For Anthony Coppola, his lifelong passion for going very fast started out when he was just a teenager. It all began with a 3-horsepower mini-bike that was given as a gift to the then 14-year-old racer in training. “It didn’t run so I tore it all down and rebuilt the motor on my own,” states Coppola. “From that moment on I just wanted to make anything with a motor go faster.”
It was at age 16 when the teenager got serious about speed. He picked up a “slightly” used and abused AMX on the cheap for his first ride. It had some issues, including a blown 401 engine, but that didn’t stop him one bit. He pulled the entire drivetrain and rebuilt it; engine, trans, and rearend all were refurbished over a three-year span. Then he brought it to the track to see what she could do. There, he pushed the ride hard and got it through the traps in 11.30 seconds at 123 mph. But fast wasn’t fast enough. He then dropped in a shot of NO2 and pushed it even harder, blowing through the line in 10.83 at 128 mph. Not too shabby to say the least.
But soon Coppola realized his true passion was for Chevy’s Corvette. In 1995, he purchased his first Corvette: a ’93 stuffed with an LT4 and a six-speed. He kept it stock for an entire week before he pulled the drivetrain out, looking for some big-time changes. He built a nifty stroker 396 LT4 with a ProCharger F-1R supercharger up top. He tuned it to 700 hp and then added a 4L80E trans for quicker shifts. Before he knew it, he was running consistent 9-second passes all day long.
Anthony was learning his skills both on his own through typical trial and error and through his high school automotive classes. After graduation he attended college and studied automotive engineering at the General Motors University of Automotive Management in Van Nuys, California. He followed his passion and worked at GM dealers starting as a line tech and moving up to service director. At that point Anthony knew he wanted to go out on his own, and take Coppola Motorsports from a part-time gig to a full-time performance shop. He now builds performance oriented drivetrains and dyno tunes them on his own chassis dyno right there at the shop.
Which leads us to this beautiful ride. Coppola purchased this 2000 FRC (fixed roof coupe) in 2004 with just 7,000 miles showing on the odometer. It’s been a work in progress over the years, as he’s been experimenting with different setups, looking for the ultimate C5 street/strip ride. And ultimately, the FRC was a great starting point as it had the stiffest Corvette chassis to date, due primarily to the permanently mounted roof.
Of course, the first thing Coppola did was pull the LS1 drivetrain. At 345 hp, it wasn’t underpowered for most people; but to him it needed quite a bit more punch. So he modified the engine, throwing in more cam, porting the heads and adding a FAST 90mm intake and 90mm throttle body into the mix. He also installed a set of Kooks headers for better flow. Adding a six-speed and a 4.10-stuffed rear got Coppola in the mid 10s. Good for most, but not good enough for Anthony.
In 2014, the FRC was brought back into the shop for a final makeover. Here, Coppola would pull together all his resources and take on the ultimate stroker LS build. He started fresh with a new LS3 block from GM (with the added torque plates) and then took this build to the limit. The block was first zero-decked, was line-honed with ARP main studs and set up with all-new GM block plugs. Oil clearances were blueprinted as well to keep the engine out of harm’s way.
The cylinders were then filled with Mahle forged pistons with an antifriction coating. Callies 4340 forged steel H-beam rods with ARP 2000 rod bolts were connected to a Callies 4340 forged steel 4.000-inch stroke, custom-balanced crank. Clevite H main and rod bearings keep it all rotating with smoothness and precision.
The pistons were built with Hellfire steel rings. A custom-grind camshaft from Cam Motion, along with LS7 lifters, stock rockers with the roller trunnion upgrade and custom length 3/8 pushrods help make up the valvetrain. These work with the AFR 235V cathedral port heads, ported by Brian Tooley, and built up with lightweight valves. Up top, a ported FAST 102 intake with a billet TPiS 102 throttle body help keep this beast fed. Kooks 2-inch race headers with 3-inch mid-pipes feed titanium Z06 lightweight mufflers for that killer tonal note.
For a little added boost, Coppola installed a custom Nitrous Outlet 102mm plate system so he could add a 150-300—shot of NO2 on command. It’s managed by a progressive controller with a custom wiring harness built in-house. Because he knew this ride would be headed for the track, the six-speed was ditched and an RPM Level 6, 4L65E transmission was installed, along with a custom trans cooler and 10-inch fan to keep it chill. An billet RPM flexplate was added to the mix, along with a billet coupler. A Precision Vigilante triple-disc torque converter was installed along with the trans, built with a stall speed of 3,600 rpm. An ECS trans brace holds it all together. All this power is fed into a DSS 3.5-inch driveshaft, which spins the RPM Stage 4 differential with 4.10 gears. The rear is installed with a Pfadt custom differential mount.
Coppola performed several handling and suspension upgrades on the Vette. A Pfadt drag racing anti-drag sway bar provides balance between the front and rear of the Corvette (front sway bar was removed). Billet LG Motorsports 15-inch rear drag spindles and QA1 two-way adjustable drag shocks (front and back) handle the suspension duties. Z06 brakes, front and rear, with drilled and slotted rotors help this baby stop short of the nets. Bogart wheels, 15×10 in the rear, and shod in Mickey Thompson Radial Pro 275/60/15 gets the power to the pavement. Up front, Bogart 17×5 wheels with Mickey Thompson Front Runners keep this ride pointed in the right direction.
Fuel is supplied by a custom system featuring a Walbro 400 in-tank pump and a Bosch external pump. A -8 fuel line and -6 return line gets the fuel where it needs to go, while running through both a Fueltech filter and regulator. FAST fuel rails and Injector Dynamics ID850 injectors divvy up the fuel and feed the hungry cylinders. Tuned with HP Tuners custom speed density tune, this Vette makes 587 rwhp and 562 rwtq. With a little go-go juice (150-shot), the numbers escalate to 741 rwhp and 758 rwtq. Future plans are to have a custom billet intake made with direct-port nitrous for better distribution and flow.
More goals for the near future; upgrading to a C6 Z06 differential and bringing the trans up to a level 10 so he can give it a 300-shot of nitrous without fear of massive destruction! With all that, Coppola hopes to be driving this beauty to the track with the A/C crankin’ and then pullin’ low 9-second timeslips on demand. We here at Vette are rooting for you!
Photography by Scotty Lachenauer