Green Machine

With a 599-horsepower supercharged engine and a retina-searing paint job, this is not your average Grand Sport.

January 25, 2013

Also from Issue 80

  • 1970 LT1 Convertible
  • Buyer’s Guide: C3
  • Grand Sport Roadster Replica
  • Dick Thompson
  • Tech: C6 Targa Top
  • History of Corvette Aerodynamics
  • Split-Window Funny Car
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Cornfields hurtle by as Rollie Purifoy puts his dealership’s Synergy Green Corvette through its paces. With over five decades of operation, Purifoy Chevrolet isn’t your everyday dealership, and this machine is no ordinary Corvette. “Over the years it has become commonplace for us to build special, one-off Vettes just so we can have that recognition of having things that other dealers don’t,” says Purifoy, as he guides the car right then left through a chicane, of which there are plenty on the backroads north of Denver, Colorado.

“Getting into the Corvette business was something that my father and I did not agree on,” says Purifoy. “He told me that selling Corvettes in Fort Lupton would never work at all. Well, I decided different and put my best efforts towards being one of the best Corvette dealers in Colorado.”

As we blast through the Northern Colorado countryside, I notice that the numerals on the head-up display are much higher than the posted speed limit, but since Purifoy was a helicopter gunner in Vietnam, I figure he can handle the distraction of fielding questions while driving, so I ask him to tell me more about his father, whose name was also Rollie, and the founding of the Chevrolet dealership.

“My father left his home in Mobile, Alabama in 1929, after his father was killed in a dam accident in Tipton, Missouri,” says Purifoy. “He sustained serious injuries in World War II before returning home to start a rental car company called the U-Drive-It system. He later found and bought the dealership in Fort Lupton.”

Approaching a tight corner, Purifoy applies the brakes and downshifts into second, then quickly gets back on the gas; the supercharged LS3 V8 instantaneously catapults us back up to warp speed. With the unblinking concentration of someone accustomed to laying down cover fire for fellow soldiers in battle, Purifoy keeps his eyes on the road as he tells me more about his father.

“My Dad was a hard-driving, very honest, very ethical man. He truly was a jack-of-all-trades and a master body man. He also was a 32nd-degree Mason. As far as his connections at GM went, the ones that he had were ones that he earned by being an honest man. He was liked and respected by all that knew him. To this day, the largest funeral I have ever attended was my father’s—it says a lot about a person.”

A moment of silence fills the Grand Sport’s cabin and I sort of feel like the spirit of Rollie the elder may be embedded somewhere in this custom Corvette. We pull over to the side of the road to take a break. The tic-tic sound of the oil draining into the sump and the cry of a raven in the distance seem to be the only sounds to be hear in this dramatic countryside. We stretch our legs and walk around the vehicle. Draped in its verdant hue and accessorized with carbon-fiber aero bits—front splitter, rocker-panel extensions and rear spoiler—it is truly a mesmerizing piece of machinery. The silence is broken by Purifoy. “I wanted to build this as soon as I saw the first Synergy Green Camaro roll off the transport,” he says. “Well, you want to drive it?”

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