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E85 Ethanol 1998 Chevrolet Corvette - Corn-Fed Sleepers

Two Friends Take Route E85 With Their Corvettes

Jake Weyer May 1, 2008
Ccrp_0805_001_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette 2_corvettes_side_by_side 2/15

Owners ::: Ryan (left) and Cory helped each other build their cars in their garages.

Flashy paint aside, nothing about Ryan Custodio's and Cory Gallus' Corvettes seemed too out of the ordinary as the cars sat waiting their turn for a spin on the dyno at a show last summer. A peek through the windows revealed discrete six-point rollcages, but no other modifications. Things looked to be mostly stock under the aftermarket hoods, except for the nitrous setup on Ryan's car, which also wore a set of CCW wheels. No big deal.

But when the cars roared to life, it became obvious something about these C5s was really different. Big cubes were definitely behind the deep, vicious exhaust notes, and the smell... what was that? E85. At about 105-octane, the 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gas blend is race fuel on the cheap. It's about a buck cheaper than premium in southern Minnesota, where Ryan and Cory tear up the boulevards in their homebuilt, daily-driven, 427-cube corn guzzlers that'll blow the doors off an unsuspecting street racer.

Ccrp_0805_002_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette Chevrolet_corvettes_side_by_side 3/15

Nose to Nose ::: Both of these Vettes can walk softly, but carry a seriously big stick. There's no shortage of corn where Cory and Ryan live; it's almost impossible to drive anywhere without seeing it.

Whether a Corvette in any form can be considered a sleeper is up for debate, but other than the look-at-me paint, these two C5s aren't throwing much on the table. You might say they're super-fast wolves in sheep's clothing. Both cars have been dyno'd at more than 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels on motor alone, run low 11s in the quarter-mile, and are capable of running on E85, gasoline, or a mixture of both with no tuning in between.

Cory and Ryan don't have a longtime love affair with Corvettes or corn, and the development of their cars was somewhat by chance. The guys have been buddies since the late '90s when they met at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, where they earned degrees in automotive service. Cory grew up in a Mopar household and helped his dad restore a '68 Dodge Super Bee when he was 15. Ryan didn't have a history of building cars, but quickly got into the hobby after meeting Cory.

Showing no allegiance to the Pentastar, Cory's first solo project was an '86 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z that he converted to an LT1 with a six-speed. He sold that car to Ryan, and it wasn't long before the friends were both ready for something with a little more power.

They both wanted a late-model project car that could go fast and be comfortable at the same time. "We both knew we wanted to modify them and still be able to have air conditioning," Ryan said. They both liked the look and drive of the C5s, so after saving up some cash from their jobs as mechanics-Cory works on Audis and Porsches for a living, Ryan wrenches on Hondas-they purchased their first Corvettes. Cory's was a headers and cam car; Ryan's had a stock motor and some minor suspension and exhaust modifications.

Ccrp_0805_003_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette Grey_corvette_front_view 4/15

Silver Streak ::: Brad Russel of Watertown, South Dakota, sprayed the Sebring Silver paint and flame job on Ryan's car.

Cory went to TPI Specialties and Cottrell Racing Engines in Chaska, Minnesota, to get the 427ci LS-1 built after an over-revving accident at the track. Ryan followed suit after a heads and cam swap didn't deliver the power he was looking for.

The block in Cory's car is bored 4.060 inches and holds a 4.125-stroke Lunati crank and a TPI Specialties cam with 0.629 inches of lift and 251-degrees duration at 0.050 inches of lift. TPI Specialties-ported LS-1 heads and an LS-6 intake with oval ports sit atop the block.

Ryan's motor is nearly identical, but was built to make 11.5:1 compression to Cory's 12.1:1. It also features a TNT Stage 1 nitrous kit jetted for a 150hp shot. Cory and Ryan made many other modifications to their cars including suspension and exhaust upgrades and interior restoration.

Ccrp_0805_007_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette Orange_corvette_front_view 8/15

Orange is In ::: Cory's car originally was pewter. Greg Underdahl from Fast Lane Sport in Minnesota laid down the outrageous '03 Lamborghini Orange hue.

The Corvettes were built as pump gas cars, but the fuel of choice changed in the summer of 2006 when friend Andy Wicks, owner of DynoTune Mobile Chassis Dyno Service in Watertown, South Dakota, asked to use the cars as guinea pigs for a flex-fuel tune. Cory and Ryan didn't hesitate to agree. "He said he'd done his research and having taken them completely apart as much as we have-I mean we've had them completely gutted, both subframes dropped, we've had them torn apart to nothing-we knew if anything did happen, we could fix it," Cory said.

They didn't have to fix anything. With little more than software and the addition of 60-pound injectors, Wicks made a complete flex-fuel conversion. A little more than a year later, with no changes to engine seals and using stock fuel lines, the cars are still running great.

"The corrosion stuff everyone worries about is pretty much nonexistent," said Wicks, who now sells handheld flex-fuel tuners for late-model Corvettes for $450.

