Three Days in the D

Also from Issue 76

  • 1967 Restomod
  • C5 Buyer's Guide
  • 1957 Convertible Restoration
  • 2004 C1 Conversion
  • Tech: MSRC Shocks
  • 1973 Manta Ray GT
  • Racing: Le Mans
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The 427 Convertible’s suspension, including the calibration of the standard MSRC shocks, sway bars and leaf springs, differs from the Z06. The unique calibrations take into account the structural differences of its steel-chassis/convertible configuration versus the stiffer aluminum-chassis/coupe configuration of the Z06—as well as the wider ZR1 tires. The end result is a suspension tune that falls somewhere between the Grand Sport and Z06 in terms of firmness and response.

It would also be logical to ask why Chevrolet didn’t simply toss the convertible body on the Z06 chassis. This simply wasn’t feasible because the alloy frame wasn’t designed for a convertible body and would have required structurally debilitating surgery to the roof section. Beyond that, the Z06’s aluminum frame is a whole lot more expensive than the Grand Sport’s steel one, which would have pushed the price of the 427 Convertible beyond the target range.

Using the steel chassis and achieving a weight balance as close to 50/50 as possible required the use of lightweight carbon-fiber body panels, including the Z06’s front clip and adding its optional carbon-fiber hood as standard equipment. It wasn’t an inexpensive proposition for the Corvette team when they made their case for the 427 Convertible, but the payoff was worth the effort.

Even the placement of the battery required some re-engineering. In the Z06, the battery is located in the cargo area, while the oil tank resides in the underhood battery location for LS3-powered cars. The issue with moving the battery to the trunk of the convertible is the power cable’s routing; the Z06’s would interfere with the folding-top mechanism. Engineers routed a new cable up and out of the way, but the solution exemplified how even seemingly simple things turn into complex challenges when it comes to developing production vehicles.

Engineers worked approximately 18 months to make the 427 Convertible more than merely the sum of its parts, and they delivered something that stands alone as a unique model with a driving experience unlike anything other model in the Corvette lineup.

Friday: 4:30 p.m.

After a few hours in the car, the genius of combining the LS7 engine with the convertible body and MSRC shock absorbers was very apparent. In fact, it might just be the most brilliant amalgamation since cookie dough met ice cream.

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