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!"
What the Jencos have is a Vette that's built for go and show, equally. "It's fun to take it for a drive," Tom says. Where do they find roads that are up to what this Corvette can deliver? "Up in the Berkshires and in the northwest part of Massachusetts, there's a lot of twisties and stuff like that," says Tom. He adds that they're in a club (Super Car Road Trips) with some exotic-car owners, and they've impressed them in a big way. "The first time that I met them and pulled up with the Z06, it was really quiet," Tom recalls. "We started doing some road rallying with them, and they were shocked. They were like, 'Oh. My. God!'"
No less impressed have been the judges at the shows from New England to Virginia that the Jencos have entered their Z06 in. "Two years ago we showed it at the Boston World of Wheels. We took Best in Class," says Tom. "We had three of the judges come over three times that weekend and ask about it. The final judge came up and said, 'We've been checking out the car all weekend long. Every time I came over, I saw something different that I didn't see the last time.'"
Their show successes (at events that they drive their Z06 to) have resulted in a room of their house filled with trophies, including one that Melissa loves, per Tom. "We went to a show in Connecticut, and we didn't know anything about it beforehand-it was more of an imports-and-lowriders show. If you remember the movie Cars and the Piston Cup in it, we got a big silver-and-gold Best In Show trophy like that at this show. It's incredible!"
Also incredible to many Vette lovers: the mileage that they put on their C5. "We've put 25,000 miles on it over the past 3 1/2 years," says Tom. "It isn't on the road during the winter, but it's driven in good weather six months out of the year."
If you're looking for your first Corvette, Tom has some advice that may come in handy for those looking for their 21st, as well." Don't take your first choice, unless you're sure about it. Take your time and find exactly what you want."
One more thing. You may notice from the picture of Tom and Melissa that they're younger than more than a few Vette owners. "I'm a 42-year-old guy who's a highway maintenance worker who got what he wanted," says Tom, who adds that he waited 38 years to get his first Vette almost four years ago. As you can see, the wait was well worth it.
Data File: '04 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Owned by: Tom and Melissa Jenco, Springfield, Massachusetts
Modified original '04 Corvette Z06 body
Modifications: MCM carbon fiber hood, Breathless Performance carbon fiber canards, Caravaggio Corvettes rear wing, Apsis front/rear mudguards, C5 billet chrome fender blades, and carbon fiber rear brake ducts
Paint: Machine Silver basecoat/clearcoat (original color); Painting/paint prep by Rob Tringali at Next Generation Powder Coating and Metal Polishing, Westfield, Massachusetts
Frame: Modified production '04 Corvette Z06
Modifications: DTE rear strut brace
Suspension: (Front) Modified '04 Corvette Z06 with Koni adjustable shocks and Hotchkiss anti-sway bar (Rear) Modified '04 Corvette Z06 with Koni adjustable shocks and Hotchkiss anti-sway bar, polyurethane bushings
Steering: Original GM rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
Brakes: Wilwood four-wheel disc brakes (six-piston calipers in front, four-piston calipers in rear) power-assisted
Wheels: Chrome-plated production Z06 wheels with inner barrels powdercoated candy metallic and "Jake" center caps, 18x9 1/2-inch front and 19x11-inch rear
Tires: BFGoodrich g-Force T/A, 275/35R18 front, 295/35R19 rear (with a spare pair of 305/35R18 Mickey Thompson Drag radials for the rear)
Modified GM LS6 overhead valve V-8
Engine: Modified/tuned/worked on by Mongillo Motors, New Haven, Connecticut; and Kevin Lalonda at Balise Chevrolet, Springfield, Massachusetts
Modifications: Magnuson supercharger with smaller pulley, nitrous oxide injection, dual methanol injection
Displacement: 346 cubic inches (5.7L)
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Cylinder heads: Production '04 LS6 aluminum
Ignition: MSD coil-on-plug modified with NGK spark plugs/plug wires, Magnuson "Magnavolt" digital voltage controller (for supercharger), Snow Performance "Stage 3" Methanol Kit
Induction: Vararam B2 ported/polished throttle-body
Camshaft: Production '04 LS6
Exhaust: Kooks' Headers (17/8-inch diameter), 3-inch-diameter stainless steel exhaust pipe, Billy Boat "Bullets" mufflers
Cooling: Original '04 Corvette Z06 radiator
Horsepower: 557 @ 5400 rpm* (Rear-wheel on dyno)
Torque: 485 ft-lb @ 5400 rpm* (Rear-wheel on dyno)(* = at 9.5 pounds of boost without nitrous....and a slipping clutch!)
"Stage 3" modified Tremec T-56 six-speed manual transaxle with Hurst shifter
Modified: Mongillo Motors, New Haven, Connecticut
Modified original '04 Corvette Z06
Modifications: Custom stereo console for center/custom JL Audio amplifiers, custom amp rack, wiring for amplifiers, polished nitrous oxide bottle, chrome seat hoops, custom fire extinguisher bracket
Modified by: Rob, Ryan, and Judd at Next Generation Powder Coating and Metal Polishing, Westfield, Massachusetts
Seats: Black leather
Carpets: Original GM black nylon cut-pile with Lloyd's custom floor mats.
Instrumentation: production '04 Corvette Z06 (0-200 mph speedometer, 0-7,500 rpm tach, plus ammeter, fuel level, oil pressure, and coolant temperature gauges)
Sound system: Pioneer D2 head unit with separate DVD/visual system, JL Audio front separate speakers, Coaxial JL Audio subwoofers
HVAC: Production '04 Corvette Z06