Grand Sport. Nothing else needs to be said among anyone familiar with the Corvette hobby in order to conjure up images of legendary brute power and performance. When Chevrolet paid tribute to the original mid-year race cars with 1,000 Admiral Blue coupes and convertibles in 1996, they stirred up lots of sentiment and excitement. While the '96 Grand Sport was mostly a cosmetic package, the name and the concept inspired quite a passion with enthusiasts of all generations.
Denver's Dave Bell was one such person moved by the C4 Grand Sport. A fanatic for performance cars in general, and Corvettes in particular, Dave built his first car when he was only 14 years old. In June 1996, Dave decided that he needed a Grand Sport, but the pickings were slim by then. None of the remaining Grand Sports he looked at had satisfactory quality paint for his tastes. While Dave was checking out two G/S's at a local dealership-one a coupe and the other a roadster-he spotted a black '96 coupe with nearly flawless paint. After learning that it was equipped with the same ZF six-speed gearbox and 330hp LT4 powerplant as the Grand Sport, Dave began imagining the black coupe in G/S-style trim. "I decided right then to build my own Grand Sport!" says Dave, and the black coupe was instantly sold.
In the spring of 1997, the coupe went into the body shop at Purifoy Chevrolet in Fort Lupton, Colorado, where Matt Winholz added a Torch Red G/S center stripe and left-fender hash marks to complement the Torch Red and black interior. G/S rear fender flares, blacked-out 17 x 9.5 and 17 x 11-inch five-spoke wheels, and all the appropriate badges rounded out the Grand Sport cosmetics, but Dave didn't stop there. He added a Greenwood rear wing and hood louvers, as well as Phantom taillight louvers to accentuate the Vette's aggressive looks. He succeeded grandly. A week after leaving the shop, Dave and his brother Doug caravanned with fellow Looking Glass Corvette Association members to Billings, Montana, for the "Big Sky" meet. "Somewhere in Wyoming, the leader of our caravan came over the CB and said, 'Dave, that car looks like a huge black widow spider coming down the road.' The name stuck."
As soon as they returned from Montana, Dave and Doug began painting a giant spider on the underside of the hood. In addition to countless hours of work on designs and cutting out patterns, the black widow artwork took five coats of Cadillac Pearl Black and some Torch Red for the hourglass, Sebring Silver for the web, and five coats of high-temp clear. But, thanks to Doug's "airbrush artistry," the black widow was becoming a reality. Dave also had "Black Widow" hand-lettered on the roof pillars.