Corvettes have always made great dual purpose “street and race” hot rods. Today it is easier than ever to build a street-legal Corvette that can compete on the weekends. This particular example took almost 50 years to get modified. Mike’s father bought it in stock form as his dream car. It started life as a real 427 4-speed red coupe with a mostly original black interior. The original big block engine was long gone. These days, nonoriginal big block Corvettes are typically upgraded to 427/435 replicas for profit. Mike, an admitted nonpurist, had other plans. After spending 20 years in the family, the little red Corvette was transformed into a highly capable pro-touring car.
The original frame is upgraded with 100% bolt on RideTech parts. In fact, Mike was the very first RideTech customer to receive production Corvette parts. At the time, the Corvette suspension line was so new that we literally removed the sway bars from our R&D car to complete Mike’s system in time for an upcoming LSFest. Though production sway bars have long since been in stock, Mike decided to keep the prototypes.
The suspension system consists of our tubular StrongArm control arms, rear StrongArm system, TruTurn Steering system and front/rear Musclebars. Mike runs our “tall drop” steel spindles up front. A Van Steel Corvette center section accepts power at the other end. When the chassis was first upgraded, Mike ran a set of RideTech single adjustable HQ Series coilovers. He has since upgraded to RideTech triple adjustable TQ Series coilovers.
Like the prototype sway bars, the coilovers have a story to tell as Mike and the RideTech crew swapped them out at an event. That’s the nice thing about choosing RideTech parts. We are right there running with you at Goodguys, USCA, LSFest and others. When not behind the wheel, Bret and Smitty, as well as hard-driving staff including Tom McBride and Britt Marolf offer tuning support. The guidance is particularly useful for TQ Series shocks, as the triple adjustable feature might seem intimidating. Camaraderie makes it all worthwhile – there is always time to hang out between runs and after hours. Mike can really drive, so the TQ shock upgrade suits is skill level.
To make the most of the chassis, Mike fitted extra wide 18×11 US Mag wheels mounted within BF Goodrich G-Force Rival S 315-30/18 tires. To make room for those big tires, Mike took drastic measures by cutting the fenders and quarters and mounting a set of Corvette Pacifica flares. Always the pragmatist, Mike chose not to do any bodywork or paint the flares to simplify replacement in the event of a mishap. He likes the raw, muscular look, as well.
The rest of the car is equally practical. A 525HP LS3 lives under the hood. With the exception of swapping the oil pan and adding a Vintage Air Frontrunner, the crate engine practically installed itself. A Legend LGT700 5-speed overdrive transmission lives behind the LS3. The combination propelled Mike and his Corvette to an 11.40 second ET at LSFest. Wilwood 12.8” brakes help to slow the car, while a Turn One 10:1 Borgeson steering box makes it turn. Details include a Dakota Digital dash, DSE wiper motor and headlights and a Rick’s Tanks Vaporworx system.
Asked what he thinks of his Corvette, Mike commented: “It’s my little go-cart. It’s super reliable and fun.” He praises the grip at the track and enjoys the tame ride quality while driving the car on the street. We like the fact that Mike’s “go-cart” is an honest, bolt-together combination that anyone can duplicate. The C2/C3 platform lends itself nicely to upgrades without sacrificing street manners in the name of grip.
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