The drivetrain installation was next. "Mating the LS1 to the Porsche transaxle was easy with the supplied adapter plate and custom flywheel," Bentzel says. "By October, I was ready for the ceremonial first turn of the key. I put a little fuel in the tanks, engaged the ignition, and the GTM fired up for a second, but that was it. After some head scratching, I figured out the assembly manual had a wiring error on the ignition-circuit wiring. I corrected that, and the GTM roared to life. I drove it around the block a few times in the "go-kart" stage [with no body], just to check things out and to give the neighbors something new to talk about. Confident that my work was a success, I loosely mated the main cockpit body, hood, both doors, and rear hatch onto the chassis, and it was off to the body shop.
"Spraycraft Unlimited in New Port Richey takes credit for this GTM's gorgeous Burnt Fire paint. A couple of years earlier, they repainted my '48 Anglia with House of Kolors Kandy paints, and I loved how it turned out. That's why I wanted to paint the GTM in an HOK Tangerine Kandy. The painter said to me, 'With all the sexy curves on this car, it would look spectacular with ChromaLusion multi-effect paint by DuPont.' Well, before I knew it, he had me sold on the idea, and I had picked out the new color. I really think I made a great choice."
After bringing the coruscating GTM home, Bentzel carried out the closing stages of its construction. He installed an ISIS intelligent multiplex system, a computerized wiring harness that allowed him to add a wide palette of electrical accessories and options, including pushbutton start, security, auxiliary fan control, and more. He also added a Nordskog six-gauge digital dash to the cabin. On the exterior he trimmed the composite body with aluminum hood, side-scoop, and rear-hatch louvers from Vraptor Speed-works. A homebuilt rear wing and custom-made front and rear grilles round out the presentation.
The GTM kit comes standard with a full interior package, including sport seats, carpeting, suede headliner and rollcage covers, covered interior panels, door panels, an engine cover, a rear bulkhead, a carbon-faced dash assembly, Auto Meter gauges, and directional vents for heating and cooling. Bentzel was impressed with the package, but he wanted to give the car a custom touch. "I had AAA Tops and Auto Upholstery in New Port Richey re-stitch most of the interior panels, the seat inserts, and the dash pods. I changed the headliner and made a custom overhead panel to hide the rollcage and the A-pillar supports. After the modifications, I installed the interior myself."
Bentzel titled and tagged the GTM on June 16, 2009, and has since put 3,500 miles on the Corvette-powered supercar. "It turns heads everywhere it goes," he says. "Seeing a camera phone stuck out a car window at intersections is the norm. I've seen two people literally drive off the road because they were paying more attention to my GTM than to their driving.
"The GTM is a blast to drive," he concludes. "The LS1 in a 2,400-pound car makes for some impressive acceleration. It handles like a go-kart in the turns, and the top speed is 150 mph. In the past I've always been a Ford guy, but the Corvette drivetrain and components on the GTM have really turned me into a Vette fanatic. I'm now sold on the brand, and eventually I plan on putting a new Corvette convertible in my driveway."
Smith concurs. "The GTM has received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response in the Corvette community. The car is a true glimpse at how far GM engineering can go in a lighter-weight package. Though I'd love to see Chevrolet incorporate our mid-engine design, improved chassis, and performance advantages into future generations of the Corvette, I think they've left it for us to explore this direction, and that the Corvette will remain what it is today, a front-engine, V-8 American supercar.