Sometimes the Corvette of your dreams isn't the first one that you lay eyes upon. In the case of Tom and Melissa Jenco, their dream Vette-the one you see here-was the second. Back in 2006, the Jencos had been married just six months. "My wife said, 'Start looking for a Corvette if you want one,'" Tom recalls. The first one they found that interested them was located in Texas. "We were going to fly down there, see the car, pay for it, and drive it back. But the guy didn't want to do that-he wanted to see what he could get for it on eBay. My wife said, 'Forget it,' and she ended up finding this Corvette on the Internet."
What Melissa found was a 2,300-mile Machine Silver '04 Z06 whose owner was much closer to the Jenco's Springfield, Massachusetts, home-north of Boston, in fact-and who had a new Corvette on order. Melissa called him and asked if he would be around over the coming Columbus Day weekend. The meeting was set, and the Jencos drove east to look at the Z06 in person. As Tom remembers, "As soon as we turned the corner, we saw him drying the car off in the driveway, and she said, 'That's the car!'"
The deal was made, and the Jencos took their Vette home. It already had a few upgrades from the production Z06 equipment, including a Magnuson supercharger. Unfortunately, the supercharger install hadn't gone as easily as planned, as trouble codes kept popping up whenever he drove his new acquisition. "I took it down to Eddie and Billy at Mongillo Motorsports in New Haven, Connecticut. They tuned it and I haven't had a problem since."
Tom has had more powertrain updates and upgrades added by Mongillo's since then, including the nitrous oxide and methanol injection systems and a "Stage 3" Tremec T-56 six-speed gearbox. Up next is a Monster clutch, to be installed for a very practical reason. "We had some problems with it last time we had it on the dyno, when we were tuning it with the methanol," he says. "The clutch slipped when it was heading up toward 600 hp."
An exhaust system up to the job of handling that much power took more than a little bit of work to put on. "I called George Kook Jr. at Kook's Exhaust in Long Island, and he said to bring it down so they could put headers on the car," says Tom, after a friend of his who'd done exhaust work for 25 years couldn't get the headers on. "He had the car apart for almost a week and a half, and still could not get them on. So I spent the time going down to Long Island to get it done. When I got back, one of my buddies who does a lot of my powdercoating and metal-polishing work called me up and said, 'What in the hell was that? It sounded like an open-throttle NASCAR race car on a straightaway!'"
When it comes to Corvettes, upgrades to the powertrain also call for updates to the rest of the car, and the Jenco's C5 is no exception. "I've put a DTE rear brace in it, and I've put a couple of Hotchkiss sway bars on it," Tom says about the additions to his Z06's chassis, which also include big Wilwood brakes at each corner. "We'll be upgrading the engine mounts when we replace the clutch in the next couple weeks," he adds.
As if this one-of-967 '04 Z06's painted Machine Silver wasn't distinctive enough after all that had been done mechanically, the Jencos added plenty of upgrades to the body, too. An MCM carbon-fiber hood replaced the stock one, and a Caravaggio Corvettes rear wing went on.
All these changes to this Z06 weren't just Tom's ideas. This car has been a Tom-and-Melissa project since day one. "She's the one who did most of the work with me on it," Tom says. "She loves working on the car. She can't drive a standard shift, but she loves this car!"