When a novelist writes a best seller, it's far from the standard fare of everyday life. The recipe for a modern-day novel: a fall for forbidden lust; a grand desire to have what isn't one's own; and a truckload of heated passion necessary to weave a sordid tale.
Sounds fun to us!
So when we embarked on Corvette Fever's challenge to find Corvette owners who would, dare we say it, swap their most cherished possession, it seemed like the perfect tale. The challenge, we all agreed, would be to find willing participants.
Fortunately for us, one of our first introductions at the '03 Corvettes at Carlisle was Bobby Tow and his '01 Millennium Yellow Z06. This patriotic road rocket had nearly everything we were looking for to launch our Corvette swap concept. Here was a highly modified, retina-searing beauty. Best of all, Bobby had friends in his North Georgia Lanier Corvettes Unlimited club who would gladly swap their Corvettes for a chance to sample his.
While we were far from an illicit setting, the concept was compelling nonetheless. Bobby introduced us to Jack Jett and his Stars & Stripes '00 Torch Red coupe. At the same time, we met Brit Dave Rasmussen and his Black '95 LT1 wearing the Union Jack on its flank quarters. We made our proposal: drive the other's Corvettes and tell us the sordid details. I closed by saying, "It's kinda like wife-swapping, only legal."
"We're in," the trio enthusiastically replied.
'01 Millennium Yellow Z06Flowery Branch, Georgia
If you were to design the ultimate performance aftermarket Z06, you wouldn't have to look much further than Bobby Tow's. Bobby participates in NCCC autocross and open-track events at nearby Road Atlanta, which helps underscore the modifications the Corvette has undergone.
Under the hood, the LS6 is a tough package to improve, but Bobby has installed a 178-degree thermostat and the appropriate fan-control system, a Granatelli Motorsports mass airflow sensor, a Halltech forced-air induction system, and a Halltech ported throttle body. On the exhaust side, Breathless Performance Products headers feed Random Technology catalytic converters and a Corsa Competition Titanium 3-inch system with dual 4-inch tips.
Transferring the power to the six-speed is a lightweight aluminum flywheel and a Kevlar clutch-to-pressure plate, which is perfect for on-track demands.
This patriotic Z06 features the Stars & Stripes on the carbon-fiber hood, and a fixed headlamp system reminiscent of the C5-R was purchased from Breathless. To date, the Z06 has run a best quarter-mile of 12.38 seconds at 119 mph on street D.O.T. tires. A Baer EradiSpeed brake system hauls it down to a stop.
Jack Jett on Bobby Tow's Z06
"Bobby has changed about every bolt-on part other than the internals of the LS6 engine, so this car still has the wonderful reliability and fuel efficiency GM designed. Twenty years ago, an engine designer's fantasy would have been to create such a car that is capable of nearly 30 mpg!
"Once I got used to the Kevlar clutch and the immediate brakes, driving this Corvette was a triple 'E-ticket' ride. This car is the most fun I have ever had with my clothes on in 57 years. When you 'get on it,' it makes the most awesome sound I have ever heard.
"But, let's be honest, the true test of owning a car like Bobby's is the wife. My wife, Raye, rode back from Carlisle, 670 miles, with Bobby's wife, Connie. Upon their return I asked her how the trip was. She said, 'Fine, like riding back in our car. Why do you ask?'
"That's all I wanted to hear. As soon as the C6 Z06 is available, I plan to purchase one and drive it back from the museum delivery and straight into A.S.A.P. and say 'Set this car up exactly like Bobby's.' That's how much I love driving Bobby's Z06."
Dave Rasmussen on Bobby Tow's Z06
"As we say in England, 'Bloody 'ell!' Compared to my LT1 Corvette, there is a noticeable increase in torque and, when you couple that with the short gearshift on the six-speed, you get great shifts. That is, once you are comfortable with the Kevlar clutch. Man, it is quick! It is either in or out.
"In one section of road approximately three quarters of a mile in length, a series of esses proved the Z06's magnificent handling. Best of all, the brakes were a perfect match and definitely not stock.
"The aftermarket exhaust is a straight-through system and consequently very loud under full throttle, but not uncomfortably loud.
"Positives: Raw horsepower mixed with great handling and stopping power. Tuned to run on the track.
"Negatives: Harsh clutch requires increased revs in First to get off the line. This Corvette is definitely not driver-friendly in slow traffic. The loud exhaust is certainly not for everyone."
'95 Black LT1 CoupeAlpharetta, Georgia
"Razz," as he is called by his fellow Lanier Corvettes Unlimited club members, is a Brit through and through, but don't look for him driving a Lucas-equipped British sports car. Dave says, "I found the Corvette advertised in the Atlanta Auto Trader in January 2002. It was stated to be in excellent condition: new tires and only 37,000 original miles. When I called, the owner informed me it was available for viewing in Dublin, Georgia." Dave asked that the owner convince him it was worth the two-plus hour drive each way from Alpharetta. After a brief conversation, Dave was out the door.
Immediately upon purchasing, the performance parts were pouring in from Mid America, Eckler's, and Breathless Performance. Under the hood, a Vortex ram-air induction system feeds the 58mm Edelbrock throttle body via a Granatelli Motorsports mass airflow sensor. To keep the LT1 cool, Dave installed a 160-degree thermostat and throttle-body coolant bypass kit. A Hypertech Power Programmer and a Corsa Power Pulse 2 1/2-inch-diameter stainless steel exhaust system round out the modifications.
