1980 Chevrolet Corvette - Evil Incarnate

Russell Long's Sinister-Looking '80 Corvette Has Proved To Be A Blessing And A Curse

Eric Orban Feb 2, 2009 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0902_06_z 1980_chevrolet_corvette L88_hood 1/14

The Corvette's pristine appearance belies its decrepit origins-and the years of labor that helped it earn its "Evil '80" moniker.

The snorting small-block delivers impressive results despite its relatively diminutive displacement. While Russell is coy about the exact details, he will divulge that on 98-octane fuel the C3 produces more than 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque.

With the powerplant successfully resuscitated, a Tremec five-speed manual transmission was installed to handle the new bounty of power. The drivetrain is bolstered with a heavy-duty Exedy Button clutch and a custom driveshaft.

Not content to retain the Vette's "crappy gray interior," Long decided to infuse the cockpit with some American spirit. "I didn't want to go back to the plain-Jane standard interior, so I made up my own-custom Yankee red, white, and blue." Nundah Auto Upholsterers covered the original seats with the American-flag pattern and swapped the dull carpeting for brilliant red. "It's a good thing black paint goes with everything," he says. Modern audio amenities include an Alpine CD-player head unit, a 10-inch subwoofer, and 6x9-inch rear speakers.

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An L88-style hood and Eagle Alloys wheels give Long's Vette a foreboding look out on the road.

The Americana theme is carried into the engine bay with various components painted red and blue. The spotless compartment also contains an assortment of chrome-plated accessories and braided stainless steel hoses. The effect is to combine the custom look of a show car with an air of serious old-school muscle.

Suspension in later-year C3 Corvettes skewed toward a softer, grand-touring car ride, and the cars accordingly lost some of their edge. Long installed Koni shocks and a faster steering rack from a Toyota Cressida to counter the luxury orientation. The aging braking system was enhanced with DBA slotted rotors and Racing Brakes pads, and all four corners received chrome 15x8-inch Eagle Alloys wheels shod in Road Hugger 255/60-15 tires.

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Long--shown here with his son, Luke--is the owner of Performance World, an automotive speed shop in Brisbane, Australia.

With Long spending most of his time overseeing his busy performance shop, the Corvette sees road time only about once a month. Still, he insists that it's not merely a show car. "I built this car to be driven, so it is not a show pony. It just looks nice and neat with some bling and a lot of go," he says. The car is mostly employed as a weekend cruiser, but it also pulls occasional duty at the dragstrip.

With the tribulations of the restoration behind him, Long is happy to finally enjoy the product of his labor. "The car is finished after seven years-thank God," he says. While he describes the Vette as fantastic to drive, with heaps of power, he does plan to add a nitrous system at some point in the future.

Russell Long's Corvette is a demonstration of both the highs and the lows of Corvette restoration. The process was protracted and extremely demanding, but the astounding finished project is well worth the effort. More than just a restomod, Long's "Evil '80" is evidence of a hard-won victory over automotive wickedness.

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