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MTI Racing's 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Race Car - Dual Personality

MTI Racing Builds A High-Lux Droptop With Power To Burn

Walt Thurn May 1, 2009
Vemp_0905_02_z Mti_racings_2003_chevrolet_corvette_race_car Performance_intercooler 2/11

Twin intercoolers help take advantage of the modest 5-psi boost pressure. Each one receives air via a small grille opening. The end result is a rousing 700 flywheel horsepower.

These days, everything about Glen Morehead's '03 50th Anniversary convertible shouts quality, from its flawless paint to its spectacular Connolly leather interior. But it wasn't always this way. Disappointed with the factory offering, Morehead commissioned Atlanta's MTI Racing to craft a Corvette that properly commemorated the marque's 50th birthday. His goal was a subtle, dual-personality Vette that could serve as both a luxurious daily cruiser and a take-no-prisoners performance hauler.

Fortunately, he went to the right place. MTI owner Reese Cox is a former Corvette racer with a long history of building fast, reliable modified C5s and C6s. He sat down with Morehead, and the two sketched out a plan to make the double-duty dream car a reality.

The transformation began with MTI completely disassembling the stock car, then carefully labeling, cataloguing, and storing every part. Morehead then selected the grade of Connolly leather and the colors he wanted for his new interior.

Next, Ken's Stereo in Macon rewired the cabin with a Kenwood sound-and-entertainment system boasting satellite radio, a navigation system, and an in-dash DVD player. Dynamat sound insulation was installed to reduce heat and noise, and a custom leather dash, door panels, and deep-pile carpet were fitted. Custom, six-way, carbon-fiber seats round out the presentation, yielding a subtle, but stunning, driving environment.

Vemp_0905_03_z Mti_racings_2003_chevrolet_corvette_race_car Satellite_radio_navigation 3/11

The satellite-radio and navigation-receiving units are located beneath the passenger-side windshield wiper, and are almost completely hidden when the hood is closed.

Moving to the exterior, MTI installed one of its Aero II body packages, including new quarter-panels and front and rear bumper caps. The kit also fea-tures a new air-extractor hood, front splitter, and custom undertray. Once the new panels were fitted, the car was repainted in its original 50th Anni-versary Red "Xirallic crystal" color.

While the factory Magnetic Selective Ride Control was retained, the electronic shock valving was reconfigured to provide more-aggressive handling in the Sport setting. MTI also installed stronger front and rear composite springs, along with stiffer sway bars at both ends. After considerable trial and error, Cox settled on Forgeline WC3 18x10.5-inch front and 18x12-inch rear wheels--the largest he could fit in the stock fenderwells. He had the wheel centers painted 50th Anniversary Gold to preserve the original color scheme, then mounted Michelin Pilot Sport 275/35-18 front and 335/30-18 rear tires.

Next, an MTI 427ci engine with AFR heads was built for the car. When finished, it dyno'd at 574 flywheel horsepower using a modest 9:1 compression ratio and a mild MTI cam. To push power to the next level, a ProCharger twin-intercooled blower pumping out 5 psi of boost was added to the combo. The supercharger was fitted with a custom eight-rib drive, which--along with MTI long-tube headers and a MagnaFlow exhaust system--helped increase output to 700 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque. All that power is hooked up to a factory T56 six-speed paired with a 3.73 rear gear. This shorter-than-stock axle ratio makes the transmission's Fifth and Sixth gears more useable on the highway.

The car idles smoothly, with just a hint of blower noise, but it doesn't take much to unleash the beast within. Power is instant and breathtaking, and it's available throughout the rev range. Morehead recently made a 6,000-mile trip to Canada, during which the car averaged 23 mpg and evinced zero mechanical problems. Looks like his goal of creating a dual-purpose performer has come true at last.



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