Mike Angeliadis has always had a passion for Corvettes. The love affair started when he was seven and he and his brother received a model road-racing set containing a miniature pair of the Chevy sports cars. "I used to play with that set for hours,"Angeliadis tells us. "That's when I became hooked on Corvettes."
As he grew up, that passion only intensified. "Every year, our local mall would have a Corvette show with over 100 Vettes on display," he says. "My father and I would spend an entire day looking over all the cars. I never missed a show until I moved from Ohio to Florida."
For Angeliadis, his Corvette moment came in 1991, when he spotted a stock '80 Vette on his way to work. "I drove past a local dealer and saw this car," he recalls. "I couldn't get it out of my mind. When I got home that evening, my wife, Olga, told me she had seen a beautiful Corvette earlier in the day. Would you believe we were talking about the same car?"
The pair bought the 80,000-mile Vette that night for $6,500 and launched a concerted effort to restore and customize it. Raising two children and buying a home is struggle enough for most young couples but, little by little, the Angeliadises managed to build their Corvette into the showstopper you see here.
Mike wanted to give the '80 Vette a custom look, so he turned to ACI for a vented high-rise hood, a complete ground-effects package, and a Collector rear wing. "Bob Wallace, who was doing the body and paint work, told me to order ACI pieces because they required very little work," he says. Wallace prepared the body, installed the ACI panels, then laid on the trick Transmission Red Pearl finish (name aside, it's more of an ultra-subtle red over pearlescent white) at Dimmit Chevrolet in Clearwater, Florida, using a Sikkens base/clearcoat combination. A set of rear-window louvers was sourced from Altimeries in St. Petersburg, while Mad Dog Lettering in Tarpon Springs brushed in the subtle pinstriping.
For stopping power, Angeliadis used Vette Brakes and Products' rebuilt factory rotors and calipers. (He's planning to install a bigger set of Baer brakes in the near future.) He also wanted the Vette to handle, and for that he ordered up one of VBP's Grand Touring Plus suspension systems. The package includes beefier front and rear stabilizer bars, powdercoated heavy-duty front coils, and a stiffer rear composite monospring. Bilstein Sport gas shocks, poly-adjustable strut rods, and a complete set of polyurethane bushings allow the Vette to stick to the corners like a painted yellow line. That cornering ability is enhanced by a set of fat P245/45ZR17 Nitto NT555 tires mounted on 17x8-inch American Racing Torq Thrust IIs.
Compared to the car's flamboyant body, the interior retains a relatively conservative look. Angeliadis kept the stock gauges but added an Eckler's rosewood trim kit on the console, center gauge package, and instrument cluster. Cash Upholstery in Spring Hill made up a set of two-tone black-and-red door panels, along with new black seat upholstery with contrasting red inserts and stitching. New carpeting and trim panels were also installed. While Angeliadis had the stock steering wheel on the Vette when our pictures were taken, he's since added an Eckler's rosewood-and-leather wheel to complement the interior colors. Taking off the roof panels for that once-a-week cruise requires tunes, so Angeliadis shoehorned in a Kenwood AM/FM/CD powered by a 200-watt JL Audio amp pumping six Sony Xplod speakers.
Lift the high-rise hood, and there's plenty of flash in the engine compartment. The 350-cube small-block is mostly stock, but the previous owner did slip in a camshaft at some point. All the bright stainless trim was done by American Car Craft in Spring Hill, while Angeliadis purchased the chrome-plated pieces, covers, and brackets from Chromeco in Addison, Illinois. He dressed all the hoses and lines in Russell braiding, and Summit Racing supplied a set of "Heartbeat" valve covers. An Edelbrock 600-cfm four-barrel carburetor is bolted to a chromed intake. Not much else was done to the motor, aside from a quick going-over by Chevrolet Service Center in Largo. Angeliadis did add a set of ceramic-coated Hooker headers with 2.25-inch pipes, an X-crossover, and Flowmaster mufflers with Summit chrome tips.
Even after 17 years, Angeliadis is still not finished with his Corvette. "I know that I may have taken a different route than many other owners," he admits, "since I spent most of my time on the body, interior, and suspension, but I do have more plans for the car." His next project will involve pulling the engine and rebuilding it with a 383 stroker kit and Dart aluminum heads.
Mike and Olga enter their car in dozens of shows in western Florida and, while most Corvette events these days are choked with C5 and C6 models, crowds seem to enjoy seeing this vintage Vette. "We usually place pretty high," Mike says, "mostly for the pearl paint and the chromed-out motor."
Showing the Vette has brought Mike Angeliadis a lot of pleasure, but for him the best part of his Corvette experience began at his very first show. "I parked next to another '80 Corvette," he relates, "and it was painted black. I talked to the owner, and we shared our plans on what we wanted to do with our cars. Twelve years later, we met again at another show and were both shocked to see our accomplishments, many of which were the same, except the cars were still contrasting colors! Today, we're good friends and park side-by-side at Corvette shows."