Well, well, well, what do we have here? A 427-cubic-inch LS engine stuffed in a widebody drop-top with big brakes and three-piece wheels? If you hadn't already peeked at the photographs, you might think we were talking about the latest offering from Team Corvette. But no, the car we're featuring here is actually a '69 model 'vert owned by one Rob Siwicki of Miami, Florida. And what's even harder to fathom is that this isn't just something Siwicki cruises around in once a month when it's sunny out—this is his only car. Yes, seriously.
Purchased because Siwicki "was single and needed a cool toy,"this Vette is truly a functional cruiser its owner can drive and enjoy every day, rain or shine. And when we say he drives it, we really mean it.
"I don't like car shows, but I love track and performance events. The biggest ‘trophy' I can get is to drive it to the track, beat the #$%* out of it, and drive it home in one piece."And in the time Siwicki's owned the car, which has been since 2008, he's done a lot of beating it and driving it, although he did have to make some changes along the way.
While the car was originally equipped with a big-block, Siwicki's first big power move was to ditch the classic iron for a more modern drivetrain. After all, this was going to be his only driver, which made the case for modern reliability and gas mileage tough to argue. And if the new (at the time) Corvette could be ordered with a 427, well, then Siwicki needed a 427 too.
With Chevy Performance LSX blocks being the hot ticket, Siwicki used one to build himself a pump-gas-friendly, 10:1-compression mill with enough muscle to make new-model Vette drivers think twice. Up top, that meant using a set of CNC-ported LS3 cylinder heads and a custom hydraulic roller camshaft, both of which rely on a FAST 102mm intake manifold to provide fresh air to the combustion chambers. While the resulting 427 is docile enough for daily use, it also lays down approximately 550 hp in full trim.
Of course, installing the big-inch LS didn't come without some heartache, and Siwicki learned the hard way that swapping powerplants often involves a lot more than just yanking the old one and bolting up the new. Luckily he located a speed shop in Miramar, Florida, that was happy to work with him to sort out the bugs.
Overheating was Enemy Number 1 in the ruthless Miami sun, so Siwicki commissioned a cooling system capable of keeping the brawny LS happy even in heavy South Beach traffic. The shop also handled the tuning of Siwicki's ride and took care of the transmission, ditching a stock 4L60E for an RPM Transmissions Level 5 4L60E, which was further upgraded with a Circle D torque converter. If you've ever driven a stout LS-powered car with a quality high-stall converter, you'll understand exactly how much fun Siwicki's Vette can be out on the road.
Power isn't everything, of course, especially in a place like Miami, and Siwicki was keen to ensure his Vette stood out amongst the supercars and modern rides arrayed along the 'strip. With help from Chris McDonald, he modified the already-wide '69, taking a previously installed set of L88/ZL1 fender flares and tucking them up even tighter to the body to help create a more contemporary look.
The wheels, which play a critical role in the overall appearance of the '69, were carefully machined by the gurus at 360 Forged. The massive Concave Straight5 hoops measure 19x9.5 inches up front and a ZR1-spec 19x12 inches in the rear. Wearing humongous 345/30ZR19 Nitto Invo tires out back, these steamrollers get plenty of traction and attention, and they fit perfectly under the modified flares thanks to a serious amount of subtle body massaging.
Inside, modern accoutrements abound, including late-model seats, an upgraded steering wheel, ice-cold A/C, and all the other creature comforts one would expect to find in a modern daily driver. Gauges from Auto Meter apprise Siwicki of the current condition of the engine, transmission, and fuel system, no matter if he's loping down I-95 or blasting by at 95 mph. Finally there's the convertible top, which can be doffed anytime the sun comes out to play. And we have to admit, there's something about a convertible in South Beach that just makes sense.
Top down, tunes up, and the LS engine purring, Siwicki's C3 is sure to make late-model drivers jealous of his style and old-school cruisers covetous of his power. Supercar aficionados, meanwhile, may think they've seen a widebody, but this pumped-up vintage Vette will show them what the term really means. And really, what's better than a daily driven racer built with modern power and expertly enhanced classic lines? For Rob Siwicki, nothing.
|1969 Chevy Corvette|
|Owner||Rob Siwicki; Miami, FL|
|Heads||CNC-ported LS3 aluminum|
|Camshaft||Custom-spec hydraulic roller|
|Pistons||Wiseco forged aluminum|
|Crankshaft||LS7 forged steel|
|Oil System||Stock wet-sump|
|Fuel Pump||Stock in-tank|
|Fuel Injection||Stock LS7|
|Intake Manifold||FAST 102mm composite|
|Ignition||Relocated stock coil-near-plug|
|Engine Management||EFI Live with custom tuning|
|Exhaust||Custom 17⁄8-in long-tube headers, 3-in side pipes|
|Transmission||RPM Transmissions Level 5 4L60E automatic|
|Torque Converter||Circle D with 2,800-rpm stall speed|
|Rearend||10-bolt with 3.55 gears|
|Suspension||Vette Brakes and Products (front and rear)|
|Brakes||C5 Corvette two-piston (front), stock (rear)|
|Wheels||360 Forged Concave Straight5; 19x9.5-in (front), 19x12-in (rear)|
|Tires||Nitto Invo; 275/30ZR19 (front), 345/30ZR19 (rear)|