When a retired law-enforcement professional returns to his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, he finds himself in hot pursuit, but it's not a lead-footed traffic offender he's chasing; it's the ultimate custom Corvette Z06.
"I've owned Corvettes for decades, starting with the C3s I raced when I got out of the Marine Corp," Lou Crisafi tells VETTE. "I competed against Porsches in the parking area at Jack Murphy Stadium, where the San Diego Padres played."
Crisafi owned six third-gen Vettes (ranging from a '71 to a '81), followed by four C4s, and two C5s. In December 2006, he took his supercharged '99 Victory Red coupe to Paramus Chevrolet in Paramus, New Jersey, to have its service department install C6 Z06-style chrome wheels.
"My wheels were still in shipping boxes when I arrived at the dealership to check them out," he says. "That's when Service Manager Tom McLaughlin 'fessed up. ‘They just put out a new Z06 in the Corvette showroom upstairs,' he told me.
"That's like telling a cop where the suspect is," Crisafi continues. "I went upstairs, and right where he said--smack dab in the middle of the showroom--was an '07 Velocity Yellow Z06 with a big red bow on it. As soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it, and I bought it right then and there."
The car was equipped with the Z06's mandatory 7.0L LS7 mill rated at 505 hp, as well as the optional 2LZ Equipment Group (seat-mounted side-impact air bags, power-telescopic steering, auto-dimming mirrors, heated seats, and more) and Q44 Competition Gray Aluminum Wheels. Crisafi says he was in ecstasy, except for one thing--the wheels. "I rushed back to the service department and told them, ‘Don't put the wheels on the '99, because I just bought the Z in the showroom. We'll have to return them and get the correct fitment.'"
That was going to be the extent of his mods. "Who's going to modify an $80,000 Corvette?" he asks. "I honestly had my mind set on keeping the Z factory stock, except for the wheels. I even told my buddies in the Brooklyn Vettes car club, ‘I'm not touching this car with mods.'"
In April 2007, he swapped out his wheels again--this time for a set of West Coast Corvette's 946 EXT Forged Series. "I was so happy with its new look that I took it to a Corvette-only car show in Long Island and won Third Place," he recalls.
When he returned home from the event, however, he felt different about his Z. As he looked it over--front to rear, engine bay, and interior--he began to imagine all the ways he could customize it. "I was bitten by the mod bug at the car show…bitten good," he says.
To inspire his imagination, he bought a 1?18-scale model C6 and used it as a canvas, drawing stripes on it until he found the look. "I loved the hash marks on the '07 Ron Fellows ALMS GT1 Edition Z, and the black hood stripe on the '08 Limited Edition Z," he explains. "In early 2008, I had a local shop paint both of them on my car. I earned a First Place soon after."
The better the Corvette looked to him, however, the more he felt it demanded more power. Before long he enlisted the experts at Cartek Performance Engineering in Garwood, New Jersey, who installed the company's signature LS7X cam and a set of its LS7X heads. "They were hand-ported and polished by my buddies Paulie Salerno, Jimmy McQuade, and Phil Melzack at Brooklyn Vettes," he says.
Then it was time for the Vette to make the journey to American Racing Headers in Long Island, where it got a set of 1-7/8-inch long-tube headers and an X-style crossover with integrated high-flow catalytic converters (mated to an existing Corsa Sport 3-inch after-cat exhaust). Afterwards, it was back to Cartek for custom tuning and dyno testing, which confirmed the Z was putting out 550-plus horsepower at the rear wheels.