1998 Chevy Corvette - State Of Emergency

'98 Coupe

Tommy Lee Byrd Feb 21, 2012 0 Comment(s)
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A paramedic's life is full of action, but sometimes the excitement of the job just isn't enough--especially if the paramedic in question is a car guy (or gal). Larry Gibson Jr. is a great example, as he spends his working hours helping folks in his town of New Tazewell, Tennessee, in the event of an emergency. When he isn't saving people's lives, he's in the shop with his '98 Corvette, a killer street/strip machine with tons of power. The car is a basic C5, which is a breath of fresh air in many ways. With all the high-dollar C6 Z06 and ZR1s out there these days, Gibson proved that building a cool Corvette doesn't have to involve a $75,000 starting point. While he appreciates the high-end cars, he has plenty of fun behind the wheel of his C5, which he bought a few years ago for just $25,000.

At the time of purchase, the car had been well-kept, with only 30,000 miles on the odometer after 10 years on the road. Gibson bought it from a used-car dealership, and it was completely stock. The following year was spent acquiring speed parts and preparing the Vette for modification. Gibson relied heavily on the assistance of Nick Steffens of High Pressure Motorsports during the buildup, and the finished product speaks volumes about Steffens' efforts, as well as Gibson's attention to detail. The car is extremely clean inside and out, and it makes great power, thanks to a nitrous-sniffing Vortec truck engine.

While Gibson compromised in the weight department by going with the 6.0L iron-block truck mill, he more than made up for it with big-time power. The strength and potency of the LQ4/LQ9 Vortec truck engines are well known among LS enthusiasts, and Gibson picked up on the trend with his C5 project car. He sent the block to LS1 Performance, where it was fitted with an Eagle crankshaft, Eagle H-beam 6.125-inch connecting rods, and JE pistons. The forged bottom end features a 4.000-inch stroke and a 4.030-inch bore, creating a final displacement of 408 ci. Gibson opted to use the 317-casting truck cylinder heads, which are very popular with the power-adder crowd. He had them ported to increase airflow, but kept the stock valves and rocker arms.

The camshaft is from Crower and features 0.617-inch lift on the intake side and 0.621-inch lift on the exhaust, making for an intimidating exhaust note and maximum performance when combined with the NOS 250-shot nitrous kit. Incoming air passes through a 90mm throttle body before it enters the LS2 intake manifold. To support the additional power, Gibson installed a Racetronix dual fuel-pump system, which feeds Aeromotive fuel rails and 42-pound injectors; an Aeromotive pressure regulator ensures sufficient flow. Outbound fumes flow through a set of stainless-steel long-tube headers before entering three-inch piping and a Billy Boat exhaust system. Nick Steffens tuned the nitrous-fed engine with HP Tuners software, which helped it produce 763 hp and 730 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels on 110-octane race gas.

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Handling all this power is a super-strong automatic transmission from RPM. The gearbox, a Level V 4L65E, is packed full of billet goodies to withstand hard launches and provide efficient power application. The torque converter is from Yank, and it stalls to 3,600 rpm as Gibson prepares to let it rip. The rearend features a Z06 differential with carbon clutch packs and a billet pinion support. Additional rearend components consist of a DTE transmission/differential strut brace and ECS halfshaft safety loops. Hardened shafts send power to the M&H Racemaster slicks, which measure 26.0x12.0 inches and mount to 16x10-inch CCW wheels. The slicks came from Coker Tire, as did the Firestone Deluxe Champion front-runner tires, which wrap around skinny CCW Drag Pack 16-inch front rims. Z06 brakes with drilled rotors stand in for the stock stoppers, and the suspension has been lowered by about an inch-and-a-half at all four corners.

In terms of aesthetics, Gibson's car is top notch, with a slick, black paintjob performed by David Guy at Otto's Body Shop. The body is all stock, but Gibson and Jerry Schelegel straightened it up before Guy laid down the PPG materials. Inside, Gibson installed a Wolfe Race Craft six-point rollcage, as well as RCI five-point safety harnesses to keep him safe behind the wheel. He also added an Auto Meter Pro Comp nitrous-pressure gauge and an Innovate Motorsports wideband gauge, so he could keep a close watch on the 408ci beast under the hood.

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Gibson's Corvette weighs in at 3,740 pounds, so it's pretty heavy for a C5, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the timeslips. So far, the car has run a best of 9.97 at 138 mph in the quarter-mile, with a 6.31-second eighth-mile time at 113 mph. Gibson uses QA1 adjustable shocks on all four corners to dial in the launch, and he's been extremely successful, proving the car's potential with a 1.35-second 60-foot time. His home track is Knoxville Dragway, but our photo shoot took place at Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip, while the action shots came from I-40 Dragway.

Gibson doesn't mind wringing his C5 out on the track, but the car's immaculate condition leads us to believe he treats it very well. And when his day job gets dull, all he has to do is fire up this killer Corvette to liven things up a bit.

Spec Sheet

'98 Coupe

Owner Larry Gibson Jr.; New Tazewell, TN
Block 6.0L Vortec iron
Displacement 408 ci
Compression Ratio 11.0:1
Heads Ported 317 aluminum
Valves Stock 2.08/1.60
Camshaft Crower roller with 0.617/0.621 lift
Rocker Arms Stock 1.7 ratio
Pistons JE forged aluminum
Crankshaft Eagle forged 4340 steel
Rods Eagle forged-steel H-beam, 6.125-inch
Intake Manifold LS2 composite
Fuel Pump Racetronix dual in-tank
Ignition Stock coil-on-plug with MSD Wires and NGK Plugs
Exhaust System Stainless-steel headers with 3-inch Billy Boat Bullet Quad exhaust
Transmission RPM Level V 4L65E automatic
Torque Converter Yank 3,600 rpm
Front Suspension Lowered 1.5-in, QA1 shocks
Rear Suspension Lowered 1.5-in, QA1 shocks
Rearend Z06 3-rib case with 3.73 gears
Front Brakes Z06 with drilled rotors
Rear Brakes Z06 with drilled rotors
Wheels CCW Drag Pack; 16x5 (front), 16x10 (rear)
Front Tires Coker Firestone Bias Ply, 5.00/5.25-16
Rear Tires M&H Racemaster Slicks, 26.0x12.0-16
Fuel Octane 110
Weight 3,740 lbs.

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