When Ken Woodcock, a retired Marine from West Grove, Pennsylvania, bought his 10th Corvette-a Millennium Yellow '00 convertible-in 2004, he planned on keeping it 100 percent stock. But what's a man to do when his wife tells him to go get some mods?
"I bought my first Corvette shortly after getting out of the Marines and getting back from Viet Nam," Woodcock says. "It was a Fathom Green '69 427/390 coupe, and it began my love affair with the Corvette. Fast-forward 32 years, and the love affair is still going strong. So when I bought a C5 and told my wife, Joann, I was going to keep it all-original, I thought she'd agree with my decision-but she didn't." It went like this:
Ken: "Honey, this one I'm keeping totally stock. I'm not changing a thing."
Joann: "Yeah, but it just doesn't sound like a Corvette. You'll have to change a few things."
What the two didn't realize then was that Ken was about to embark upon a four-year mission to turn the stock C5 into a supercharged, 640hp ZL7 supercar capable of besting Z06s at the track, on the road course, and on the street.
"My first mods were to make the Corvette sound more like a vicious animal," Woodcock says. "I began with an x-type pipe system, Random Tech cats, B&B Bullet mufflers, and 3-inch stainless steel pipes. That gave the Vette the growl it needed."
Design alterations followed. Holcomb's Auto Body in West Grove, Pennsylvania, installed an aerodynamically inspired ACI front splitter and ground effects, along with a Caravaggio rear wing. "After the first set of mods, I liked the way the Corvette looked-and the exhaust had certainly boosted the performance level. Even so, I didn't feel it was quite fast enough or unique enough," Woodcock says.
Woodcock next contacted SLP Performance Parts of Toms River, New Jersey, to purchase the company's ZL7 427 C5 Corvette PerformancePac. This all-encompassing engine-upgrade package comes with 1.85-ratio rocker arms, an 85mm MAF sensor, a Blackwing cold-air induction system, a DiabloSport II programmer with custom SLP tuning, and an LS6 intake manifold. Used together, these parts are said to boost the output of an LS1 Vette to around 427 hp. To free up even more ponies, Woodcock also added a set of LG Motorsports' highly regarded long-tube headers with 1.75-inch primaries.
"I really liked the way the Corvette performed, but I wanted more," Woodcock says. Accordingly, he took his C5 to East Coast Supercharging (ECS) in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, where 4.10 gears and a case-hardened output shaft were added.
That would have been enough for most Corvette owners, but Woodcock admits that he was by now fully in the throes of mod fever, and so the metamorphosis continued. He returned the car to Holcomb's, where it received a pair of LSD vertical Lambo doors, an ACP carbon-fiber-and-fiberglass hood, and custom-painted stripes. "I started to win a lot more car shows after the third year of mods," he says. "My Corvette really stood out, and I liked the attention it received."
Woodcock decided he wanted the engine compartment to look as good as the rest of the car, so he contacted Creative Engine Covers in Midlothian, Virginia, for a full complement of chrome underhood jewelry. The bechromed items included a cowl insert and bolt kit, a bumper insert and bolt kit, an alternator bracket, a brake-booster cover, a master-cylinder cover, a power-steering-reservoir cover, and a dipstick handle. Woodcock also procured a chrome alternator from Tuff Stuff to add to the engine-bay presentation.
Then it was off to Auto Buffs in Southampton, New Jersey, where Noel Mercado custom-painted the carbon-fiber fuel-rail and fender covers. "Working with an idea from Ken, we laid the groundwork for a signature racing theme," Mercado says. "The covers were first degreased and sanded down to ensure proper paint adhesion. Once the parts were ready, we laid down the graphics in three steps. The final result was an eye-catching racing flag that stands off the carbon fiber with a dimensional look."
With the Millennium Yellow Corvette looking exactly the way Woodcock envisioned, it was time for one last mod-a big one. "I was unsure whether to go for a head/cam package or a supercharger," he says. But after talking to ECS, he had his answer. "We both felt a supercharger would give me the look-and, of course, the performance-I was after."
To make that power request a reality, the ECS folks installed one of their SC600 kits, featuring a Paxton Novi 2000 head unit, polished intake ducting, an ECS custom oversized intercooler, silicon couplers, Motron 60-lb/hr injectors, an MSD fuel pump, NGK TR-6 spark plugs, an ECS valve-cover breather, and a catch can. The car's drivetrain was also beefed up with a Textralia dual-friction clutch and heavy-duty flywheel. During dyno testing, the once-stock Corvette pulled a healthy 540 horses at the rear wheels (around 635 at the flywheel), an accomplishment Woodcock described as giving him "a feeling of great joy."
"When Ken first came to us, we were really excited about working with him to help build him a show-winning car," says ECS' Chris Coriell. "When we were done installing our custom supercharger kit, the car had the power to complement its looks."
But with great power comes the need for greater traction, so it was back to the drawing board once again. "The C5 had such unbelievable torque and pure, unadulterated horsepower that I knew I needed wider tires," Woodcock says. To that end, he had Holcomb's install a set of Scott Lewis C5 flares and functional Z06 rear-brake ducts, making it possible to add oversized iForged Daytona wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot 265/35ZR19 front and 335/30ZR20 rear rubber. C6 Z06 brakes at all four corners round out the modifications.
After four years of majoring in mods, Woodcock entered his Corvette in 22 shows in 2007 and took home 23 awards, including many "Best of" trophies and a Best in Class at the Super Chevy event in Maple Grove, Pennsylvania. "Like many C5 owners, I started with minor mods, but to be competitive at shows, you really have to step up a notch," he says. "Once you go down the modification path, you have to jump in with both feet. My goal was to make a car that could stand toe-to-toe with the C6 Z06, not only in straight-line speed, but in cornering and braking as well. I also wanted it to be dependable. The end result is a well-balanced performance car-not just a show car, but one that puts out more horsepower than the C6 Z and maybe even more than the new ZR1. Mission accomplished."
But what about Woodcock's wife? Didn't she just want the Corvette to sound a little bit more like, well, a Corvette? "My wife hasn't complained about the Vette being too quiet since all these mods were done to it, but I think she's running out of patience with the add-ons," Woodcock says. "I'll just have to remind her, 'Honey, I was the one who wanted to keep the Corvette stock. You're the one who said it needed a few changes.'"