|Owner||Joseph Bongiorno; Bayshore, NY|
|Block||GM Performance Parts LS9 aluminum|
|Valves||2.160 titanium (intake), 1.590 sodium-filled (exhaust)|
|Camshaft||LS9 hydraulic roller|
|Power Adder||LS9 TVS2300 supercharger with air-to-coolant intercooler|
|Ignition||Stock coil-on-plug, modified by Street & Performance|
|Exhaust||Street & Performance headers and custom pipes|
|Transmission||Tremec T56 six-speed manual, fully polished|
|RearEnd||Dana 44 with 3.73 gears|
|Suspension||Chromed C5 with RideTech air springs (front); chromed C4 with RideTech air springs (rear)|
|Brakes||Stock C6 ZR1 four-wheel disc with carbon-ceramic 15.5-in rotors|
|Wheels||Stock C6 ZR1; 19x10 in front, 20x12 in rear|
|Tires||Michelin Pilot Sport; 285/30ZR19 front, 335/25ZR20 rear|
|Current Mileage||500 (since completion)|
There are high-performance Corvettes, grand touring Corvettes, and Vettes built to grab show-goers’ eyes and not let go.
Joe Bongiorno’s split-window coupe is all of those, and more.
Bongiorno is no stranger to customized Corvettes. “I’ve bought [completed] cars that other people had completely redone, with their ideas and all,” he says of the ones that graced his garage in the past. But this time, he wanted a modified Corvette that was his from the start. “I wanted to make one that was driveable, and have all the modern, up-to-date equipment on it.”
Bongiorno and fabricator Anthony Luca (of Anthony’s Rod and Custom of Middle Island, New York), teamed up to build the ultimate Sting Ray—the car that Zora Arkus-Duntov said many years ago he would be proud to drive in Europe.
Like many Vette projects, this one began with a car that had seen better days.” It was just a basic car that had been pretty well beat up and redone several times,” says Bongiorno of the non-fuelie, non-Z06 donor. “It had a different engine and different parts put into it.”
But, like many a project that grows beyond its original concept, so did this Vette build. “It’s like rebuilding an old house: You have a budget, but before you know it, you keep on going and going and going,” says Bongiorno. “Once you start putting the better things in there, you want the best of everything, and there’s no turning back.”
Those “better things” included a tubular SRIII Motorsports frame holding a C4/C5-based suspension system. The unorthodox setup uses RideTech’s air springs and hardware instead of steel coils or composite leaves.
For power, Bongiorno and Luca contacted Street & Performance for a “better thing” in a crate: a modern-tech LS9 engine, complete with supercharger, intercooler, modified dry-sump oiling system, and custom exhaust. Backing it are a fully polished, Hurst-shifted T56 gearbox and a 3.73-geared Dana 44 rearend—all of which Luca and SRIII set up to work together.
Inside, after Tom Gallina’s rewiring job was complete, Luca (and John Prentice at Miller Place Upholstery in Miller Place, New York) treated the cabin to C5 sport seats covered in bison leather, a Budnik steering wheel, carbon-fiber AutoMeter gauges, and a Pioneer/JL Audio sound system.
Outside, Luca crafted a ZR1-style hood, smoothed the engine bay, and got the ’63’s body ready for the custom-mixed two-stage PPG Blue paint.
Two-and-a-half years after the decrepit donor car rolled into Luca’s shop, this gem rolled out, and it’s been a show-stopper ever since. If you’ve been at any Corvette meets or other big automotive events on the East Coast recently, that big crowd eyeing a blue split-window is probably looking at this one.
Needless to say, the car’s performance is even better than its looks. “It drives beautifully,” says Bongiorno. “It’s unbelievable!”
Bongiorno gives plenty of credit for this sensational split-window to fabricator Luca. “He did some job, the way he put it together,” he says of the final result, which looks almost like a factory build.
Or maybe a special Chevy Engineering/Chevy Styling project of the early ’60s!
“Once you start putting the better things in there, you want the best of everything, and there’s no turning back”—Joe Bongiorno