Every car nut thinks about what he or she would do with a milliondollars. From having the perfect garage to building the ultimate car,thoughts and dreams about what it would be like to have a near-unlimitedbudget dance in our heads like drug-induced sugar plum fairies. Whatfollows is the true story of one man who made his millions, thenembarked on building his dream Corvette.
Arka Chorbajian got his start in the scaffolding business. That mightnot sound especially glamorous or exciting, but in today's fast-pacedconstruction industry, scaffolding, like concrete and steel, is in highdemand. Arka built his business through the years, to the point that henow gets to fulfill his Vette dreams by building this nightmare-inducingblack wraith of a Corvette.
The car Arka started with was a '63 convertible. The first year for thenew C2 platform, '63 brought revised interior and exterior styling,along with a totally new chassis. Gone was the stiff, ill-handlingsolid-axle suspension of the C1 cars. The C2 featured fully independentrear underpinnings, providing a drastic improvement in handling anddrivability. Up front, GM's front independent suspension with long/shortA-arms helped steer the new Vette through the corners.
To get the customizing job done right, Arka contacted Rod Nielsen, ownerof Hot Rods & Restos, in Delta, British Columbia. Rod has a reputationfor building the highest-quality, highest-powered cars in the GreatWhite North. Even better, he doesn't do trailer queens or show cars. Infact, Rod's exact quote is "I don't build that [expletive deleted]!"(For more pictures of Rod's work, visit his shop's website at
Rod started by modifying the back-half of the car and fitting it with a'95 Viper differential with 3:08 gears. While underneath the rear, hewidened the wheelwells 5 1/2 inches to accommodate enough rubber tohandle all the horsepower the car's motor would deliver (more on thatlater). To help transmit that power to the pavement, Rod converted therear suspension to a coilover system. This necessitated the fabricationof a custom set of offset Corvette trailing arms.
Everything on the car shows evidence of customizing by Rod and his shop.Even though he used off-the-shelf parts, getting those parts to fitoften required modifications to the parts themselves or to theirmounting hardware. When building a car, Rod first selects the parts heknows will do the job right, then sets about modifying them to fit thecar he's working on. An example of this are the Wilwood brakes on Akra'scar. Even though the calipers and rotors are standard Wilwood pieces,they had to be modified to fit the '63 chassis. With as much power asthe car's engine puts out, Rod knew that plenty of stopping power wouldbe needed to keep the car safe and drivable.
Earning the car its none-too-subtle nickname of "Earthquake" is a 427small-block engine. Not just any stroked small-block would do for thiscar, so Rod contacted K&S Machine in Kelowna, BC to build a powerplantfor what was becoming a very serious Vette. K&S started the enginebuildup with a Donovan aluminum block. Donovan is well known in theracing world for its bulletproof engine blocks that can be punched outto unheard-of displacements and still stay together. Inside the block aLunati billet crank with Crower connecting rods and JE 10:1 pistons wasinstalled. Handling induction duties are a pair of Air Flow Research215cc raised-runner heads, an Edelbrock Victor manifold, and a Holley4150 1000-plus-cfm carb.
Igniting the resulting quantity of air and fuel are an MSD Digital6-Plus ignition, HVC coil, and billet slip-collar distributor. For someadded power, a Nitrous Oxide Systems Fogger setup was installed, alongwith twin Mallory 4140 fuel pumps to supply the required supplementalgas. The job of keeping this massive motor cool fell to a BeCoolaluminum radiator. How does it all work? When K&S dyno-tested the motorprior to installation, it generated over 700 hp--on 94-octane pump gas.
Transmitting that tire-shredding horsepower to the rear is a modifiedLong Shifter-shifted Richmond 6-speed tranny with a Lakewood bellhousingand a Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch.
According to Rod, the car is a handful. It will go where you want it to,but only if you know how to drive. The Vette will lay rubber in everygear, and was once thrown out of the local dragstrip for having too muchpower!
Even though the nitrous system is fully installed, no one has had theguts (or, perhaps more correctly, the bad sense) to throw the switchyet. Currently a 175-horse shot is primed, but even without the nitrousthe car is constantly on the edge of control. That's probably OK withAkra. After all, in the car nut's world, you can never have too muchhorsepower, too hot a girlfriend (or boyfriend), or too many extra pairsof clean underwear.
Inside the Earthquake
Think your Vette is customized? Arka Chorbajian's '63 sets a newstandard for the breed.
Rear bumpers removed
Custom roll pan and rear quarters
Custom front spoiler
Modified '67 427 Stinger hood (not installed for photo shoot)
Rear wheelwells widened 51/2 inches each side and painted body color
Reworked rear floor section
Notched rear deck for rollbar
Engine compartment cover panels (radiator-support panel, wiper motor,inside front fenders)
Fiberglass transmission-tunnel overlay, painted body color with flushedshifter trim
Sherwin-Williams Ultra 7000 U7 black base and Glamour clear, applied byCC Racing, Richmond, BC
Polished at Hot Rods & Restos, Delta, BC
CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION
OEM '63 frame with modified back-half, finished in Endura paint
All bolt-on components powdercoated by Hi-Pro Coatings, Langley, BC
Jim Meyer front control arms and coilover conversion
'95 Viper differential with 3.08 gears
Offset Corvette trailing arms
Comp Engineering antiroll bar
Strange Engineering rear coilover shocks
13-in cross-drilled, vented, and slotted Wilwood Brake rotors withaluminum hats
Tilton brake pedals and master cylinders
Addco front sway bar
Chrome-moly six-point rollbar with removable door bars
Flaming River stainless tilt steering column, billet wheel popper, andleather-wrapped "D" wheel
Rack-and-pinion conversion using high-ratio Flaming River rack andcomponents
Boyd Coddington Smoothie II wheels (widened at Greens Automotive,Richmond, BC), 18x91/2-in (front) and 18x131/2 (rear)
Michelin Pilot Sport 265/35-18 (front) and 335/30-18 (rear) tires
700-plus-horsepower 427ci small-block Chevy built by K&S Machine,Kelowna, BC
Modified Long shifter
Richmond six-speed transmission with Lakewood bellhousing
Centerforce dual-friction clutch
Donovan aluminum block
Airflow Research 215cc raised-runner CNC heads
T&D shaft-mount roller rocker assembly
Lunati billet crankshaft
Crower connecting rods
Comp Cams billet solid-roller camshaft with offset pin-oiler lifters andpushrods
Comp Cams belt drive
Milodon oil pan
JE 10:1 pistons
Holley 4150-series 1,000-plus-cfm carburetor
Edelbrock Victor intake manifold
Hooker headers and side pipes, equipped with custom Brullen Exhaustinserts
Moroso evac pump and catch can
Granatelli sheetmetal valve covers
MSD billet slip-collar distributor, Digital-6 Plus ignition, and HVCcoil
NOS Fogger nitrous system
Twin Mallory 4140 fuel pumps
Biondo line lock
Be Cool aluminum radiator and CSR overflow
Coolflex radiator hoses
Twin Optima batteries mounted under rear of car with billet mounts
Auto Meter Phantom gauges mounted in a custom dash
Jager Motorsports five-point cam-lock safety harnesses
Two 12-in Eclipse subwoofers mounted in a custom-painted fiberglassenclosure
Two MTX Audio amplifiers
Two sets of Diamond Audio 51/4-in separates mounted in kick pods
Clarion Pro Audio head unit
Vintage Air compact heater assembly
Painless Wiring 18-circuit harness
Twin polished NOS bottles mounted with a Comp Engineering bottle bracket