There are at least two schools of thought when it comes to modifying a Corvette. One is to make it stand out by adding bodywork, wheels, big brakes, high-zoot interior trim and/or sound systems, as well as other "high-visibility" items like custom paint and graphics. Another would modify a Corvette in so subtle a manner that you'd never know it had been modified, until a new one parks next to it.
Bobby Chestnut's '06 Corvette is definitely a product of the latter, by an owner who has an advanced degree from the College of American Performance Automobile Knowledge. "I grew up with musclecars," he says from his Jasper, Indiana, home. "My first three cars were GTOs, because my Dad was a Pontiac nut, and he was best buddies with the Pontiac dealer in town." His affection for American performance wasn't limited to Pontiacs-or to steel-bodied cars in general. "I was always racing Corvettes for buddies of mine, but I could never afford one-and the insurance on it-until a long time after I got married," Bobby recalls. "I'd always liked Corvettes, and I'd always raced 'em, but when you get married, it's not a good family car. It took me a little while to own my first one."
He didn't get his first Corvette until he was 30, trading a Pro Streeted Camaro Z28 for a '72 Stingray boasting factory-original LT1 power under its domed hood. Since then, he's had several other Corvettes, including an LS5-powered '71 Stingray that we featured here in Corvette Fever several years ago. That 454-powered Shark, however, went away before the '06 C6 you see here arrived in Bobby's garage. In truth, its departure made the '06's arrival possible. "I actually traded the '71 for this car," he says. "I really liked that '71 big-block (LS5) car, but a guy calls up one day, and he asked 'Do you want to sell your '71?' I told him, 'Not really,' and he then asked, 'Would you like to trade?' and I said, 'What have you got?'" It turned out that guy was a Chevrolet dealer in Texas, who wanted Bobby's C3 for his collection. "He had five or six brand-new C6s, and he said, 'Pick one!' I looked, and this one is the one that I picked."
But before it left for Texas, the C3 left behind some fond memories. As Bobby recalls, "The '71 was a nice car. I took it to shows-I drove it down to Bowling Green four times in the last year that I had it, and I won Celebrity Choice all four times I was down there with it!" But, alas, while it was a good car, he could never drive it every day-an aspect of C5/C6 Corvettes that endear them to their owners. "This car, I thought, I can drive every day, it's a fast car, even dead stock," says Bobby of his C6. "It handles good, gets great gas mileage, it's comfortable-I just get more enjoyment out of it."
That enjoyment increased when Bobby decided to make his '06 look more like a same-vintage Z06, starting with fender badging. "Of course, C4s, C5s and C6s don't come with fender badges, unless you've got a Z06," he says. "So, I now manufacture and sell badging for the different C6 engines." He sells them online via eBay and at his own CorvetteForSale.com website. Then came other upgrades, inside and out. "I changed the ground effects, and put on a Classic Design Concepts kit with a new lower front spoiler, rear spoiler, and tunnel in back," says Bobby, who's also tinted the windows, added a set of Lloyd's mats and red Speed Lingerie around the cockpit, and covered the factory writing and stickers on the sun visors, fuse box, and the top of the radiator.
Lest you think all of the changes to Bobby's '06 were cosmetic, he also lowered the C6 via the factory bolts on the rear, added a Vararam induction system and a stainless steel Borla exhaust system. And, to really make the most of his powertrain mods, he called in some outside help. "It was tuned by Chuck at Corvettes of Westchester," says Bobby. "He spent three hours or so on my car. Everything works just fine-it runs quicker, the cooling fans come on quicker. It's a really good tune overall, with no problems at all. He's a really nice guy, and he spends a lot of individual time on each Corvette that he tunes."