By: Christopher R. Phillip
Photography: Patrick Hill
Model: Christy Colley
Stylist: Shelley Giard-Talbott
In the days preceding the '07 Performance Racing Industry (PRI, www.performanceracing.com) show in Orlando, the unmistakable sound of twin turbos could be heard announcingthe arrival of a special guest at VETTE HQ in nearby Tampa. Collectivelyleaving our desks to determine the source of the forced-inductionfusillade, we discovered a C6 convertible adorned in LeMans Blue,clothed in sponsorship decals, and proudly declaring the name "Fidanza"(www.fidanza.com) across its front windshield.
Out from the road rocket stepped Bob Scheid, the performance-partsmanufacturer's VP. He had traveled from Fidanza's corporate office inPerry, Ohio, to give us a personal tour of his company's extrovertedtest-cum-show car. "This is my daily driver," Scheid said, pointing tothe Lambo-doored '05, "and it makes 975 hp at the rear wheels."
While Editor Heath and his office manservant familiarized themselveswith the car's formidable dynamic capabilities, your author sat downwith Scheid to learn how he and the folks at Fidanza brought a run-of-the-mill C6 up to the millenniummark in flywheel horsepower.
"Our roots trace back to Jaguar E-Type racing and the SCCA NationalClass C championship in 1980," he said. "Street and track performance ismore than our business--it's our passion and legacy. Our Corvette C6 isevidence of just that, and it's not just a show car. We use it to testour new Corvette products."
Let's face it. Most companies won't build a 975rwhp Corvette just tocollect data on the reliability and durability of the products theyoffer. But according to Scheid, this was the most obvious way forFidanza to show that its Corvette clutches, flywheels, and shifters areamong the best in the business.
"Our customers see the benefit in knowing that the same parts we sell tothem, we also use on our own cars. And we're picky. We practice what wepreach," he said. "When a customer has a question about the driveablityor performance of our Corvette parts, we can speak with firsthandknowledge.
"Most of our employees, including me, are Corvette nuts. They havecertain expectations when they spend their hard-earned money on a performance part, and we try to exceed those with our products."
Scheid is no stranger to Corvettes. He owned Millennium Yellow '01 andMagnetic Red '02 convertibles before he fell in love with the C6. It washis decision, as the Number Two man at Fidanza, to purchase a new Vettefor the company's project car and turn it into a celebrity. "A projectcar is a creative way to brand your company," he said. "We want the nameFidanza to be synonymous with performance. Associating our name with ahigh-performance Corvette is another way to communicate that message."
To accomplish the goal of the ultimate high-profile, high-performanceVette, Scheid enlisted the sponsorships of 28 aftermarket companies, allof whom were delighted to furnish their latest products in exchange forthe exposure the C6 would receive.
"Our Corvette generated over two million consumer impressions forFidanza, and for its other sponsors," Scheid explained. "If we gain evenone new customer as a direct result of them seeing or reading about ourproduct, the sponsorship was a success. Project cars, as rollingbillboards, are among the most cost-effective methods of advertisingavailable to aftermarket manufacturers."
The Fidanza Corvette's blueprint for success began with a call to theprofessionals at Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center (SDPC). SDPC provided acryo-treated aluminum LS2 block sourced from GM Performance Parts.According to Tim Cook, an SDPC representative, the block was loaded witha Callies Dragon Slayer forged-steel crank, Crower 4340 forged-steelrods, and Mahle forged-aluminum pistons.
Bolted to the bulletproof block are a set of AFR 225cc LS heads thatfeature 72cc combustion chambers, 2.080-inch intake valves, and AFR'sown hydraulic-roller spring upgrade. To better suit this particularengine's intended use and stratospheric output, the heads were alsofitted with the company's 1.6-inch "super alloy" exhaust valves.
"These valves are made of a specific grade of stainless steel that willput up with the additional heat from the combustion process with a lotmore safety margin than a conventional high-quality exhaust valve," saysTony Mamo, AFR's head of R&D. "The 225s have worked extremely well inmany of the larger-displacement Gen III and IV stroker combinations, butthey have been especially effective in blower applications, due to theirextremely efficient and high-flowing exhaust port. They almost surpass astock LS6 head's peak exhaust flow as early as 0.300-inch lift, and by0.600-inch lift, they have a 60-cfm advantage."
