The saying goes that as long as there have been cars, there have been people trying to make them faster. And as long as enhanced performance has been the auto enthusiast's most earnest ambition, there have been a deceitful few members of this sub-culture with a predilection for exaggerating their vehicles' abilities.
Vincent Moore, of Tampa, Florida, stands in direct contrast to these performance prevaricators. His '99 Corvette fixed-roof coupe is an exemplar of honest, tire-shredding power. This candor is even expressed on his license plate, which reads "Da Truth."
As with many great things in life, the '99 FRC came into Moore's life seemingly by providence. When a friend purchased the car at an auction in 2004, it showed only 54,000 miles on the odometer and was untouched, aside from having been lowered. The new owner kept the car for a year before deciding to upgrade to a Z06. Being a good buddy, Moore offered to take the bone-stock, low-mileage C5 off his hands.
In the years since he acquired it, Moore's Corvette has served as concrete proof of the theory of evolution. The transformation began with a naturally aspirated 408. Built by Futral Motorsports, this engine was good for 555 horsepower and 520 lb-ft torque. "I had the highest-dynoing hydraulic-cam LS car in the country for one-and-a-half years," Moore says. For many, this would be the end of the line, but for him, it was only an auspicious start.
The Darwinian process continued with the installation of a nitrous system from Tampa's Coastal Chassis Dyno. This juiced setup produced a titanic 840 hp and 950 lb-ft torque-deeply impressive numbers by just about anyone's standards. But as any performance enthusiast can tell you, once you start modifying, your car is never finished.
To satiate his lust for power and surpass his nitrous-injected thrills, Moore ultimately turned to forced induction. He commissioned Phil Hoefler at Skunk-Werkz to install a Turbo Technology Stage X twin-turbo kit on the Vette's 408-cube stroker.
The engine's foundation is an LQ4 block built by Best Machine Racing Engines, in Warren, Michigan. Abandoning the aluminum LS1 block for a bulky cast-iron piece might seem counter-intuitive in a svelte sports car like the C5; however, the strength of this stout unit more than makes up for putting on a few pounds under the hood. The rotating assembly comprises a forged crankshaft, pistons from Callies, and Compstar rods.
The heads are AFR Mongoose 225s with 72cc combustion chambers. The 408 has also benefited from the addition of Comp Cams 921 valvesprings, chrome-moly 7.35 pushrods, and a custom-ground camshaft from Cam Motion. Crowning the motor is an LS2 intake manifold.
The stars of the show are a pair of custom T3/T4 ball-bearing turbochargers. The turbos mount neatly below the cast exhaust manifolds included in the kit, instead of in front of the motor. After leaving the snails, the hot intake charge passes through a 3-core, front-mount intercooler. An ECS methanol-injection system also aids in keeping things cool. The crescendo of each upshift is celebrated with the release of two upgraded blow-off valves.
Because the turbo kit vastly increased the engine's fueling needs, an LS2 return-style fuel setup was added. The oiling system was alsofortified with a ported Melling oil pump.
After being put to work in the turbines, exhaust gases are routed through the factory plumbing and finally evacuated through a Borla after-cat exhaust system. The end result is a claimed 1,000 hp and 1,000 lb-ft torque at the flywheel-numbers that will make just about any exotic-car owner blanch.
It is a testament to the might of the T56 transmission that Moore has left his factory-issue six-speed unchanged. Even at these power levels, the only drivetrain upgrades include a heavy-duty clutch from Textralia and hardened output shafts for the car's 3.42 rearend.
The clean lines of the Vette's Torch Red exterior have been left unadultered-you won't find any ostentatious body kits or airbrushed flaming skulls here. In fact, the only hint at the increased performance is a set of chrome reproduction Z06 wheels, sized 17x9.5 inches in the front and 18x11 inches in the rear. These are wrapped in a set of Nitto 555R Extreme Drag tires that do their best to put the colossal surge of torque to the ground.
The interior is much the same as when it left the assembly line. Innovate Motorsports fuel-pressure and wideband air/fuel gauges are housed in a simple A-pillar pod, and a Blitz Boost controller helps keep things in check. In the unlikely event that the aural satisfaction of the twin-turbo 408 is not enough, Moore has installed a Pioneer audio system as well.
Fixed-roof C5s have increased chassis rigidity over their hatchback siblings. That chassis advantage, and the nimble factory Z51 suspension package, left little need for improvement in the handling department. The only upgrades are front and rear sway bars from BMR.
According to Moore, this car was built solely to go fast. "I wanted crazy power and freedom from worrying about an exotic car being faster. I also wanted to keep my A/C," he says.
While the Vette serves primarily as a Sunday cruiser and an instrument for terrorizing the Tampa streets, it also sees time at the track. "Every now and then I take her above 180 [mph] racing motorcycles at private tracks. The bike owners always know my license plate."
When it comes to the inevitable question of build cost, Moore remains blissfully-even determinedly-ignorant. "My car went through many transformations. I don't want to think about how much money I have spent." The expense and effort seem worth it, however, as Moore claims his Vette is among the five fastest air-conditioned cars in Tampa. Given his penchant for honesty, we are inclined to believe him.
Although a bright-red Corvette doesn't exactly embody the image of a sleeper, it's safe to assume that few onlookers ever fathom the awesome power of this particular C5. Should any unsuspecting exotic owners tempt fate and challenge Vincent Moore, they are in for quite a surprise. While many cars may not live up to their claimed performance, this Vette is always willing to show "da truth" of its capabilities.