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!