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.
Over the course of the next two show seasons, Crisafi racked up 30-plus First Place awards in Tri-State–area car shows, but that merely whetted his appetite for even more mods. In 2009, he color-coordinated the Z's cabin with Velocity Yellow custom seat and interior trim and a DS Vettes custom steering wheel, which were sewn and installed by Automat in Hicksville, New York.
Was he finished?
"Not even close," he says.
As a prelude to the 2010 show season, Crisafi took the Vette to Checkers Auto Appearance Center in Egg Harbor, New Jersey, for a host of exterior and engine-bay appearance upgrades. "I was already earning First Places at every show I entered," he says. "I wanted to [take] my car to the next level--a real show stopper," he says.
Checkers owner Steve Amadio suggested backlit Z06 emblems, which he made by cutting the outlines of the factory Z06 cloisonné badges from the Corvette's carbon-fiber fenders, installing flush-mount acrylic inserts, airbrushing them with the Z06 logo, and illuminating them with LED bars. Crisafi controls the light show with programmable switches mounted inside the glovebox. "Not only can I light the Z06 emblems with a flick of the switch, but I can flash them fast or slow, and fade them in or out," he says.
Checkers then turned up the heat on the Z's engine-bay aesthetics, including ceramic-coating the long-tubes to match the red color of the silicone hoses that Crisafi had previously installed, painting the fuel rails Velocity Yellow (complete with Corvette and 427 callouts, and a carbon-fiber-style center band), airbrushing checkered-flag designs on the Callaway Honker CAI airbox and radiator cover, installing stainless-steel covers, and more. When they were done, the underhood area was ready to take on all comers.
Amadio and his team then added one-off details to the Corvette's exterior: airbrushing Z06 logos onto the headlight assemblies' inserts, applying carbon-fiber-style hydrographics to the headlight pods, and painting the wheel drums black, with a contrasting Corvette logo on each in Velocity Yellow.
Final touches were performed by a local craftsman who goes by the moniker "J.T." He applied hand-pinstriping on the door coves and a "Skream'n Bee" logo on the rear-bumper cover.
To date, Crisafi's Z has tallied more than 40 First Place show awards--and he's proven his Z has as much go as show by storming the (Englishtown, New Jersey) Raceway Park quarter-mile strip in 11.1 seconds.
What does the future hold for this zippy Z? "I've taken many First Places and Best of Shows, and I really feel I've transformed my Corvette into a rolling work of art," Crisafi concludes. "Beyond that, I've been blessed with the best honor a Corvette owner can ever wish for--I'm in VETTE magazine!"
What can we say to top that except, "Never argue with a cop"?
Lou Crisafi thanks Ed Gentile from TKO Performance in Long Island, who helped him with parts and advice.
|Owner||Lou Crisafi; Brooklyn, NY|
|Block||Stock cast aluminum with pressed-in cylinder sleeves and six-bolt, forged-steel main bearing caps|
|Heads||Cartek LS7X aluminum with Comp 921 valvesprings, titanium retainers, steel locators, and new valve seals; hand porting and polishing by Brooklyn Vettes|
|Valves||2.20 titanium/1.61 sodium-filled|
|Camshaft||Cartek LS7X cam (227/242-deg duration, 0.608/0.610-in lift, 116-deg LSA)|
|Rocker Arms||1.8-ratio, offset (intake only)|
|Pistons||Stock hypereutectic aluminum|
|Crankshaft||Stock forged steel|
|Rods||Stock forged titanium|
|Intake Manifold||Stock composite|
|Throttle Body||Ported stock 90mm|
|Ignition||Stock coil-near-plug, GM Performance Parts high-performance wires, NGK TR55 plugs|
|Engine Management||Stock ECU with Cartek race-performance tune|
|Exhaust System||American Racing long-tube headers (ceramic coated by Checker Auto) with 1.875-in primaries, X-style crossover with integrated high-flow catalytic converters, Corsa Sport Exhaust|
|Transmission||Stock TR-6060 six-speed manual|
|Front Brakes||Stock six-piston calipers with cross-drilled rotors|
|Rear Brakes||Stock four-piston calipers with cross-drilled rotors|
|Wheels||West Coast Corvette 946 chrome, 18x9.5/19x12 (front/rear)|
|Front Tires||Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar Extended Mobility, 285/35ZR18|
|Rear Tires||Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar Extended Mobility, 325/30ZR19|
|Miles Driven Weekly||Approximately 30|