Membership fees into America's best sports car club can be an expensive proposition, especially when looking for a nice vintage Vette. But if you're Jim Sharp, the buy-in might be a little easier to manage than in some cases. Jim has always loved Corvettes, but was unable to locate the right one. This first-time buyer and longtime admirer eventually found his go-fast goodie on eBay, where a credit union was trying to offload a recent repossession. After calling the bank, Jim made an offer, which was quickly accepted. Jim, a Paducah, Kentucky, resident, remembers, "Before I knew it, I was flying to Marietta, Georgia, to pick up my new Vette." What was this sample of automotive perfection? A bone-stock, black-on-red '01 Z06 with 8,000 miles on the clock. With the deal sealed and Jim on the road back home, the new owner had nearly 400 miles to decide what he was going to do with all the money he saved.
Back home, Jim got the itch to personalize his Corvette. But it wasn't until a phone call to Lou Gigliotti at L.G. Motorsports that things got out of control. With an interest in L.G.'s race-proven philosophy, which involves Lou testing his products on his own ride, Jim formulated a game plan and drove his '01 to South Wylie, Texas, for Lou to work on.
Currently, the '01 houses a 346-cube LS6 block. A cross-section of the engine would reveal a forged stock crank, Diamond forged pistons and rods, AFR Mongoose heads, L.G.'s G5X4 cam, a F.A.S.T LSX 90mm manifold, a Nick Williams 90mm throttle body, and a Hurricane intake system by West Coast Corvettes. L.G. long-tube headers complete the package by routing exhaust through 3-inch tubes and stock mufflers. You might think you'd need a transmission worthy of a tank for such a potent package, but Jim gets by on a stock six-speed tranny and a B&M short-throw shifter to help grind the gears. With an L.G. carbon-fiber driveshaft mated to a DTE Stage 2 differential housing 3.90 gears, Jim has power when and where he needs it most-at the rear wheels.
The photos speak for themselves; massive horsepower is just a gearshift away, as evidenced by the amount of smoke rolling off the Michelin Pilot Sports. For those interested in a future tire purchase, Jim easily fit 275/35-18s in the front and 295/30-19s in the back. In the center of each, you'll find Fikse Profil 10 series wheels-18x9s not far from his feet, and the rear held up by 19x10.5s. And in case of an emergency, Jim's stopping ability remains undeterred, thanks to Baer EradiSpeed two-piece rotors.
With power aplenty, it came time to set the C5's body apart from the rest. To do so, Jim ordered a Tiger Shark fascia and spoiler, which were installed on the Corvette along with a weight-saving Motor City Mold carbon-fiber hood. With the 'glasswork completed by Jeff's Autobody Shop, Glover's Custom Paint airbrushed some "true" flames so the owner had a look that matched the performance potential of his Corvette.
Because Jim spends more time inside his Corvette than outside, Vette Essentials provided nearly all the parts in its catalog, while Auto Meter sent fuel-pressure and airflow/fuel-ratio gauges. Having tackled the interior solo, Jim installed the entertainment center next. Inside is an Alpine D-900 DVD head unit with an XM radio, and a TV displays the goings-on behind the car through a rear camera mounted inside the third brake light. When it comes time for tunes, sound thumps through C.D.T speakers mounted in the doors and rear hatch, aided by an Image Dynamics subwoofer and a Rockford Fosgate 800-watt amp.
Team VETTE caught up with Jim at the Mid America Motorworks 2005 Funfest for a quick photo shoot and "road test." When asked why he went the route he did, Jim replied simply, "At first I wanted a little edge at the track. And over a short period of time, before I knew it I had a full-blown head-and-cam car with all the bells and whistles!" Jim had a similar experience with the engine detailing, with the car seeming to put itself together.
So just how much power is Jim pulling at the crank? The simple answer is, we don't yet know. With more mods recently completed, Jim hasn't had the chance to get his Vette back down to Lou for a final tuning and dyno run. But based on the parts Jim's running, 600 hp sounds about right. With some springtime trips planned for Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and a future project involving nitrous, Jim hopes to reach his goal of 10s in the quarter-mile. Until then, he can rest assured knowing he's got one sharp ride.