Corvettes are inarguably beautiful, but some owners choose to put forth appearance as their car's highest virtue. In enthusiast circles, however, the title of "show car" can carry a pejorative connotation, bringing to mind visions of gaudy carpet queens with all manner of nonfunctional aero enhancements and thumping stereos. For performance-minded drivers such nonessentials miss the very point of owning a sports car.
Erick Salado, of West Palm Beach, Florida, shrugged off the vituperation to build his '07 Z06 into the apotheosis of the modern show car. He defies stereotypes with his Z, as it's not just for show but also boasts high-performance credibility. As Salado's only vehicle, it's used as a daily driver, for weekend jaunts to Miami, and even for the occasional blast down the dragstrip.
A longtime auto enthusiast, Salado graduated from Mustangs to Vettes with the introduction of the C6 body style. "I was into the Mustang scene until 2005 when the new body style came out," he says. "I fell in love and bought my first Corvette, a Millennium Yellow '05." Like many Vette owners, Salado was tantalized by the return of the Z06 for 2006. After just two years of customizing his '05, he stepped up to the new flagship with even grander ambitions. "I started to look for a Z06, and there she was sitting in front of a Mercedes dealership." Salado found that the car was historically notable, having been the second Z06 off of the production line in 2007.
After purchasing the Z, Salado began enhancing it through the incremental addition of custom and aftermarket parts. The modification process has been meticulously carried out, and the details of the Z are what set it apart. An extroverted exterior commands attention with a glaring Atomic Orange Metallic hue that exaggerates the sharp creases of the Z's body to give it a taut, muscular profile. The taillights and corner lenses have been blacked out, and the windows sport a dark tint. A custom yellow hood stripe and a GM SPO rear spoiler give the exterior a distinct look.
Deep-dish 360 Forged Spec Multi wheels are the immediate focal point of Salado's Z06. The custom rims measure 20x9.5 inches up front and a monstrous 20x12.5 inches in the rear. The plus-size wheels have their fat lips and inner barrels painted Atomic Orange. The hubs of the three-piece wheels, meanwhile, have been powdercoated with a gritty black coating similar to a spray-on bedliner. The result is a unique look that is considerably more menacing than standard chrome fare.
The custom touches have been carried into the cockpit as well. The center console, steering wheel, and gauge cluster have all been painted to match the exterior. The factory shifter has been replaced with an MGW short-throw unit that is topped with a customized shift knob. The Z also has a number of custom leather interior components from DSVettes, including a center-console pad and boots for both the shifter and emergency brake. If any doubt remains as to the Z's performance integrity, a body-color nitrous bottle prominently holds court in the hatch behind the seats.
Salado did not neglect the engine compartment when customizing his car. The valve covers and many other components have been painted body color. Looking down on the LS7 engine is a mural of The Thing from The Fantastic Four. Salado took inspiration from the orange superhero for his clobberin' Z06, and he displays a large action figure of The Thing with his Z at car shows.
The 427-cube LS7 has seen the addition of a few essential performance parts. The restrictive factory air intake has been exchanged with a Halltech Killer Bee air cleaner for superior breathing. The induction system is further enhanced with a ported LS7 intake and throttle body.
Exhaust flow is expedited with American Racing 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers and an X-shaped cross-pipe. The exhaust system has high-flow catalytic converters to assuage Al Gore's disciples. A Billy Boat Fusion after-cat exhaust has mufflers that retain the butterfly valves of the factory NPP system; these can be opened and closed using a key-fob-style remote control. This high-tech marvel allows Salado to adjust the aural stimulus to suit his mood at the touch of a button. A Nitrous Express dry nitrous system can provide an additional 125 hp on demand.
The bevy of bolt-ons has been optimized with PCM tuning performed by Jeremy Formato with an emphasis on maintaining a usable power band. Without nitrous, the final product is a naturally aspirated output of 498 hp and 478 lb-ft torque. The rush of power thrusts the Z06 down the quarter-mile in a scant 11.35 seconds at 124.87 mph, an impressive feat for a daily-driven show car.
Given the preternatural handling of the stock Z06, Salado thus far has seen no need to make significant changes to the suspension setup. A set of aftermarket lowering bolts bring the boastful car down to earth, while the substantial factory brake calipers have been powdercoated to match the body color.
On the street, Salado attracts more attention than a foot-tapping political contretemps. His wild Z06 stands out even among the multitude of custom exotica roaming the streets in South Florida. The Z is always a crowd-pleaser at car shows and has garnered four awards at local events. It even has the unique distinction of having been used as a promotional vehicle for both Nitto tires and 360 Forged wheels.
Salado credits Blanton Autosports and The Tint Shop with assisting him in the car's creation; Steve Smith, Carlos Yanes, and Jamie B. also pitched in on the build. As he is pleased with the current output of the LS7 engine, Salado is unsure of where he will take his chromatic orange Z06 in the future. He does have plans for a raucous cam, and he defies opponents of horsepower proliferation by refusing to take the full-nuclear turbo-kit option off the table.
Erick Salado's '07 Z06 disregards show-car convention by embracing the divergent roles of daily driver and quarter-mile combatant. Part superhero and part supermodel, this well-rounded Corvette is every bit a supercar for everyday use. And should anyone choose to question the car's performance bona fides, Salado has the means to prove that his Z is much more than just another pretty face.