A Comp custom-grind cam directs the valve action with 236/242-degreesduration, 0.601/0.610-inch lift, and a 114-degree lobe-separation angle.Fuel is picked up from a factory 255-lph pump, amplified during periodsof boost with an MSD voltage booster, run to an Aeromotive regulator andpressure gauge, and then routed to a Professional Products rails housingMotron 70-lb/hr injectors.
Spark, meanwhile, flows from an MSD Multispark Blaster Coil Set through8.5mm Super Conductors to AC Delco plugs. Air enters through customtubes mounted behind the taillights, is routed through the turbo system,and enters the engine through a Professional Products 90mm throttle bodyand polished Typhoon intake. Spent gases are evacuated through StainlessWorks headers with 1
"Our twin-disc clutch kit gives the car performance with properetiquette. Driving it to the track is enjoyable, because engagementfeels the same as most 'Stage 3' single clutches. The aluminum flywheelenhances acceleration for even more fun."
Following the powertrain design rearward, the Fidanza Vette features astock T56 six-speed and driveshaft mated to a 3.42-geared rear with aDTE differential strut. According to Scheid, Fidanza was pleased enoughwith the factory Z51 suspension setup that only minimal upgrades wererequired. These include KW Variant III coilovers at all four corners,SSBC Tri-Power calipers, and DPE GT7 wheels (18x8-inch front and19x10-inch rear) shod in factory Goodyear F1 245/40ZR18 and 285/35ZR19rubber.
Going fast is one thing, but to make a lasting impression in anysituation, the Fidanza Corvette needed to look incredibly fast juststanding still. To accomplish that task, Scheid turned to the experts atFull Throttle Kustomz of Garrettsville, Ohio, who had already provedtheir worth by handling most of the assembly work on the car. Theyapplied custom graphics and sponsorship decals to the exterior of thecar, outfitted the body with a vertical-door kit sourced from LSD, andcustomized the interior with leather seat covers manufactured byRoadwire, of Commerce, California. To boost the convenience quotientwithin the cockpit, Full Throttle also installed a Fidanza short-throwshifter, Auto Meter Nexus gauges, and a PAC iPod interface.
For all its beauty and power, perhaps the most striking aspect of theFidanza Corvette is its dual personality. "This car is just fun todrive," Scheid said. "With the boost turned down, we still make wellover 650 horses. This is how I drive the car under normal conditions. Atthat level, the car is very fast while being very friendly. With thesimple push of a button, we can add up to 18 pounds of boost, turningthis docile grocery-getter into a car that is more fun than shouldlegally be allowed."
If you're wondering about our model, we discovered Christy Colley working as a spokesmodel at the Motor Trend Orlando Auto Show. To see more about Christy and possibly hiring her as a model, visit www.christycolley.com
Styling for our shoot was handled by Shelley Giard Talbott. See more of her work at www.shelleygiard.com
Thanks to Chet Pelletier and the folks at Got-Rack (www.got-rack.com) for the use of their warehouse to shoot the Fidanza C6.
Car: '05 Z51 convertible
Owner: Bob Scheid
Block: Cryo-treated LS2
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Heads: AFR 225cc with spring upgrade
Valves: 2.08/1.60 stainless steel
Camshaft: Comp Solid Roller; 236/242-deg duration, 0.601/0.610-in lift, 115-deg LSA
Rocker Arms: Comp shaft-mounted roller
Pistons: Mahle forged aluminum
Crankshaft: Callies Dragon Slayer forged steel
Rods: Crower 4340 forged steel
Intake Manifold: Professional Products 90mm Typhoon
Throttle Body: Professional Products 90mm
Fuel Injectors: Motron 70-lb/hr
Fuel Pump: Stock 255-lph with MSD Fuel Pump Voltage Booster
Ignition: MSD Multi Spark Blaster Coil Set
Engine Management: HP Tuners programming
Power Adder: STS remote-mount twin-turbo system
Maximum Boost: 18 psi
Intercooler: STS front-mounted, air-to-air type
Exhaust System: Stainless Works 1