Christmas is usually the most exciting day for those who are young at heart. For Dennis Derr, the day after Christmas in 1993 overshadowed anything he could have wished for from the bearded gift-giver of the North. That was the day Dennis went to the local Chevrolet dealer and picked out his brand new, bright red sleigh, a 1993 ZR-1. Dennis spent the rest of the day in the showroom "guarding his baby." That tender loving care has been lavished over every inch of this Corvette since the day it came home from the dealer 13,000 miles ago. Dennis brought his Corvette to Corvettes at Carlisle, where he participated in Corvette Fever’s Dyno Challenge. It was impossible not to notice how clean this car is. The attention to detail and cleanliness is remarkable. Some may think that because this is a newer car it would therefore be somehow easier to clean. One look will show that the detail work that’s done on this car equals the power of Mr. Clean and all the scrubbing bubbles he could employ.
Just because Dennis' Corvette has enjoyed a life of diligent care and routine maintenance, it doesn't mean that it hasn't made a trip or two to the doctor's--The Vette Doctors, that is. While Dennis enjoys the feel of all the power that the ZR-1 option includes, he believed that, with some slight coaxing, there would be more power if he looked hard enough and in the right places.
The first thing he did was consult those in the know on what changes would yield the greatest gains of power and torque. That's where The Vette Doctors came in. They took the intake from Dennis' Corvette and siamesed the intake plenum to get maximum air into each and every one of those 32 intake valves. Dennis also found out that cooler is better, and installed a cooler thermostat for the desired response. He's also installed a B&B Tri-Flow exhaust to make sure that all the fuel that goes into the intake valves has no problem leaving. Ron Zimmer provided Dennis with a computer chip to tweak out the entire engine operating system and worked extensively with him to fulfill the specific requirements of his Corvette, and to answer Dennis' questions. Dennis also installed an adjustable fuel-pressure regulator to fine-tune his LT5's diet of premium fuel.
Other than these changes and the time that Dennis spent tuning everything in for optimum performance, the short-block assembly in this LT5 is just as the Chevrolet designers had intended. The LT5 did get some favorable treatment from the factory, which makes this engine as dependable as it is. Those additions include four-bolt mains and modifications to the heads and valvetrain. The only other addition to the entire package was to have The Vette Doctors install 4.09 gears in the limited-slip rear transaxle to make sure Dennis smiles when his right foot is depressed. This combination is well equipped to easily push out over 450 hp.
Like many relationships carried over time, true appreciation of what you have isn't realized until some years have passed and you learn what's hidden beneath the surface. Dennis and his Corvette have one such relationship. It appears that just before his car was built, the EPA discovered that the car exceeded its certified weight by about 15 pounds. GM corrected this problem by installing an elongated fuel-filler neck, which would reduce the fuel tank capacity by about two gallons. This quick fix was performed on Dennis' car--and about 20 others. After that, later cars were modified with aluminum subframes in the rear, and lighter crash absorbent material in the bumpers.
Dennis noticed that he hadn’t seen any other 1993 ZR-1s with the Torch Red exterior and gray interior color scheme. This nugget of information surfaced only after Dennis did some research with the help of the ZR-1 registry, and also on the Net with the help of ZR-1.net. If you have this same color scheme, Dennis would love to know.
Dennis has a car that will perform to the extent that white knuckles and dry-cleaning bills allow, and yet it handles traffic in as docile a manner as anything any manufacturer is producing today. He has a Corvette that lives up to its name in performance and style, and it's a blast to drive. By spending a lot of time instead of a lot of money, Dennis can have his cake and still have a little bit of icing on his top lip. You can see it when he smiles.