Custom Declaration: Full Custom '98 Corvette

Sixty-five thousand dollars worth of sponsored Corvette parts? Whybuddy, you better have a ...

Christopher R. Phillip May 1, 2007 0 Comment(s)

The Execution

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Much of the car was disassembled to facilitate the installation of theCorvettes West/C5 West body kit. Here, paint-and-body man Caesar Ruizchecks the alignment of one of the Vette's aftermarket front fenders.

His goal set, Chuck contacted Caesar Ruiz of Southeastern Customs, inValrico, Florida, and persuaded the auto-body painter to help himrealize his creative vision. Caesar got to work on the car's custom bodykit and hood, then installed vertical "Lambo" doors (more on those in amoment). Then the paint work began, detail by detail. Caesar laid down awhite basecoat, followed by the placement of sponsorship-decaltemplates, donated by Riz Graphics, in Oldsmar. Next, a neon greenbottom was sprayed, followed by a pearlescent white top. All paint camefrom House of Kolor.

Caesar continued by painting the inside of the stickers with HOK candypurple. He then removed the decals completely to reveal sponsorshiplogos rendered in 100 percent paint. "The process took a lot longer, butthe results were worth it," he says. Finally, Caesar wet-sanded andreassembled the Vette to create a mind-blowing showcase for hisconsiderable customizing talent.

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Rather than plastering the Vette with sponsor stickers, Ruiz used customtemplates (left) to permanently apply the suppliers' logos in House ofKolor candy purple paint...

Caesar explained to VETTE why he decided to participate in the creationof Chuck's custom Vette: "At first, I wanted exposure for my newcompany. But also, I love to do things that blow people's minds whenthey see them. In talking to Chuck about his dream car, he got meexcited [about the project]. I told him, 'We can do this, but theresults must be first-class and a show-stopper.' He agreed. With ahandshake and a couple of smiles, we started."

Next up, nationally recognized LS-performance expert RevXtreme in Tampaset to work on increasing the horsepower of the Vette's powerplant. Theengine assembly was fortified for forced-induction duty with Diamondforged pistons, Callies forged rods, and a Callies forged crankshaft. Apair of L92 aluminum heads were ported and polished to Stage 5specifications by CNC Cylinder Heads of Pinellas Park, Florida. Stock GMrocker arms work in conjunction with a custom forced-induction cam todeliver 224-/228-degrees duration, .582-/.588-inch lift, and a114-degree lobe-separation angle.

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...It's a subtle touch, but its execution wastime-consuming.

The intake and throttle body are stock, but the fuel injectors arehighly unusual--get ready for this--Ford Motorsports 42-lb/hr units.RevXtreme's Dino Clark says he went with the Blue Oval injectors because"they pump more on an LS1 system than quoted." In fact, the tuner usesthe Ford squirters exclusively in its LS1 build-ups. The stock ECUremains, but features custom programming by RevXtreme's in-house tuningguru.

To ensure his custom Vette could hold its own at the track as well as onthe show field, Chuck selected a ProCharger D-1SC intercooledsupercharger with a maximum boost of 10 psi. A Texas Nitrous Technology(TNT)-sponsored progressive wet kit is employed for quarter-mile use.

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Mid America Motorworks provided the car's ostrich-style seat covers,custom-dyed carpet, carbon-fiber dash trim, and various other dress-upbits. Too outre for you? No problem. The company offers all of thesepieces in a variety of colors, styles, and materials to suit virtuallyany taste.

The transmission is the original GM 4L60E, rebuilt to heavy-duty specsby Mad Dog Transmissions of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Additionaldrivetrain mods include a TCI torque converter with a 3500-rpm stallspeed and a hardened Unitrax output shaft for the 3.42-geared rearend.The vicious-sounding exhaust system comprises 17/8-inch Kooks long-tubeheaders, Random Tech high-flow cats, and Borla Stinger mufflers.

The C5's wheel/tire package consists of 18-inch HRE Performance rimswrapped in ultra-high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. The brakeand suspension components remain factory stock for now, but consideringChuck's ravenous appetite for customization, we wouldn't be surprised tosee that change in the near future.

Getting by with a Little Help...

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American Car Craft created an assortment of one-off, stainless steelembellishments to enliven the Vette's engine compartment. Under all thebling is a ProCharged LS1 making over 600 hp.

Creating a custom Corvette worth around $90,000 takes a lot of effort.Fortunately, Chuck had a lot of help. Mid America Motorworks providedthe Vette's radical, ostrich-style seat covers and door panels,carbon-fiber dash pieces, and full custom carpeting. Mid America's SteveWiedman tells us the company was genuinely pleased with its sponsorshiprole and the results Chuck achieved.

"We value these opportunities to expand the range and scope of theinteriors that we produce here in our Performance Choice manufacturingdivision," says Wiedman. "We are thus able to go far beyond thestock-replacement interiors commonly found on the market. Corvetteowners enjoy making their own individual automotive statements. Theseexercises allow us to explore new ideas, materials, colors, and styles.Many of these are then incorporated into the interiors that we market inour catalogs and on our Web site."

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Chuck gave us this picture of himself, taken during hiscompetitive-bodybuilding days. He said he wanted "to give equal time tothe VETTE ladies who want to see some beefcake in the magazine."

For an equally extreme exterior look, Corvettes West/C5 West provided aGC5 ground-effects kit, a C4R wing, and a C5-R race car hood. "Chuckcalled me on several occasions to keep us updated on the install of thekit," says Corvettes West/C5 West's Michelle Peterson. "He said it wasan easy install...and the body shop complimented us on the quality of thekit and the workmanship that went into it. The car looks fantastic andwill certainly be a head-turner."

Vertical Doors of Corona, California, kicked in a set of its highlyregarded scissor-style "Lambo" doors for Chuck's C5 custom. "[The car]wouldn't be as good without Vertical Doors' participation," Chuck tellsVETTE. "They really went out of their way to make my dream car cometrue."

American Car Craft of Spring Hill, Florida, created the Vette'sincredible stainless steel engine compartment, among other items. "Wedressed up the engine bay with a one-off, radical design concept," saysACC's Ricardo Rivera. "We rewired and reconstructed the engine bay;assembled the interiors; added custom, powder-coated diamond-plate floormats; and completed the front-end grille design with prototype conceptsbeing developed for market."

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