Cory and Ryan said they haven't experienced any problems. The biggest advantage is the elimination of detonation, which was a problem when using pump gas in the high-compression motors. "You really get more power out of it," Ryan said. "It wouldn't detonate like on a pump gas, so you can push the envelope a little bit more."

E85's high alcohol content also causes the fuel to burn cleaner. Cory and Ryan say the black carbon specs that used to litter their rear bumpers are gone now. The old smell is gone, too, but they don't mind. "You get used to it," Ryan said.

The cars lost a few miles per gallon, but considering the price difference between E85 and high-octane pump gas or race fuel, Cory and Ryan don't see it as a drawback. Wicks said the only downside he's encountered with E85 is extended crank issues in temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, which could be a problem if you think January in Minnesota is prime time for cruising. Cory and Ryan don't recommend it.

But their cars are out nearly every day when there's no snow on the ground. And when there is, the guys are tearing the Corvettes apart in their garages on nothing fancier than jackstands and concrete, until it's time to open up some nostrils, if not eyes, at the next show.

Ccrp_0805_011_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette E85_corvette_engine 12/15

Unstealthy ::: Cory tried to get Ryan to hide the nitrous setup, but to no avail. The bay is still clean and simple. The TNT Stage 1 nitrous kit is the only thing under Ryan's hood that hints at the car's capabilities.

'98 Corvette Coupe
Ryan Custodio
New market, MN

TPIS 7.0L LS1 427, 11.5:1 compression
TPIS Stage 3 heads
TPIS ZL-17 cam with 251/251 degrees duration at .050, .629/.629-inch lift, and 112 degrees of lobe separation
TPIS oil cooler
TPIS modified LS6 intake
TPIS .90mm throttle body
Blackwing air intake with large air bridge

Stock T56 six-speed with B&M short-throw shifter
Cartek clutch
Cartek adjustable master cylinder
3.73:1 gears, hardened output shaft, and titanium clutch preload springs

TPIS headers and Random Tech cross-pipe, no cats (Minnesota doesn't have emissions checks)
TPIS mufflers

Ccrp_0805_012_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette Corvette_interior_with_roll_cage 13/15

Near-Stock Office ::: Ryan's car retains the stock interior. The cage is a six-point from Wolfe Racecraft.

Stock Corvette springs, lowered 2 inches
QA1 12-way adjustable shocks

Baer Eradispeed rotors
Goodridge stainless steel brake lines

Wheels and tires
CCW SP500s, 18x10 front and 18x11 back, wrapped in Nitto 555R2 rubber, 285/35/18 front, 305/35/18 rear

Power adder
TNT Stage 1 nitrous kit with TNT power ring, purge kit, and wide-open throttle
Nitrous Express panel switch
MSD window switch
Jetted for a 150hp shot

Fuel Delivery
Motron 60-pound injectors
Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump
Adjustable fuel-pressure regulator

E85 flex fuel tuning by Andy Wicks at DynoTune
Mobile Chassis Dyno Service in Watertown, South Dakota

Sebring Silver paint and flames laid down by Brad Russsel in Watertown, South Dakota
Kenne Bell supercharger hood
Caravaggio rear spoiler
Debadged Corvette emblems
Wolfe Racecraft six-point rollcage

Ccrp_0805_013_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette E85_corvette_engine 14/15

Appears Stock ::: Cory wanted to keep his engine bay looking stock, but it raises plenty of eyebrows when he turns the key.

'98 Corvette Coupe
Cory Gallus
Prior Lake, MN

TPIS/Cottrell Racing Engines 7.0L LS1 427, 12.1:1 compression
Lunati forged internals
TPIS ported LS1 heads
TPIS TPIS ZL-17 cam with 251/251 degrees duration at .050, .629/.629-inch lift, and 112 degrees of lobe separation
TPIS modified oval port LS6 intake
TPIS oval throttle body
Blackwing air intake

Stock T56 six-speed with Kirban short throw shifter
McLeod Kevlar twin-disc clutch
McLeod adjustable master cylinder
3.73:1 gears, hardened output shaft

Ccrp_0805_014_z E85_ethanol_1998_chevrolet_corvette Corvette_interior_view_with_roll_cage 15/15

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing ::: Cory redid the upholstery himself. His cage is also a six-point from Wolfe Racecraft.

TPIS headers and Random Tech cross-pipe, no cats
TPIS mufflers

Stock Corvette springs, lowered 2 inches
QA1 12-way adjustable shocks
Poly bushing kit from DRM

Baer Eradispeed rotors, ZO6 pads
Goodridge stainless steel brake lines

Wheels and Tires
Factory Y2K wheels, Nitto 555R2 rubber

Fuel Delivery
Accel injectors
TPIS adjustable fuel pressure regulator

E85 flex-fuel tuning by Andy Wicks at DynoTune Mobile Chassis Dyno Service in Watertown, South Dakota

'03 Lamborghini Orange paint by Greg Underdahl at Fast Lane Sports
Caravaggio hood
Two-tone interior
Wolfe Racecraft six-point rollcage
RCI five-point harness



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