"You can't have your cake and eat it too" is a ridiculous saying. What else would you do with a cake? Wear it? Put it on a shelf? Leave it out in the rain? What exactly does the saying mean to imply? That once laboring to bake and decorate a cake you somehow aren't expected to actually enjoy the fruits of your labor? That's a ludicrous idea. Rather, the saying should be, "If you want to eat a whole cake, you better make it yourself."
Enjoying the spoils of hard work is part of the American dream. The idea that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps from impoverished circumstances to enjoy a successful life and eventual peaceful retirement is what fuels thousands of immigrants to leave their native countries and move to the United States every year. And what better vehicle to embody the true spirit of the American dream than the Chevrolet Corvette. Coming from humble but optimistic beginnings, the tiny roadster first aimed its sights at the European two-seaters. But with the hot rod craze in full swing, the General redirected its direction towards the V-8 domestic market. There, the Corvette would flourish. Larger engines, new innovations such as fuel injection, advances in suspension and handling equipment, and sharper, more aggressive styling would cement the Corvette as one of the most iconic American cars ever.
Since its modest early development, the Corvette has grown into a true performance vehicle, with more and more aftermarket and private parties contributing to the Corvette's legacy. In conjunction with the already stout factory performance, aftermarket tuned Vettes are some of the most formidable vehicles on the road today.
Take, for example, Dan and Gina Cassinelli's '96 Callaway Supernatural Grand Sport. By 1996, Chevrolet was offering a series of fearsome performance options. Fresh from the success of the ZR-1, GM chose to take their legendary 350 small-block, then labeled the LT1, and tweak it slightly, redubbing it the LT4. The new LT4 sported thirty more horses than its more subdued sibling. The LT4 was fitted with higher compression (10.8:1 versus the previous 10.4:1), new redesigned aluminum heads, a revised camshaft, Crane roller rockers, and a greatly improved throttle body. The LT4 engine was available in 1996 as either an optional powerplant on top of the base Corvette or the standard engine for the venerable Grand Sport, a performance package that delivered more than just good looks. Mandatory in Admiral Blue with a white center stripe and red hash marks on the driver side front fender, the GS came with the aforementioned lung mated to a performance bred six-speed manual transmission, as well as ZR-1 wheels, painted black, and racing tires and optional suspension upgrades that could be individually selected.
When it came time for Dan to purchase his new Corvette he didn't want to be just like everyone else. So, rather than going down the paved road of the usual, he chose to create his own version of a Grand Sport. His Corvette was ordered in Artic White with a black leather interior, but with the LT4 small-block and obligatory six-speed gear box. The braking components typical to the Grand Sport were also selected. As the original owner of this specially ordered machine, Dan was the driver who christened this Corvette's first time out on the road. He is no stranger to the allure of Corvettes, having previously owned a '64, a '77, an '86, and a '95. But this time around, something was different. The Vette was a screamer from the factory, no doubt about that, but Dan still wanted more.
Dan took his C4 to the automotive savants at Callaway Corvettes for some serious overhauling. Needless to say, when Callaway gets their hands on a client's Vette, they don't leave any inch untouched. Callaway started by pulling out the LT4 and doing most of their magic there. The 350 was stroked and bored out to a 383, thumping out a dynoed 450 ponies and equal lb-ft of torque. The Supernatural kit offered by Callaway still kept the fuel-injected plant naturally aspirated, but with production numbers like this, it's almost not even necessary. Callaway also inserted their own coilover suspension to each corner and had large Pirelli tires wrapped around the polished, massive CCW 19-inch rims. Customized Callaway exhaust tunnels the expelled gases out the rear fascia, eliminating any restrictions that the stock tubes might have had.
Last was the aesthetics of the car. With the interior barely touched except for some gauge work and a shifter knob, the signature Aero body kit was installed on the '96, sporting the large fore and aft wheel vents and front and rear fascias giving it that distinguished Callaway look. The car wasn't finished yet, though. Dan opted to have the Artic White body split by a large Grand Sport-style black stripe as well as all the original GS labeling. This distinguished the Corvette as the single white Callaway Grand Sport produced, as well as having the only red Callaway valve covers ever created. Dan never wanted his Corvette to blend in, and he got his wish.
Since taking the striped Grand Sport back home, he's given that gas pedal hell. To prove that Dan's right foot has a temper, he sent us a photocopy of some toll booth receipts from the New Jersey Turnpike that show some pretty admirable-though dangerous on public roads-times (it was in the middle of the night, if that makes any of you out there feel better). the Corvette attends a few shows here and there with the Richmond County Corvette Club when possible, but in between those weekends, the Callaway is given ample space to open up and stretch its long legs.
Buried deep underneath all that General Motors' technology lays the heart of a hot rod: a stroked and bored small-block 350 Chevrolet punched out to 383 ci and making a whopping 450 ponies and 450 lb-ft of torque. REAR VIEW ::: As the only white Grand Sport Callaway with the Supernatural LT4, Dan Cassinelli's '96 Corvette carries a lot of custom badging and labeling that lets everyone know who they're dealing with.