Dave says, "After installing the parts and adjusting the computer with the Hypertech programmer, the power increase and shift crispness were incredible. I was especially impressed with the aggressive automatic transmission mode!"
Dave tells us the Union Jack was added in September 2002 for the first year commemoration of 9/11. "Jack Jett inspired me to put it on since he already had added the American flag to the rear of his C5. With Jack's help, in a day and a half we had completed the low-adhesive vinyl appliqu.
Jack Jett on Dave Rasmussen's '95
"I'd never driven a C4 until this morning, but I made up my mind to listen to what this car had to say to me. Certainly, getting in was an adventure. It was like getting into a very, very low wheelbarrow that got narrow down at my feet. When I closed the door, it sounded like there were a lot of parts inside, not all of which were tight.
"Once inside, however, I immediately felt like I was part of the car, much more so than in my C5. After all, my left hip was inside the frame. It's a feeling I like and the C4 seats are better than the wimpy C5 seats.
"As we drove off looking for good roads to do our test, I noted that Dave's car was quieter than my C5. Much of this I attribute to the run-flats on my car. Along the way I did miss being able to see the road in front of me, but as we hit the first curves, this was completely forgotten. By the time we got through the first set of curves, I had already heard what this C4 was saying: 'If you care to listen, fine; if not, you're on your own.'
"I now, for the first time, see why the C4s are so beloved. For the first time, I realized why the C4s to this day are the preferred autocross and amateur race cars. In the right hands, the C4 responds quicker, turns tighter, and does not waste time asking the driver 'Are you sure you want to do this?' like the C5 does. The C5 is a wonderful car and does everything well. The C4 is different in that it was never designed or intended to do everything well. It was designed to get from point A to point B as quickly as the driver was qualified to drive it. That it does today better than a stock C5."
Bobby Tow On Dave Rasmussen's '95
"David's automatic transmission has a shift-improvement kit installed. The shift points are more crisp and firm than any stock automatic I have driven in the past. I like the styling and lines of the C4, but the front vision is not as good as the C5.
"The entry and exit of the C4 is more difficult, especially for my wife. She says, 'You fall into the seat and have to be pulled out upon exiting.' I don't have a problem with that design; I like how you feel as if you are in the cockpit of an F-16 fighter jet with the seat below the side rails, and the way the dash instruments and seat partially wrap around your body. It's the feeling of a race car, far more so than a C5.
"When I drove the C4 through the esses, it did not feel as stable as the C5. You have to manhandle the steering and throttle because the rear end wanted to come around as compared to the C5. The suspension is more stiff and harsh than the C5, but tolerable.
"Pros: Good styling lines, fun ride, great value for a Corvette. Love the Union Jack.
"Cons: I prefer a six-speed in lieu of the automatic. I didn't like the flex in the frame under hard cornering. Front vision is not as good. Entry and exit is not as good for the ladies."
'00 Torch Red Coupe
Flowery Branch, Georgia
Gracing our cover of this February 2004 issue, Jack Jett's C5 drives home a patriotic theme that few would dare to consider. Jack says, "The custom graphics were designed and supplied by AZ Auto as a tribute to those patriots of September 11." When applied to the Torch Red '00, we have to agree it is a fitting tribute and a statement of Jack's American pride.
With the classic Stars & Stripes motif, Jack carries over traditional automotive classic design. Don't believe the fallacy that chrome is meant for '57 Chevys. If you need a little motivation, check under the hood of this Corvette.
C5 Specialties supplied the full chrome engine package with detail painting by Paula. The eye-popping look is amplified with power additions including a Corsa Indy Pace Car exhaust system with Daytona tips and a K&N twin filter system.
A wide assortment of accessory items have tastefully made their way to this Corvette including Jack's own creation, Jettco drink holders. However, who's got time to drink anything when everybody's looking at this dramatic C5?
Dave Rasmussen On Jack Jett's '00
"Summed up in two words: people magnet. It's a beautiful example of a C5, tastefully done. Performance-wise, it is not tuned up to the level of Bobby's Z06, but certainly has more than enough torque without getting into racing mode.
"This car is far more driver friendly, especially in regards to the clutch and transmission. Lots of aesthetic changes to the engine compartment and the cabin have been made in the form of chrome and carbon fiber.
"In the same section of esses, the handling and brakes were very good, but not a match to the Z06. The aftermarket exhaust was loud, throaty, but not as objectionable as the Z06.
"Positives: An eye-catcher with performance to boot. A treat to drive! Fully loaded and I loved the heads-up display.
"Negatives: Store a large supply of chrome cleaner."
Bobby Tow On Jack Jett's '00
"The C5 coupe ride is smoother and less harsh than my Z06. The LS1 engine has plenty of smooth, predictable horsepower and the Corsa Indy exhaust with Daytona tips has great sound. The brakes on this car are better than with stock rotors.
"The C5 coupe also offers more luggage and storage capacity compared to the Z06 or the C4. I did not like the EMT run-flat tires. They were noisy and do not grip well in the cornering department. I felt as if the EMT tires would break loose under extreme hard cornering. Overall, the C5 coupe was very stable in normal cornering and would be the best of the three Corvettes on a long road trip.
"Pros: Great travel Corvette. Good, but soft suspension. Great looks. Very patriotic.
"Cons: Replace the EMT run-flat tires with Goodyear F1s or Michelin Pilots for a smoother, quieter ride and better traction and grip. I would not like all the work it takes to keep the chrome clean under the hood."