It took Brent Jackson five years to plan, build, and unveil this twin-turbocharged '65 Corvette, a car purposely designed to impress any and all who beheld it. The motivation behind the project reaches beyond Jackson's desire to cruise the streets of California with a one-off midyear. Its true purpose is to show off the capabilities of his custom shop, Brent Jackson's Customs (Green Valley, California). The Corvette is a calling card of sorts, as it embodies both the vision behind such creations and the in-house talents needed to make them happen. Jackson pulled out all the stops with this build, and the result is a Corvette like no other.
Building a custom car as a rolling advertisement for your company can be risky. You have to go above and beyond; otherwise the effort is wasted or, worse, counterproductive. In Jackson's case, he was able to tap into his previous area of expertise-the boating industry, where his company specialized in restoring flat-bottom boats and fiberglass. He spent an entire career working with 'glass, and his abilities came in handy with this '65.
"I started to customize each section the way I thought it should look. I also tried to give it a modern appearance," explains Jackson. The shop spent considerable time modifying the body to get it lower on the C4 Corvette chassis that was grafted under the skin. Ultimately, the front nose and rear pan were dropped 2 inches. Once those modifications were made, Jackson also had to modify the rockers and other little parts and pieces so the body looked proper. A custom front chin spoiler was designed and built to help with the lowered look and to channel air into the intercooler (more on that in a moment). Look closely and you'll notice plenty of subtle features, like the flush-mounted glass windows, shaved door handles, opened side vents, and filled cowl vents.
Under the modified '65 Vette body resides the aforementioned C4 chassis, which was acquired through Newman Car Creations. The company sells two kits that will convert '53 through '82 Corvettes to use C4-style suspension systems. The kit Jackson installed includes a five-link IRS rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, and many other features to bring the '65 up to modern handling standards. Along with the C4 suspension components (all of which fit on the Newman chassis), Jackson upgraded to HAL adjustable shocks, adjustable sway bars, and better bushings. The rearend was also narrowed 3 inches in order to fit the massive Michelin PS2 345/30-19 rear meats. These were mounted on Intro GT 19x11.5-inch wheels, while the front Intro GTs check in at 18x9 and are wrapped in 245/40-18 PS2 rubber.
With the body and chassis squared away, it was time to add some grunt under the hood. For that task Jackson showed up at Nelson Racing Engines (Chatsworth, California), a shop whose reputation for big horsepower and custom looks has made it a popular choice for custom-car builders. Proprietor and mastermind behind the NRE brand, Tom Nelson, prescribed the company's popular NRE-355, from its Daily Driver Series. "I've always loved turbo motors for the visual appeal [and their] massive torque and driveability," says Jackson.
The NRE-355 boasts 800 hp and 790 lb-ft of torque while sipping 91-octane pump gas. Its peak power comes at a mild 6,000 rpm, while the torque is in full swing by 3,900 rpm. The shop started with a Dart block and added a GM steel crankshaft, Callies 4340 forged connecting rods, custom JE pistons, and Brodix Track 1 cylinder heads. Nelson designed the hydraulic roller camshaft to idle smoothly at 800 rpm and have mild street manners-until you lay into the throttle with extreme force. Once the 355ci bullet goes into WOT, the two Turbonetics 60mm turbochargers sing to the tune of 14 psi, and the Vette gets going in a hurry. Nelson tuned the combo for max power and street worthiness using an Electromotive EFI system.