1998 Chevrolet Corvette - Rad, White, And Blue

An Aircraft Engineer Launches A 500-Horse Patriot Missile

Christopher R. Phillip Apr 8, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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Afterwards, Mafrici revamped the interior cabin again, this time with custom red-and-blue-leather door panels and trim to match the new look of his Corvette.

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Then it was time for even more fun-squeezing more power out of the factory LS1. "In 2005, I decided to upgrade the engine with LS6 power," he explains. "There were a few websites that walked you through the changes, and I knew that my engineering background gave me the skills I needed to do the work myself. I retained the stock LS1 bottom end and upgraded it with a GM Performance Parts Hot Cam. Then I added GMPP LS6 racing heads with 61cc combustion chambers-which raised the compression to 12:1-Lunati pushrods, and Harland Sharp 1.8:1 roller rockers. I also changed the timing chain and the oil pump, and replaced the stock valve covers with C5-R units to give more clearance," he says.

Other engine mods include a Holley/John Lingenfelter Series polished EFI manifold with ported intake runners, modified coil mounts, Aeromotive billet fuel runners, and an Aeromotive EFI fuel regulator set at 60 psi.

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Exhaust gases are exhaled through Bassani heat-wrapped long-tube headers (1 7/8-inch primaries) mated to a custom 3-inch exhaust that was designed and installed by Liverpool Exhaust in Moorebank. The nicest feature of the system is an electric bypass unit called the M5, which allows Mafrici to keep the exhaust mellow when he desires, or flip a switch and make it bellow. "You cannot believe the looks my Corvette gets when I drive it in full-bypass mode. When I back off hard, flames shoot out of the exhaust," he says. The suspension remains stock, except for polished A-arms, lowering springs, and Energy Suspension bushings.

What kind of power does this patriotic people-pleaser produce? According to Mafrici, his Vette spins the dial at 500 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. That may explain why he's on the third rebuild of the factory 4L60E, its most recent incarnation sent to Craig's Automatics in Chipping Norton for bulletproofing; the rearend is a factory Getrag LSD outfitted with 2.73 gears.

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Though it has won more than 40 awards at car shows throughout Australia, this red, white, and blue Corvette's biggest compliment may have come from an American car club traveling Down Under. "When the graphics were finally completed, the Las Vegas Corvette Club was in Australia and joined my local club at a BBQ that we hosted," Mafrici says. The Yanks' responses? "They absolutely loved my Corvette. They wanted to take it back to America with them," he says.

That's easy to believe. After all, red, white, and blue has always been hard to beat, especially on a Corvette. As John Greenwood's C3 race cars proved time and time again in the 1970s, the spirit of the Vette and the spirit of America have always been one and the same: the determination to win, the desire to stand out from the crowd, and the love of the open road.

The same holds true today. "Most people in Australia love the look of my Corvette, too," Mafrici says. "But every now and then I get a few angry looks and comments [from Australian loyalists]. I don't care. My Corvette is here to please me, not them. If I ever get the chance to bring my Corvette to America, I will. I'm sure I can find plenty of people who agree with me that the American flag looks great on a Corvette...about 304 million of them!"

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