Continuous Improvement

Scott Koeppel derives maximum enjoyment from his C7 by regularly tweaking its performance and appearance

Continuous Improvement 1
December 8, 2017

New Yorker Scott Koeppel grew up in a typical suburban community during a time when most youths approaching the magic age of 17 became obsessed with getting a license and, even more important, a car. Of course, most people’s obsession with cars wanes over time, as school, marriage, children, a career and lots of other important things take precedence. Not so with Koeppel, who has had a wide array of cool automobiles for nearly 40 years straight, beginning with his first Corvette in 1979.

“I bought the ’79 new,” he recalls. “It was a very nice shade of blue, and I got it loaded with good options, including the L82 engine and gymkhana suspension, which had a larger front sway bar and stiffer springs.” Koeppel enjoyed his first Corvette in its stock configuration for a very short time and then went to town modifying it. “I installed a lot of custom body parts that I bought from Eckler’s Corvette and then had it painted Admiral Blue Metallic, which was gorgeous. The engine in that car was reworked, and the transmission was beefed up to handle the…extra power.”

Koeppel readily admits that he’s something of an impetuous buyer when it comes to cars and trucks that get his attention. “If I go somewhere, or I’m driving along and I see something I like, that’s it, I buy it on the spot.” A few years after acquiring the ’79 Corvette he crossed paths with an ’83 Porsche 911 Targa and had to have it. A decade later he was cruising past a Chevrolet dealership on Route 17 in New Jersey and spied a ’93 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck sporting a very rare Indy 500 Official Truck option package, seductively perched on a ramp for passersby to see.

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“It was super cool and very unusual. I didn’t know it then, but later learned that they made only 1,534 of [them]. I couldn’t stop immediately because I had an appointment I needed to get to, but on the way back I bought it.” As with just about every vehicle in the Koeppel garage, the Indy 500 Pace truck didn’t remain stock for very long, ultimately receiving modifications that included a Vortech supercharger.

A new ’02 Corvette followed the Indy truck, and shortly after that the automotive-ly omnivorous Koeppel bought a Mercedes convertible and then a Porsche 911 Turbo. The German cars held his interest for a few years, but then a chance encounter with a sixth-generation Corvette brought him back into the Chevy fold. A friend’s brother was leasing a C6 and couldn’t continue with the payments, so Koeppel took over the lease. He was so happy with the car’s performance that he bought a new C6 when the lease ended.

But of course it wasn’t an ordinary C6, and naturally, Koeppel had an uncontrollable urge to dig right in and enhance its performance. He bought a ’12 model with the Centennial Edition option package and shipped it off to Corvettes of Westchester for engine upgrades, then turned to Caravaggio Corvettes for a new interior and APSIS USA for various carbon-fiber parts.

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Shortly after completing all of the modifications to his Centennial Edition C6, Koeppel got his first look at the coming C7 and fell instantly in love. “I simply had to have one, but I really wanted a Z06, which wasn’t available during the first year of production, so I planned to wait. Then, a salesman at Chevrolet of Smithtown I am friendly with called me and said they had a Laguna Blue Z51 that he thought I’d really like.”

The salesman knew Koeppel well and thought if he saw the car in the flesh he wouldn’t be able to resist it, and of course he was right. The famously impulsive car collector looked at the gleaming, new coupe for fewer than 60 seconds before buying it. Then, he drove it around for all of two days before dropping it off at Corvettes of Westchester (NY) for various performance enhancements. Chief among them was the installation of an Edelbrock E-Force supercharger.

The E-Force system is built around an Eaton 2300 TVS rotor assembly and, unlike some aftermarket units, includes an intake manifold that allows for retention of the C7’s stock hood. After Corvettes of Westchester completed the installation, Koeppel took the car back to the dealership to have the Corvette specialist there install a methanol-injection system. As its name suggests, this setup injects a finely atomized mist of water and methanol into the engine’s cylinder charge. This helps cool the charge, an effect that has the dual benefit of increasing power output and reducing the likelihood of piston-destroying detonation.

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In addition to installing the methanol setup, Chevrolet of Smithtown—apparently the least uptight Chevy dealership in existence—retuned the electronic controllers for the engine and transmission to take full advantage of the car’s new performance capabilities. When the process was completed, the supercharged, 6.2-liter LT1 made 709 horsepower at the rear wheels, up substantially from the stock engine’s already stout 455 (crank) horsepower.

To increase high-speed stability as well as improve the car’s stance, Koeppel decided to drop it approximately 1.5 inches using Pfadt suspension components. “That puts the car low enough to make a clear difference in the way that it looks,” he explains, “but at the same time it still has enough ground clearance to handle steep driveway aprons and speed bumps, so I don’t have to worry about it scraping during everyday use.”

Koeppel enjoys all of the engine’s added power from the comfort of a cockpit that’s been enhanced with an array of APSIS USA carbon-fiber trim pieces in place of the stock plastic parts. He also tapped APSIS for a new shifter boot and knob, a center-console door that features an embroidered stingray in its leather and a leather driver-side airbag cover.

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To dress up the exterior of his Corvette, Koeppel sourced a new set of bespoke, forged aluminum rims from German company Loma. The outer portion of each two-piece rim, as well as the bolts that hold it to the center section, is painted blue to match the body. Part of the wheels’ center caps and the car’s brake calipers are also painted Laguna Blue.

The very front of the car has been noticeably altered, with a Forgiato grille replacing the stock Chevrolet piece and new side mirrors from Show Stopper Accessories standing in for the original side mirrors. Called “Stingray LED turn-signal side mirrors,” these units feature a Stingray logo that’s niftily illuminated by light-emitting diodes. The only other exterior modification done was installation of an ORACLE Automotive Lighting Products daytime-running-light ColorShift kit. This ORACLE setup, which includes two replacement circuit boards, a control box and a wireless remote control, enables the user to produce hundreds of different colors as well as dozens of different patterns using the factory DRLs.

Koeppel loves his C7, pointing to its exterior design and overall stance as his favorite features. Though he is extremely happy with the car as it sits, it should come as no surprise that he intends to continue tweaking it. “The more you talk to me,” he explains, “the more you realize that I’m not normal when it comes to my cars. I’m constantly thinking about how I can make something better. [T]he next thing I’m going to do is…have new seat covers made with blue stripes right up the middle. I’m also going to have them put together with matching blue stitching, and will carry that stitching into the rest of the leather trim throughout the interior.”

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As with all of Koeppel’s cars, personalizing this Corvette has been a big part of the enjoyment he gets from it. He also takes pleasure in driving it, though somewhat surprisingly given the car’s performance modifications, he’s not really a speed demon. “I’ve had it up to 155 mph,” he admits, “but generally speaking, I’m not into racing it or going super-fast. I appreciate what it’s capable of, but I don’t need to drive it very fast to have fun with it. Making changes to enhance it, [and] just owning it and sharing it with my son, who is crazy about all of my cars, is what gives me the most enjoyment.”

Also from Issue 119

  • 600K-Mile C2 Convertible
  • 35th Special Edition C4
  • History: The C1 Goes Racing
  • "First Design" '56 Roadster
  • Buyer's Guide: Z-Cars
  • Corvette-Powered '68 Manta
  • LS Engine History
  • Racing: '17 Season Recap
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