2004 Chevrolet Corvette - SE7EN

Deadly Sins Be Damned, This Car Was Built To Be Driven Hard

Chris Endres Mar 1, 2008 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0803_01_z 2004_chevrolet_corvette Driver_side_view 1/13

Corvette owners often get a bum rap from the rest of the motorhead community. Owners of lesser cars love to paint Vette guys as snobs and poseurs when, more often than not, they should be pointing the dirty end of the stick at themselves. Be that as it may, it's true that there's a certain segment of our fraternity that is more concerned with tire dressing and waxing protocol than timing advance and tire smoke. But there's also a group of hardcore addicts who have sold their souls for performance. Curt Babler belongs to the latter category.

Babler has always been a fan of GM's premier two-seater, even if it did take a little longer than expected to get one of his own. "Growing up with Corvettes, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had one. When the time came, the car had to be yellow." And man, is it ever yellow. More on that in a minute.

Vemp_0803_04_z 2004_chevrolet_corvette Navigation_unit 2/13

The Pioneer navigation/head unit looks as though it could have been factory installed. The rest of the system is nicely hidden from view.

Another knock against the Corvette crowd is a perceived snobbery towards other cars and their owners. Don't let the vanity plate fool you. Curt Babler is not one of those stereotypically vain Vette guys. Far from it, actually. "I built the car in a way that I felt would make it unique, and made the theme of the car 'Envy'," he says. What about that vanity plate? "It means I built the car the way I wanted. It means that no one should envy me or my car, but should build their own, to their personal taste." That bit of murky philosophy aside, there is no denying that he has assembled a stunner.

Though the car is perfectly detailed, Babler's exterior embellishments are rather reserved. The casual observer may even mistake this clean C5 for a stocker. ACI turn-signal splitters, LED taillights, some Z06-style mesh screens, and a killer set of shoes are the most noticeable departures from stock. The ever-popular CCW 505a wheels are plus-sized to 18 (front) and 19 (rear) inches and dressed in Pirelli P-Zero hides. Peeking from behind the polished aluminum hoops are a set of red Z06 calipers to apply the clampdown on Baer Eradispeed+ rotors by way of Hawk pads.

Vemp_0803_03_z 2004_chevrolet_corvette LS1_engine 3/13

Tucked discreetly beneath the fire, brimstone, carbon fiber, and chrome is the original LS1. It has been fortified with a pair of AFR 205 heads, a complete valvetrain from Comp, and a Boos-spec XE-R bumpstick. On the dyno, the combination is good for more than 400 rwhp.

A glance through any window reveals an eye-popping Mod Yellow interior that any Corvette owner would lust after. "The late Ken King of Vette Essentials produced the truly astounding leather work," says Babler. "I was able to recover the seats using his skins in less time than it took me to install the chrome hood hinges." The yellow theme is carried on throughout, including a two-tone shifter knob and boot, parking-brake handle and boot, console cover, door pulls, and armrests.

Among the more subtle interior enhancements is the upgraded sound system. The factory stereo head unit has been scrapped, and in its stead resides a Pioneer navigational unit complete with monitor for the back-up camera. The factory speakers have been replaced by CDT components, which are powered by a pair of JL Audio amplifiers. A Sub "thump box" is loaded with a pair of Infinity 10-inch woofers. Another understated touch is the replacement of all interior lighting with blue LEDs, giving a far-out custom look after dark.

Babler displays the car often and reports that it's always a favorite at the local shows and cruise nights. "It's always the first one the kids point out. My most coveted trophy is from being selected to the Corvette Corral by Corvette Race Program Director Doug Fehan at the American LeMans Series race at Road America."

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