We all remember the pleasures and pains of our first car. It's one of those rare and beautiful moments in every teen's life, filed for all posterity in our hearts right next to your first kiss. For some, it was the horror of not having one in high school and depending on friends-or worse, parents-for rides. Many who did have cars during high school had to get a job flipping burgers after school just to pay for gas and insurance. But it's a car! Every teenager lucky enough to buy or be given a car knows just how priceless that degree of freedom is.
Fourteen-year-old Jamie Davis of Peoria, Arizona, will not be one of those poor souls doomed to depend on mommy and daddy to chauffeur her everywhere. Not only will she get to drive her own car when she hits the big 1-6, she should also be the envy of all her friends. As long as she keeps up her stellar grades in school, she'll inherit the family's hot-rodded '90 Corvette convertible!
Jamie's parents, Jim and Karen, are avid car people and big-time fans of Vettes, having gone through at least a dozen 'glass cars over the years. They bought and modified the open-cockpit C4 in 1996, inspired by the impressive '96 Grand Sports. The '90 received all the G/S cosmetic treatment, including '96 front and rear bumper covers, taillights, and side moldings. Jim painted the convertible Admiral Blue with the appropriate Grand Sport striping, and upgraded the entire interior to '96, including the dash and black leather seats. "My dad did all of the work at home in our garage!" Jamie boasts.
The heart of this ragtop is still the original L98 and ZF six-speed, but the motor has been significantly worked over to perform like a Grand Sport's 330hp LT4. Its heads have been fortified with parts from Crane, while the stock intake manifold has been ported and polished. A custom camshaft helps to fatten up the power band in addition to Jim's homemade forced cold air induction and his handcrafted three-inch aluminum crossover pipes that carry exhaust from ported L98 manifolds to DynoMax LT4 tips. Jim likewise beefed up the transmission pieces with a ZR-1 clutch disc and pressure plate.
The convertible is a practical and reliable street car first and foremost, but it also enjoys more than its fair share of abuse on the track. It gets autocrossed on a regular basis, and frequently wins thanks in large part to a very effective suspension. The FX3 Select Ride front suspension is lowered 1 inch and is fully bushed with urethane pieces. Bilstein shocks and high-performance brake pads adorn all four corners while Z51 rear anti-sway bar and springs work to keep the 3.33:1-geared rearend planted through tight corners. The '90 is plenty of fun in a straight line as well, having run the quarter in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph, and Jim has run the Vette's speedo up as far as 163mph!
Jamie is going to have one incredible first car-a Corvette convertible that performs equal to-or better than-Chevy's '96 Grand Sports and has all the sharp styling of the G/S. Because the DMV is making things increasing difficult for young drivers to earn their licenses, she will probably be 18 before she will be unconditionally allowed to drive. Thus, Jamie will have to "suffer" by beginning her driving career racing on autocross courses before commuting on public roads. For now, Jim and Karen are more than happy to keep the C4 warm and ready for Jamie's debut!