How many times have you been tempted to buy that all-new Corvette, equipped with the latest go-fast hardware, as soon as you saw it? Well, you can count John Margiotti among them. Just six days after Corvettes of Dallas rolled out this '07, its first Signature Series car, John bought it. It now calls John's garage in Grand Prairie, Texas, home.
As you can guess, there are a few additions that Corvettes of Dallas included. Tops among them is the APS twin-turbocharger kit, which combines a pair of liquid-cooled Garrett turbochargers with two air-to-air intercoolers, two air intakes and PCM retuning, to produce an LS2 engine that twists the dyno well into the 600s in both horsepower and torque at the rear wheels.
The Signature Series also includes a set of MHT Luxury Alloy wheels on Pirelli P-Zero tires, a custom billet grille, an SLP scooped hood, a GM Performance Parts rear spoiler, and special interior upgrades. That's it. That's what keeps the price tag down to $70,000 for a hardtop, or $75,000 for a convertible (which includes a GPS navigation system, as on the car currently on their showroom floor as of this writing).
Corvettes of Dallas had been offering various performance upgrades and conversion kits for years, but never before had it done a complete car until Bradley Fitzerman, the son of Corvettes of Dallas' Todd Fitzerman, suggested it. "He said, 'You're an idiot. What you need to do is to unveil your own Signature Series, so you can showcase your performance and other capabilities,'" says the senior Fitzerman. "Our performance technician, Sean Freese, had also been talking to me about taking one of the Corvettes, putting a twin turbo on it, and showcasing it in the dealership. Then Bradley said, 'If you're going to do that, you might as well go all the way.'"
Todd says that his parts manager, C.J. Rogers, suggested that they should upgrade the wheels if they were going the signature-car route. Also suggested: A hood different than the OEM piece. "But once I agreed to everything, from start to finish it was a three-week build time," says Todd of just how quickly the car came together once they began the project.
Todd says that the APS twin-turbo system was all they needed to add mechanically. "We didn't have to modify the suspension, didn't have to modify the brakes, didn't have to modify the lower end of the engine," he points out. "Everything was done and taken care of with the APS twin turbos and tuning." Taken care of to the tune of 625 rwhp, and almost 670 lb-ft of torque, as measured on their own DynoJet chassis dynamometer.
But numbers aren't the only story here. As you see in the under-car shots that Jerry Heasley took, the twin-turbo conversion is a well-engineered piece of art, per Todd. "It's a beautiful, clean installation-there's no cutting or remodeling of the undercarriage," he says, "It's built for the C6. APS does a beautiful job of giving the public a great product." Todd's partner, Stephen Perkins, says that their Signature Series C6 wasn't built to be a museum piece. "We built it as a daily driver," he says with pride. "We built it for a customer to drive with his wife to and from, and enjoy it. It's only when you step on the gas to those twin turbos, that they start doing what they're supposed to do."
Given its power output, this Corvettes of Dallas' Signature Series car may be in the same league as other tuner/conversion Corvettes, but not in the same price range. "People come in, and more often than not, they think that these Signature Series cars are priced at $100,000-plus," Todd says. "What I tell them is, it's a lot less than the new ZR1 that's coming out, it's less than a new '08 Z06, and it's a car that's customized. When you pull up in a parking lot, there aren't five others there like it!"
When John first saw the '07 Corvette, it wasn't quite love at first sight. But then, the car wasn't finished yet. His office is located near Corvettes of Dallas' Carrolton, Texas, dealership, and he's been a customer there for some time (John also has a '99 C5, by the way). "I went in for something there one day, and they told me, 'You've got to see this car. Here's what we're going to do to it. There's going to be a big unveiling at the Texas Motor Speedway,'" John recalls. "And I said, 'That thing? Why are you going to waste your time with that thing?' They said, 'Oh no-it's going to be amazing!' And I'm like, ah, whatever-just give me my stuff; I'm getting out of here!'" He says he forgot about it until he stopped in again a few weeks later. "I walked back in, and I walked right past it. I didn't even see it!" But, once he did, he says his jaw hit the floor. "I couldn't believe it was the same car. My first question was, 'Is it sold?' They said 'No,' and I asked, 'Can I buy it?' I bought it the next day."
The Signature Series Corvette did get its public showing, to a great response at the 19th Annual Lone Star Corvette Classic show at the Texas Motor Speedway. As mentioned previously, the company built another, based on a C6 convertible, and it can build one for you in about three weeks' time. Once it does, what's it like to drive? "It's insane," John says of driving a car with nearly 700 lb-ft of torque on tap. "They built an awesome machine. I took a guy for a ride the other day-he was telling me, 'Man, I know all about cars, and I've been driving this car and I've been driving that car'-and I've never seen somebody look more scared in my life! He grabbed for anything he could hold on to, and he couldn't stop smiling!' John adds that on a recent round-trip between Dallas and Killen, Texas, "The Beast" delivered 28 mpg. "That six-speed is really meant for touring," he says.
Does he have any advice for anyone who's thinking about getting a Signature Series C6 of their own? "Just do it. For the amount of money that Corvettes of Dallas wants for that car, it has come up with an option for the everyday guy." "This car puts you in a perfect place. It's faster than just about everything else on the road."