"Mid America had almost all the parts to build the Grand Sport body," Weiner recalls, "and the rest I secured from Corvette suppliers. I'd sit up at night making lists of all the parts I'd need. This was my hobby, my relaxation," he laughs, realizing his Grand Sport project took on the dimensions of an obsession.
While Leech built the body, Weiner labored over the drivetrain and chassis. The engine he installed is a 427ci built to L88 specs by Racing Head Service, cranked up to 550 hp. To that he added a Richmond five-speed with a Centerforce clutch. Most of the suspension parts were '84-'85 vintage, taking advantage of newer technology. By a stroke of luck, Weiner found a complete Corvette suspension in an advertising throw-away. "Some guy was rebuilding an Opel GT and figured out the Corvette's suspension was too big for the car. I gave him $400 and spent a lot of evenings cleaning up the aluminum so it looked like brand new."
In 1992, Weiner trailered the now-complete rolling chassis to Milan for the body drop. He found the springs for the coilovers to be a bit too soft, which the manufacturer Aldan corrected with a new set. There were other much larger hurdles to overcome, however.
A close friend of Weiner's had been working on the wiring harness, but he "fell off the face of the earth," Weiner remembers. "A year later I got a phone call. The guy needed me to help him prepare several years' worth of uncompleted tax returns. I told him I'd start his returns as soon as the wiring harness was finished." A few weeks later, Weiner gets a call from the wiring wizard, instructing him to go out to his garage and turn the ignition. The Grand Sport kicked over and Weiner turned his attention to the tax forms.
Weiner's Grand Sport re-creation made its debut at the '94 Joliet, Illinois, Corvettes Unlimited Show. In addition to car shows, he and the Grand Sport did some vintage racing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. "I didn't do it to win," Weiner says. "It was for me. I just wanted to see what it was like to drive on one of the great road courses in a Grand Sport."
That glorious experience almost ended abruptly in a moment of inattention. "I lost concentration at that sharp, first right-hander and came in way too hot," he says with a wince. "But the car drove itself right around the corner-it's way more capable than I. It's the most rewarding car I've ever driven. Lean on the throttle in Second gear, and you can feel the front end lift just like a dragster, unlike a road-course racer. The originals always ran light on the front end."
On the street, Weiner is not above baiting other cars. "At 80 or 90 mph, the car is just starting to wake up. I drop a gear and drive right away from them," he smiles. "It's a wolf in wolf's clothing."