1996 Chevrolet Corvette - The Black Widow

This '96 Grand Sport Clone Packs A Lethal Bite!

Rob Wallace III Mar 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
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Beneath the large spider on the hood lays some equally impressive mechanical artwork. John Lingenfelter and L.P.E. worked over the LT4 with ported and polished LT4 intake and aluminum heads, which received 2.02/1.60 sodium-filled hollow stem valves, then port-matched the heads and manifold. The factory valve covers have chrome studs, and Dave hand-polished every aluminum line. A Granatelli MAF sensor plus an open lid, Smooth Air Induction by Racer's Edge with a K&N filter allows the motor to gulp more air, and Arizona Speed & Marine 60 lb/hr injectors pump in extra fuel. Spent gasses are expelled through a 3-inch stainless steel X-pipe and twin-tip straight pipes. A Hypertech Power Programmer Plus helps to manage engine performance. Dave has fortified the six-speed trans with a Centerforce Dual Friction clutch and a B&M Ripper shifter. The engine now makes 420 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque. With a 3.45:1 ring-and-pinion, the Black Widow runs the quarter in 13.31 seconds at 106.72 mph...at one-mile elevation! That would approximate high 11's at around 115 mph at sea level.

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The Z51 Performance Suspension gets tested frequently in autocross and open track racing. The C4 looks and handles potently thanks to an upgrade to G/S-spec P285 and P315/40ZR17 tires. Although the Widow sees a lot of track time, its underside is highly detailed, including polished upper and lower wishbones and polished brake lines. In the cockpit, it is obvious that Dave holds true to the Grand Sport's competition heritage. Bell's G/S clone is fitted with a chrome-plated Arizona Speed & Marine rollbar, with a camcorder mount and two Halon fire extinguishers. RCI five-point harnesses keep the driver and passenger secured in their red leather seats. The dash includes a carbon fiber insert, and Dave has appropriately dressed the interior in G/S trim with black Grand Sport carpet mats and chromed G/S door sills.

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This Corvette is not just some wanna-be Grand Sport. The Black Widow has received high accolades from enthusiasts and GM execs alike. It is the only non-G/S serial-numbered C4 to be accepted in the 1996 Grand Sport Registry, and Dave has taken home more than 30 show trophies-two thirds of which are Firsts. The Vette has been praised by such GM notables as David North (a retired chief designer), John Cafaro, Dave Hill, and Dr. Fred Gallasch (a former Corvette assistant brand manager). Each of them has signed Dave's Owner's Manual with their compliments.

Dr. Gallasch has even gone so far as to say that Dave's homebuilt '96 G/S may be more historically correct than the factory ones. All five of the original Grand Sport racers were built by Skunkwerkes, not Chevrolet, since Zora couldn't get support for a factory racing program. So suffice to say the Black Widow is a fraternal twin to the '96 Grand Sport. They're not identical twins-this one is definitely bad!


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