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Tom Cook's '96 Corvette

This Collector Edition is Driven!

Ronnie Hartman Nov 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

If ever you’re driving the interstates and, out of nowhere, a silver streak zips by, it might just be Tom Cook in his ’96 Collector Edition Corvette. Until Tom found this Collector Edition, he was, as his wife put it, “going into Corvette withdrawal” after the sale of his ’68 just a few months before. He wanted the gorgeous Sebring Silver Collector Edition, and would have preferred the LT4 engine with an automatic. Since that combination wasn’t offered, Tom opted for this automatic with an LT1, knowing he could enhance its performance to rival the LT4. A mild buildup—a ported intake, CNC’d heads, a performance chip, and a few bolt-ons like short-tube headers, 1.6 roller rockers, rocker arms, and 3.45 gears—would do the trick. The C4 has just under 60,000 miles on the odometer and a few more are added each day. Tom so appreciates the handling and maneuverability of this special C4 that he drives it daily, rain or shine. “There’s nothing I’d rather drive in the rain,” Tom says. “With good tires and the Corvette’s engineered handling, you can’t beat its wet-road grip.” Tom is a product of the musclecar era and is, admittedly, an enthusiastic driver. He’s owned a variety of Corvettes over the years: the ’68, a ’73, and a modified ’84.

Tom’s full utilization of what the Corvette has to offer isn’t a worry, though. He’s a hands-on owner and does his own mechanical work on this and the other award-winning show cars he’s restored in his fully equipped home shop. “I learned to work on cars when gas stations were really ‘service stations’ and full-service was the norm,” he recalls. “In high school, I was the night manager of a full-service Shell station in central Illinois. This was a complete repair shop that you don’t find at today’s gas stations. Even then, and through college, I wrenched on my cars. I had a ’69 Firebird with a 400, a ’70 Cutlass 442, and a ’71 Dodge Charger with a 426 Hemi. After college, I bought a black ’73 Corvette that, to this day, is still a favorite.” Since Tom graduated from college with a degree and a new favorite, we’ll forgive his youthful transgressions with other marques.

Tom’s philosophy is that one should respect the Corvette’s beauty, grace, and collectability, but also enjoy driving it the way it was meant to be experienced.

We like your style, Tom.


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