Subject the C7 Z06 to a strict, by-the-numbers appraisal, and it comes out looking nigh invincible. Indeed, all of the pertinent figures—650 (horsepower), 2.95 (seconds to 60 mph with the eight-speed automatic transmission), 10.95 at 127 (time and speed in the quarter-mile), 1.2 (lateral acceleration in g) and 99.6 (braking distance from 60 mph in feet)—place the Corvette flagship at or near the top of the ultra-high-performance sports-car segment in which it competes. And while it would strain credulity to characterize the race-bred Z06 as a sensible choice for daily commuting, the fact is that the car’s base price of $79,450 represents something of a bargain given the sheer amount of tachycardia-inducing vehicular awesomeness it brings.
Of course, these impressive numbers are all academic if, like Peter Berterello, you’re one of the roughly 37,000 early adopters who popped for a base Stingray in 2014, when it was the only seventh-generation Corvette on offer. In this scenario, elevating one’s ownership experience to Z06 standards requires a choice: trade up for the new top-dog model and eat a double-stacked depreciation sandwich, or build a Corvette supercar yourself, using the excellent Stingray as a foundation. Berterello chose the latter path, and the resulting car forms the basis of our story.
As is often the case with comprehensively tweaked automobiles, this drastic makeover wasn’t always in Berterello’s plan. Rather, like many Corvette enthusiasts, he was simply taken with the new Stingray’s angular looks and electrifying speed, and it was these factors that in May 2014 convinced him to trade in his own Vette for the latest edition. At least initially, the process proved more challenging than Berterello expected.
“First I went to [a Tampa-area Chevy dealership], but they didn’t have any C7s in stock, and said that they were very hard to get,” he says. Then things got weird. “The salesman actually told me I might not be able to afford one. I guess he didn’t like the look of my pickup truck.” On the recommendation of a friend, Berterello (and his pickup truck) next visited Stingray Chevrolet, a Plant City, Florida dealership known for carrying a large and varied stock of new and late-model used Corvettes. Happily, events at Stingray unfolded much differently.
“They had five [2014s] on the floor, and four that had come in that day and were being prepped,” he says. But despite having located a veritable Golconda of Corvette goodness, Berterello found that none of the nine cars—yes, he drove all of them—“rocked my world,” as he puts it. Fortunately, the Stingray crew had one more C7 in stock for him to sample—if only they could locate it. After a lot-wide search, the Blade Silver automatic convertible finally turned up on a rack in the rear of the service area, where it was receiving its final presale inspection and preparations. Berterello, who also owned a yellow 2000 droptop at the time, was immediately smitten by the body style and color combination, which we can only assume elicited the desired quantum of world-rocking. He was ready to make a deal, but first he had a short list of conditions for the salesman.
“I told him I would take it, but we needed to do a few things,” Berterello recounts. “I just wanted the mirrors, spoiler and hood stripe painted Carbon Flash Metallic.” He also wanted it done soon, before he took delivery of the car. Despite some initial reluctance, the salesman eventually agreed, and to its credit the Stingray paint shop completed the custom paintwork in just under two days. (“Funny how things get done when they want to close a deal,” notes Berterello wryly.)
As for the yellow 2000, it ended up staying in the family, thanks to another impressive feat of customer service on the part of Stingray. Shortly after receiving a trade-in value of $16,000 on the C5, Berterello began to regret not selling it to his son, who’d expressed an interest in purchasing the car. He contacted his salesman, and the two worked out a second deal by which the younger Berterello was allowed to buy back the C5 for that same $16K sum plus transfer fees. This is especially remarkable considering that the dealership had already received a cash offer of $20K from another prospective buyer. “I cannot say enough about the people at Stingray,” says Berterello. “They really took care of me.”