It was a cool January night when John Svoboda swerved to miss a deer and landed his '98 coupe ("Tales of 'Super 98'," May '06) on a neighbor's front lawn, taking out a few trees in the process. Fortunately for Svoboda, the car was the only casualty.
After a few days of feeling sorry for himself, Svoboda decided to rebuild his dream Vette in a better, more powerful package. He started out by buying back his wrecked '98 from the insurance company and stripping off all the high-performance parts that were still usable. He then sold the rest of the car on the Internet. Next, he searched the country for a stock '98 or '99 automatic coupe, eventually finding one in Florida.
After many calls to the owner, Svoboda flew down, made a deal, and drove the car back to his home in North Carolina. He now owned a rather plain-looking Torch Red '99 coupe with no mods and 75,000 miles on it. Over the next 60 days, with the help of his good friend, Jeremiah Johnson, he stripped everything out of the car and completely rebuilt or replaced all the driveline, interior, and engine parts.
Along the way, Svoboda found that many of the '98 components weren't interchangeable with their '99 counterparts. For one thing, the ABS unit was now in the front of the car, instead of on the back cradle. This made the blower install much more difficult, requiring a lot of fabrication to make everything fit.
One of the items Svoboda definitely wanted to keep was the older car's dual-line fuel system. (The '99 came with a single fuel line that didn't flow enough fuel for the blower he had planned.) As he had so many times in the past, he enlisted the help of local performance guru Rodney Cook. "Rodney's my 'go-to' man," he says. "There's nothing he can't fix, so when I have issues, he comes over and makes them go away."
With the fuel-line problem licked, in went a 402ci, Scoggin Dickey-built LS2 stroker. This engine was built for forced induction to take advantage of a new D-1SC ProCharger pumping out 13 psi of boost. (Svoboda's old setup was a stock, P-1SC-blown LS1 making just 10 psi.) Once all the engine and driveline parts were installed, Jeff Creech at Carolina Auto Masters got the car running in top form. The results were impressive: The reformulated Vette-christened "Naste 99" for obvious reasons- dyno'd at 611 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels (around 760/750 at the crank). With the powertrain work done, the car was taken to R & D Racing in Reidsville, North Carolina. There, Dave Leavy custom-bent and welded in a five-point rollbar.
On a recent trip to Piedmont Dragway, Naste 99 ran a 6.587 at 106.97 mph in the eighth-mile, posting a 60-foot time of 1.492 seconds (on street-legal M/T tires) along the way. Svoboda is confident the car can break into the 6.40-second range-which equates to a low-10-second quarter-in cooler weather. Until then, the local strip denizens will have another C5 monster to contend with: a stock-looking, street-legal coupe that makes a telltale whistle at them as it leaves the competition behind.
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