E85 Ethanol 1998 Chevrolet Corvette - Corn-Fed Sleepers

Two Friends Take Route E85 With Their Corvettes

Jake Weyer May 1, 2008 0 Comment(s)
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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.

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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.

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