With the L88 427 engine and other big-blocks on the order sheet, the Corvette generation launched in 1968-commonly called "sharks" today-seemed promising. But as the '60s gave way to the '70s, the sharks began to lose their bite.
By the mid-'70s, the big-blocks were gone, leaving only smog-equipment-laden small-blocks to carry the crossed-flags banner. Things began to look up at the dawn of the '80s, but incremental horsepower increases and new technologies, such as the induction experiment known as Crossfire Injection, failed to rekindle the performance experience of a decade earlier.
Regardless of their performance heritage, shark Corvettes have an endearing quality. Their aggressive, blistered bodywork carried over largely intact through 1982, and a big-block engine swaps easily into any '68-'82 chassis. That's an enticing prospect for the enthusiast who wants big-time performance without incurring the cost or the political firestorm that comes with modifying a more collectible early-model car.
That's exactly what Ed Orzetti did with his '82 Corvette. It's a low-mile car that wears its original paint, and with its L83 350 rated at only 200 hp, there was certainly room for improvement under the hood. He formulated a plan to build a stock-looking, but high-powered, Vette-and he turned to ACCEL DFI (www.accel-dfi.com) to give it a modern twist.
Orzetti is the president of Keystone Automotive Operations, which was founded by the family of legendary drag racer Joe Amato and is currently the largest distributor of automotive specialty products in the country. More than a corporate "suit," he's a longtime enthusiast and active participant in the industry, including SEMA.
At first glance, there's nothing to suggest Orzetti's Corvette is anything more than a stock '82 model with some wider rear tires. There are no aftermarket wheels, no graphics, and no wild body appendages. But with the twist of the ignition key and the resulting reverbera-tion of a big-block's bellow bouncing off your chest, it's clear this shark has replaced its original teeth with a new, sharper set.
Supplanting the original CFI small-block is a GM Performance Parts ZZ572 crate engine rated at 620 horses. But even that wasn't enough to satisfy Orzetti's yen for power. Rather than sticking with the 572's factory four-barrel induction setup, he installed ACCEL DFI's Thruster Electronic Fuel Injection and 8 Channel CD coil-on-plug ignition system. The engine swap, injection conversion, and subsequent chassis upgrades were performed at Cleveland, Ohio's Corvette Conspiracy, one of 180 ACCEL DFI Engine Management Installation Centers (EMICs) around the country whose technicians are trained in the setup and tuning of the company's injection and electronic control systems.