If you could have changed one feature on the fifth-generation Corvette Z06, what would you have done? How about a convertible version, like Anthony Graziano’s 2002 Caravaggio Corvette Z06 Convertible?
Graziano bought his 2002 Z06 new, after finding the ’00 Corvette coupe he was driving to be “boring.” “Someone told me about the Z06 that came with 405 horsepower, and I went to my dealer to look at it,” he remembers. “They gave me the keys to testdrive it, and as soon as I started it, I knew I was coming home with it.”
The car stayed showroom stock for a while—“a few weeks,” as Graziano puts it—before he began modifying and upgrading it. First up were bolt-ons like new wheels and an aftermarket exhaust system. Then, to get even more power out of his C5’s LS6, he swapped in a new camshaft and cylinder heads.
It was then that he met up with Corvette customizer John Caravaggio. “I was on the Corvette forums, looking at some of his stuff,” Graziano recalls. “He’d never had a Z06 convertible in the States, [though] he had one in Canada that he did. I started talking to him, and he said that he wanted to get a little exposure down here. That’s how we got together, and we became very good friends.”
Graziano’s Z06 went up to Caravaggio Corvettes in Concord, Ontario, Canada, and about a month later, he had a converted drop-top C5 Z06. “After the conversion, I had it for about six more months, driving it around and enjoying it,” says Graziano. “Then John called me and said, ‘I have a wide-body kit that I want to do on your car. I’m sending a trailer.’”
Soon afterward, an already-distinctive C5 was even more of a one-of-a-kind car—but they still weren’t done. “We started doing the interior, the big brakes, the wheels, and everything else,” says Graziano.
Modifications notwithstanding, the car remained very street-driveable. “When I picked it up from him, I drove it back to New York,” remembers Graziano. “We caught snow in Buffalo—it was fun!” That was after a stop at the border crossing that took longer than normal. “We had a hard time coming through the border, because nobody knew what the car was,” Graziano says. “They had all kinds of inspectors out there, and they couldn’t believe it was a Corvette.”
Once the inspectors were satisfied that the wide-body Z06 convertible was in compliance with all Federal safety and emissions standards for model-year 2002 cars, Graziano was on his way.
Part of the “everything else” Graziano mentions above came in the form of an engine change. Out came the LS6, and in went a Cartek-built, 457-cube, 585hp mill based on a bored-out GM Performance Parts LSX block.
“John Caravaggio called me and said, ‘I have a wide-body kit that I want to do on your car. I’m sending a trailer’”—Anthony Graziano
What’s the car like to drive, now that virtually every aspect has been upgraded to the nth degree? “It’s a blast,” says Graziano, who adds, “I don’t think I’ve ever put the top back up!”
In fact, the C5 has two tops he’s rarely put up. “It has a convertible top, and it also has a hard top, but I’ve never even touched it,” says Graziano. “If it rains, I’ll just put the convertible top up.”
While Graziano admits that he still considers the car a “work in progress,” he regularly drives it on runs with other Corvette enthusiasts. He prefers that to simply displaying it, though he’s won more than a few car-show trophies as well.
Regardless of whether the Corvette of your dreams has a top on it, Graziano’s got some advice regarding extreme customization. “If it’s in you to do it, do it. Make it the way you like it. Personalize the car the way you want it.” VETTE
|2002 Caravaggio Corvette Z06 Convertible|
|Owner||Anthony Graziano; Great River, NY|
|Block||GM Performance Parts LSX iron; bored by Cartek to 4.500 inches|
|Heads||L92 aluminum with Cartek Stage 6X porting|
|Intake||Ported L76 composite|
|Camshaft||Cartek custom hydraulic roller|
|Pistons||Diamond custom forged aluminum|
|Crankshaft||Callies forged steel|
|Oiling System||Stock with external cooler|
|Fuel Pump||Kenne-Bell Boost-A-Pump|
|Power adder||Nitrous Express 180hp nitrous-oxide injection|
|Ignition||Stock electronic coil-on-plug|
|Exhaust||Kook’s custom headers, Magnaflow mufflers, and 4-inch pipes.|
|Clutch||Cartek LS7 Stage 8 with aluminum flywheel|
|Suspension||Penske adjustable coilovers|
|Brakes||Brembo four-wheel discs with eight-piston front calipers|
|Wheels||HRE 560; 20x10-in front, 20x12-in rear|
|Tires||Pirelli P-Zero Rosso; 275/30ZR20 front, 345/25ZR20 rear|
|Current Mileage||Approximately 23,000|