richmond four-speed. Unfortunately, one of Mike's employees decided he could have more fun with the car than Mike and ended up stealing it in the middle of the night and totaling it after a smoke-filled burnout and donut show. Never one for giving up, Mike bought the totaled mess back from his insurance company and decided to transplant his motor and transmission into a '73 Corvette, which he had custom painted and completely restored before getting on the road. Unfortunately, the '73 ended up having a similar fate as the '76, this time by Mike's own hand, totaling it in a bizarre school bus related incident. With two Corvettes down, it was time to change the game plan and get serious. "After a brief time and a trip to Moroso Speedway in Florida, where I completed a Justin Bell competition driving course, I was ready to buy another Corvette. I promised to keep it stock."
Of course, literally one week later, Mike had the hood off his newly-purchased '99 FRC C5 and the fun was underway. After going through three different engine combinations, including a stout 408, Mike turned to Don Kinder, owner of Slowhawk Performance in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to build him a killer 416 that could handle everything Mike wanted to throw at it. Knowing that this car was going to last a long time, Don started the build with a stock-bore L92 block stuffed with a set of forged JE pistons. A set of Callies Compstar rods and a matching Compstar 4-inch crankshaft would bring the motor to 416 cubic inches, which Don topped with a pair of AFR 225cc cylinder heads. A boost-friendly camshaft was cut by Comp Cams, which commands the valvetrain with 234/240 degrees of duration; 0.600/0.605 inches of lift; and a wide, 115-degree LSA.
While most people would be happy with the power that an AFR-headed 416 would make, Don knew better. After a quick call to East Coast Supercharging, a Novi 2000 supercharger system was en route with an upgraded eight-rib pulley system. With the T-Trim head unit installed, Slowhawk Performance turned its attention to the provided air-to-air intercooler, which sits just in front of a four-core Griffin radiator. The resulting charge piping is coupled directly to a Nick Williams 90mm throttle body, which is mated to a FAST LSX intake manifold. Wide open, this combination makes 14 psi and forces enough air into the engine to warrant the eight 60-pound injectors, backed by two inline fuel pumps. Unfortunately, even that isn't enough fuel as this combo is currently limited to 6,000 rpm, where it already makes an astounding 800 rwhp and 720 lb-ft of torque!
"The car drives like a dream. It cruises the streets with grace and when asked, delivers without hesitation. The Michelins are super tires, but the coilover suspension is what makes it all happen. No wheelhop, no tail wag below redline, and no sliding in corners. What a total package." And Mike isn't kidding. With a set of Pfadt coilovers on all four corners, a matching set of Hotchkis sway bars front and rear, and massive 19x12 wheels out back, this Corvette is set up to handle and ride with the best of them. Smooth shifting comes from an upgraded T56, which has a hardened output shaft and upgraded Third and Fourth gears. A stock torque tube connects the Textralia clutch to the transmission, which applies power to a set of 3.42 gears housed inside the stock differential.
Of course, after having two gorgeous C3 Corvettes, Mike couldn't just leave the exterior of his C5 stock. With the help of California Jim, Mike's C5 has been almost entirely reworked, inside and out. The first thing most people notice is the custom hood, which along with the front fenders and doors, wears a set of Liquid Silver ghost flames over the Torch Red paint. Out back, the rear fenders were flared two inches per side, to help tuck the massive 19x12 wheels and create a killer, show-stopping stance. An ACI low-profile wing and black-painted rear valance close out the car's exterior, which certainly matches its heart and soul-the monstrous, blown 416 that is. Under the hood Mike went all out, carrying the Torch Red and ghost flame motif throughout the engine bay. Everything they couldn't paint was polished and the attention to detail is what really sets this Corvette apart.
But trust us, this is no show car or trailer queen, Mike drives it everywhere. In fact, with over 59,000 miles under his belt, it seems Mike has shaken his previous luck and is finally getting to enjoy the fruits of his, and Don's, labor. When asked about what he likes most, he told us, "This car looks, sounds, feels, and goes like nothing else out there." And here's to keeping it that way.
1999 FRC Corvette
Owner: Michael McCloskey
Block: GM L92, 416 cid
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Heads: AFR 225cc, 2.08 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: Comp Cams hydraulic roller, 234/240 duration, 0.600/0.605-inch lift, 115 LSA
Pushrods: Comp Cams, 7.350 inch
Rocker arms: Stock LS1, 1.7:1 ratio
Pistons: JE, forged
Crankshaft: Callies Compstar, forged
Rods: Callies Compstar, forged
Throttle body: Nick Williams 90mm
Fuel injectors: 60 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Walbro 255-lph in-tank, A&A Corvette inline
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, NGK TR6
Engine management: Stock PCM, tuned by Slowhawk Performance
Power adder: ECS/Paxton Novi 2000 Supercharger
Boost: 14 psi
Intercooler: ECS air-to-air
Exhaust system: Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, 3-inch X-pipe, Borla Stinger catback
Transmission: T56, built by Slowhawk Performance
Clutch: Textralia twin disc
Front suspension: Pfadt coilovers, stock control arms, Hotchkis sway bar
Rear suspension: Pfadt coilovers, stock control arms, Hotchkis sway bar
Rearend: Stock IRS, 3.42 gear, posi, DTE differential strut
Brakes: Z06 calipers, Hawk HPS pads, Baer Eradispeed rotors
Wheels: Motosport 18x9.5 front, 19x12 rear
Front tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 275/35/18
Rear tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 345/30/19
Fuel octane: 93
Current mileage: 65,000