"406 ON A NITROUS FIX." That's what the Bow Tie decal on the side of the hood says. It's just a subtle reminder to myself of the long hours, and hard, work that went under the hood.
I've been into Corvettes my whole life. I had a beautiful '77 that I drove until my third daughter was born. My wife at the time wouldn't let me put a child seat on the luggage rack, so the car had to go. Soon after, I purchased a severely injured '67 that was economically un-repairable and ended up using the engine and tranny, along with a nitrous enhancer, in a customized Chevy LUV pickup-but my quest for another Corvette never diminished.
In 1996, I purchased a '85 from a friend in Northern California. He was the original owner, and was able to order it through a dealer outside of the smog-ruled Golden State, so it doesn't have the mandated smog equipment. Two of the nicest options on the car were the transparent roof panel, and the Z51 performance handling package. The car had been immaculately taken care of, and also updated with several performance modifications, including an Edelbrock TPI intake mainfold, large-tube runners, Competition Cams roller-tipped rockers, a K&N filter, and a Grant Formula steering wheel.
I flew from El Paso, Texas, to Northern California to pick up the car, and had a wonderful drive home. The initial bond between an owner and their new car is special, and that first drive was great. Once back home, I updated the car with some minor performance modifications and touches to make it my Corvette. Within a year I upped the ante even more with TPIS engineered parts, a HyperTech chip and fan switch, a complete MSD ignition system, SLP Forced Air Induction, March underdrive pulleys, and a complete Dynomax and Hooker AeroChamber cat-back exhaust system. The 350 was performing better than ever, and the car was a joy to drive. But as with any performance enthusiast, I had the need for even more speed.
At the beginning of 1999, with a major push from my friends, I purchased a 400ci small-block, and tons of go-fast goodies. The engine was bored to 406 ci and fit with a SCAT crank, Speed-Pro 11:1 pistons, and Pink rods before it was all balanced. The Holley/Brodix aluminum heads were massaged by Valley Head Service, while the valvetrain included a Comp Cams bumpstick and Crane Cams roller rockers. Air flows through an Edelbrock/BBK throttle body and a ported upper plenum from Reggie Jackson's High Performance before mixing with the fuel supplied by a set of MSD Ignition Competition injectors. ARP fasteners hold everything together, while a Milodon oil pan sits between a set of Hooker long-tube headers that reach back to an exhaust-cleaning Random Technologies catalytic converter.
The entire package took about a year to complete. Everything was assembled in my garage, with the exception of the short-block. The new motor is smog-legal in Texas, and runs cleaner, with better gas mileage, than the original 350! I don't yet have enough miles on the new engine to let it loose on the track (a good choice of words, as it probably won't hook up, anyway), but in the unlikely case that it's still not fast enough, I have 150 horsepower on tap from an NOS nitrous system to keep me satisfied...I hope.