In my June editorial, I briefly mentioned our brand-new C5 project car-Project C5X. We have been working on the plans for this build for several months, and we were finally able to hook up with Mid America Motorworks (MAM) as the key sponsor for the project. I have been personal friends with Mike Yager, chief cheerleader of MAM, for many years, and I am excited we are finally getting to work together on a big project. Mike is a visionary like me, and together we have come up with some killer plans for this car that we will discuss in more detail next month. Let me just say, we plan on building this C5 with some of the more basic upgrades you would consider on your own C5, but still plowing some new ground that hasn't been covered in any other Corvette magazine. Someone once said, "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got." That being said, we like doing innovative builds so you, the readership, can be exposed to new ideas that we can all benefit from.
When we first started looking for a C5 for this project, we had to consider several avenues of approach. Plan A was we could buy a high-mileage car (100,000 or more miles), and then just begin replacing every component as we went. After replacing all the "necessaries," we could then begin the performance side of the build. The upside to this choice is the initial investment for the car would be lower, but the probability of a major breakdown would be high, especially while we were out touring the country. We have a fairly aggressive show schedule plan for this C5 once we really get rolling so we can't be breaking down and missing those all-important dates. Plan B was to get a lower-mileage car (50,000 miles); then the risk would be less, but the breakdown probability would still be very real. The Plan B car would obviously be more expensive, but still not unreasonable. Plan C was to search for a low-mileage car (30,000 miles or less), and then we would at least be safer in the reliability column. We would have to spend more for a low-mileage car, but peace of mind always has a price. We decided Plan C was the best choice and began the search in earnest.
We looked for several weeks on the Internet and put out feelers to all our Corvette contacts. We were pretty specific in what we were searching for: a '99-'01 Torch Red six-speed coupe with as many options as possible. We decided on a red car because the car would eventually be wrapped with a decal package that needed to color-coordinate with the corporate MAM colors and logo. We didn't want to paint the car unless absolutely necessary so we decided to wrap the car due to time and overall expense savings. After coming up empty handed many times, we began to think we would never find what we were looking for. Finally, we located a nice '99 Torch Red car in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it looked like we may have found the right car. The only drawbacks: the car had a little higher mileage than we wanted; it had fewer options; and it would have to be shipped from Tulsa back to Florida, which obviously would mean more of an investment.
In the meantime, Kim Madsen (of Corvette Restoration AZ fame) suggested we call a friend of his at American Sportscar Center (ASC) in Atlanta. This is one of the premier Corvette dealerships in the country, and they usually carry at least 100-150 Corvettes in stock at all times. We checked out their extensive listing on their killer web site and were seriously impressed with the selection.
We called ASC General Manager/VP Jimmy Almond and talked about several possible candidates, but nothing seemed to jell. We shared with him we were still considering buying the Tulsa car and couldn't wait forever to start the project. Jimmy asked for 24-48 hours so he could look under all the rocks in Atlanta for our dream Corvette. We agreed. The next day he called and said he had found the exact car we were looking for. we were seriously impressed with the effort ASC was expending to find our car, but told him we needed more info. He immediately drove across Atlanta, picked up the car, brought it back to the shop, did a 100-point inspection, and then sent us an extensive set of photos via e-mail. This was very impressive service to say the least. This was the car alright!
Within a few weeks, I was on a plane to Atlanta. Jimmy and his partner, Greg Rush, picked me up at the airport. When we walked outside the Atlanta airport, we noticed a cool piece of art I hadn't seen before (very odd as much as I fly through Atlanta each year)-a very large suitcase with all kinds of license plates on it. We thought it would be fun to take a photo of Jimmy and me in front of the art. We then headed right to the dealership, which is about 30 minutes away.
When we arrived at their dealership, I was amazed at the number of top-shelf Corvettes that were in their current inventory. From C1 through C6, seemingly all the Corvette model years were covered. Some of the cars were parked outside, and some were in nicely appointed showrooms. The dealership also has a complete service and detail center to keep their entire inventory in top condition. An added bonus for the ASC Corvette buyer is The Last Detail Corvette Parts and Accessories is located in the same building. You can specify any new accessorizes for your Corvette after the sale, and the car can be delivered with your own personal touch when you take delivery.
After taking the nickel tour and served a catered lunch, I was finally introduced to my new best friend-the '00 Torch Red coupe. The car looked fantastic. ASC had taken the liberty of correcting the few imperfections that were on the car, and it looked awesome. We quickly checked the car out, and then I asked if the car could be put up on the lift in their fully equipped service department. the car was then moved for a serious final inspection. This inspection was so thorough, we decided to document the procedures they use on every car they sell, and we will share those procedures with you as a C5/C6 buyers guide in the next month or so. As you can imagine, the car looked great from all angles. We then took the car out for a quick spin. The car pulled hard and strong and had no problems whatsoever during the test drive. With less than 30,000 miles on the clicker, the car felt brand-new. We came back to the dealership to finalize the purchase agreement papers, where ASC gave us a great deal. The whole purchase process with American Sportscar Center was the most fruitful and stress-free car purchase process I have ever encountered. Everyone at ASC was personable and professional.
Then is was time to head back home. Once we cleared the always-nasty Atlanta traffic, it was clear sailing all the way to Tampa. The 500-mile trip home was one of the most enjoyable we have ever encountered.
stay tuned for more about our new Project C5X.