IT all started in 2002, at a Corvette show in Orlando, when I stumbled upon modern frames for midyear Vettes. I spotted one really nice frame with a C4 suspension, big brakes, coilovers, and a modern powersteering rack. I dreamed about strapping a new LS6 and five-speed into it, then dropping a midyear body right down on top.
Having just completed a long '66 roadster project, I took the plunge and ordered the frame, then began surfing the Net for parts. Things moved fast at first, and the big pieces of the puzzle came together almost too easily. A pull-out LS6 was acquired, and a Tremec TKO conversion kit was ordered. Now the search was on for a body. This part of the process was a bit more tricky.
The goal was to find a body that I wouldn't have to paint. The first candidate was a Hugger Orange '65 coupe that looked very good initially. Upon closer inspection, however, it became clear that the car had been back-halved, and the quality of the work was not up to my standards.
Time went by, and I started to get a little frustrated. Looking at low-dollar midyear Corvettes is not a lot of fun, since cracks and bad paint are the rule. Then I saw this radical, gasser-style, purple '66 with killer paint, big flares, and a tilt nose. If I could get that nose down on the front tires, I thought, the result could be really slick. I decided to go for it.
After two summers of weekend wrenching in my buddy Mike Huber's garage, the body was on the frame, and the drivetrain was installed. We did everything ourselves, with no hired professionals, and now we had a running, driving car. I submitted some pics to Scott at www.lateral-g.net, and he was gracious enough to post them. I didn't know much about Pro Touring, but I lurked around the site and found that I really enjoyed reading the forums.
Around the same time, my interest in supercharged LS engines was sparked. I spoke with Frank Serafine from Prodigy Customs, who referred me to LS guru Mike Norris at Next Level Performance. I made the call, and Mike was kind enough to take a small road trip to check out my car. He grinned when he saw the LS6.
The next phase of the car's evolution began with a discussion Frank, Mike, and I had over beer and burritos on a late December afternoon in 2006. With access to Mike's LS expertise and Frank's customization talents, a more sophisticated, higher-end vision emerged.
The decision to redo the body came after numerous attempts to lower the car's front end for just the right look. Frank adjusted and readjusted the suspension, trying to drop the stance while maintaining the car's ride and handling. But by lowering the ride height, we were severely binding up the suspension. That, coupled with the 555 rear-wheel horsepower the car was making with the new ProCharger setup Mike had installed, seemed like a recipe for disaster. The '70s flared look was going to have to go.
Frank and Team Prodigy took on the build, with May's YearOne Experience-then just five months away-as a deadline. The entire front clip was replaced with a stock reproduction nose. All the original lights and housings were installed, along with new custom rear quarters that were roughly one inch wider than the factory pieces. The rest of the car was stripped and reblocked, and all the lines were resculpted.
In April, I took a road trip to Prodigy to see the Vette and make a final color decision. In the end, we settled on a steel-like silver, with gunmetal gray for the stripe. The gunmetal was intentionally chosen to match the centers of the Forgeline SP3P wheels Frank had installed. I was amazed at the results. By this time, YearOne was only a week away, and there was still plenty of work left to do.