Joe Anciello is a bit of a mystery: I don’t know the guy from Adam, and despite the fact that this story is about his car, I’ve never spoken with him. I don’t know if he voted Romney or Obama, prefers oatmeal or Raisin Bran, or rocks out to the Stones or Zeppelin. For all I know, he might save stray kitties in his free time—or hunt wild boar with a bow and arrow. And believe me, this unfamiliarity isn’t from a lack of trying: When VETTE decided to feature his LSX454-powered C5, we were psyched to hear from the man himself regarding the wicked LSX engine, the tuned suspension, and, of course, the killer exterior look. But Anciello wasn’t talking.
Thankfully, there are ways around this particular problem. Just as your wife’s hairdresser knows her much better than you ever will (it’s called “paying attention,” gentlemen, and…are you listening to me?), chances are that your favorite mechanic is pretty intimate with that beauty in your garage. Anciello’s mechanic happens to be Greg Lovell, owner of AntiVenom Racing in Seffner, Florida. So I did what every intrepid journalist on a deadline does: I went and bugged Lovell about Anciello’s ’99 Corvette.
“Joe is a very private individual,” Lovell starts. “I met him when he showed up at one of our dyno days. And this is his first Corvette; he bought it new on a whim when it was sitting at the dealership.”
What kind of guy buys a new Corvette on a whim? A filthy-rich collector of fast toys? A lifelong Vette lover who woke up one day and decided to pull the trigger? Some random dude who was sucked in by the C5’s sexy, curvy siren song? Beats me.
Lovell continues: “He started attending car shows with it, and one thing led to another…”
Definitely a lifelong Vette lover.
“At first it was a bolt-on car. Then we did a heads/cam package. And then it got a 402. Joe has always given us creative freedom with it. So after he talked to us about making even more naturally aspirated power, we decided to stop making small steps and simply go to the biggest [engine] available. This time out, it had to be unreal.”
Unreal? GM Performance Parts’ LSX454 has got that covered. Anciello and AntiVenom may have gone the crate-engine route, but the LSX454 is no run-of-the-mill mill. GMPP starts with a beefy iron block with 4.185-inch holes, and adds six-bolt, cross-bolted main caps. The all-forged rotating assembly comprises a 4.125-inch crank, 6-inch rods, and aluminum pistons. GMPP’s 236/246 hydraulic roller cam commands 1.8 rockers, and aluminum, LS7-port heads blow big air through 2.20/1.61-inch valves. Combined with the dished pistons, the result is an 11:1 compression ratio.
A host of peripheral parts were bolted up to enhance the big V-8: When those intake valves open, an AntiVenom cold-air intake, a Comtech throttle body, and a FAST LSXR manifold are ready with a big shot of cold air. Once the Racetronix pump and 42-pound injectors do their thing, MSD wires help ignite the charge. Finally, spent fuel exits through 1.875-inch long-tube headers, an “X” crossover pipe, and a Borla exhaust system.
Making a Gen IV engine work in a Gen III car always involves a few tweaks. For Anciello’s build, Lovell and company used a custom AntiVenom 8-bolt C5 flexplate, and they did some machining on the motor mount pedestals for a perfect fit. The factory wiring harness was modified to Gen IV engine specs with EV6 injector plugs, a front-mounted cam sensor, and relocated knock sensors. AntiVenom converted the Vette’s EFI to speed density, and with HP Tuners software dialing in a 12.8:1 air/fuel ratio, we’re told that 620 horsepower arrives at the flywheel.
01 Slatted ACP hood helps vent excess heat from the big-inch LS engine. 02 That mirror-like paint is ’09 Victory Red…and how cool is the C6.R-style, all-black rear fascia? 03 Chrome C6 wheels are of the split-spoke, ’08-up variety. They front C6 Z51 brakes at each corner. 04 You may not know mysterious C5 owner Joe Anciello, but the LSX454—one of the biggest crate engines on the planet—needs no introduction.