We Corvette lovers certainly are a loyal bunch. We stick with our favorite sports car through thick and thin, through good times and bad. We put up with not-so-good fuel economy, no back seats, the occasional stress crack, a drop of water here and there from the T-tops, a bit of extra heat under the hood in the summertime, and other relatively minor annoyances. And we do it because we simply love our Corvettes. But even among Corvette lovers there are different levels of devotion. Some would leave the car at home if it meant handing it over to a valet at the end destination, or if there was even the remotest chance of precipitation. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who would sacrifice their first-born or sell a kidney to keep their steed. After meeting Bob and Jenni Cavalluzzi, one can't help but get the feeling that they are a lot closer to the latter.
"For the past 32 years, for my entire adult life in fact, I have never been without a Corvette," explains Bob. "Big-blocks, small-blocks, coupes and convertibles, I've had them all!" But after owning so many different Corvettes for so many years, Bob may have actually started to get a little bit bored with the ordinary. Well, as you can see fromthe photos, the fiberglass wonder currently sleeping in the Cavaluzzi's garage is anything but ordinary-or boring!
It all began in August 1994, when Bob drove his '73 big-block convertible to the annual Corvette show at Carlisle. He was thinking about acquiring an out-of-the-ordinary Corvette, but didn't really have a well-defined vision of exactly what he wanted. Then he saw it, the car of his dreams. Well, sort of the car of his dreams. When Bob first laid eyes upon this '80 Vette, it was not exactly in the pristine condition it's currently in. The body was painted a radiant shade of light green, the stock bumpers and various panels were misaligned, the engine was not running up to snuff, and the overall package was in need of some rehabilitation. But Bob immediately recognized that beneath the mediocre exterior lurked a diamond waiting to be polished to all of its brilliant radiance. This car was not the product of some shade tree mechanic's mis-spent youth. Instead, it was a professionally crafted rocketship in need of cosmetics and mechanical freshening, and Bob knew that with some imagination, lots of hard work, and the invaluable help of his friends, the somewhat sad-looking bright green Pro Streeter could once again be a thing of incredible beauty.
Without hesitating for even a moment, he struck a deal with the car's owner that involved trading the '73 big-block he had driven to the show. He had gone to Carlisle looking for something different and he returned home with exactly that. Working with his friend Jerry Yorek, another long-time Corvette lover, Bob devised a unique, eye-catching paint scheme for his new acquisition. Of course, designing the paint scheme was the easy part. Preparing the body and actually executing the paintwork would prove to be quite a bit more difficult. As luck would have it, though, Bob's brother-in-law, Steve Wider, is a professional body and paint man with many years of experience working on Corvettes. After transporting the car to Steve's shop, Super Sport Auto Body in Amityville, New York, the crew went to work in earnest to transform the green monster into something really unique. With assistance from numerous friends, Bob invested a ton of time doing much of the tedious gruntwork. All of the old paint was stripped, stress cracks were repaired, and panels were realigned to make everything super straight. In addition, a VFN scoop was molded into the hood, a new front bumper was fitted, a new rear bumper with a custom access panel (to gain access to the fuel pumps, dual batteries, fuel cell, and other goodies located behind it) was installed, and the door locks were removed to provide a cleaner appearance.
After the body was massaged to perfection, Steve sprayed the multi-hued custom paint scheme using a base/clear urethane system. Steve's handiwork, with final touches provided by Gary The Local Brush of Merrick, New York, and Jack Colasanto of Panorama Signs in Copaigue, New York, incorporates pearlescent white, yellow, and purple, as well as sterling silver and quazar blue. Final touches to the body include the rear aluminum wing and massive rear wheeltubs, all custom manufactured by Ed Quay. The interior of the car is mostly stock and original, with the exception of certain functional alterations. Custom Summit seats keep both driver and passenger firmly in place, an important consideration given the car's impressive g-force generating potential. Strategically placed Auto Meter gauges help keep an eye on vital engine statistics.
Beneath the sparkling custom paint and bodywork lurks a chassis designed to get maximum power to the pavement. To fit the massive steamroller slicks out back, the rear of the chassis has been narrowed. Other areas of the frame were strengthened accordingly, and a full cage was installed to tie it all together and provide an extra margin of safety. Up front, a Wilwood rack-and-pinion steering system handles turning duties. The driveshaft spins 5.13:1 gears in the Ford 9-inch rearend. The rear, which includes a Strange spool and axles, is connected to the chassis via a Panhard bar/four-link suspension arrangement. Koni coilovers assist the hook-up, while a Competition Engineering wheelie bar system keeps the front end from getting too high. The whole deal rests on Monocoque wheels, 15x3.5-inch front and 15x15-inch rear, wearing Mickey Thompson tires sized at 26x7.5-15 and 33x21.5-15, respectively.
All of the fancy chassis modifications and additions would be unnecessary, however, absent some real muscle under the hood. Motive force comes from a moderately modified 427ci big-block. With forged internals, a roller valvetrain, ported and polished aluminum heads, and lots of other goodies, the long-block assembly is built to go. Ignition is via a complete MSD setup, fuel is fed by a Holley 930 cfm double-pumper atop a Holley Strip Dominator intake manifold, and spent gases exit through Hooker headers and a Flowmaster exhaust system. The engine is bolted up to a heavily modified two-speed Powerglide transmission manipulated via a Hurst quarter stick. A TCI 4,500 rpm stall speed converter, transbrake, and several other heavy-duty components and transmission tweaks add up to a bulletproof system that delivers every drop of the engine's power without complaining. So what does it all add up to? The car turned the quarter-mile in the mid nine second range before Bob rebuilt and further tweaked the engine. He hasn't had the opportunity to track test it since the rebuild, but expects it will dip down into the low nines if driven aggressively. He is not sure if he'll have the chance to race the car this year, but will certainly continue to drive it to local shows and cruise-ins, just as he has done with every Corvette he has ever owned. "I am proud of the car," explains Bob, "and my wife and I really enjoy owning and driving it." Well, of course they do. As its license plate proclaims, this car is "For Fun"!