Manhattan Transfer

To wean his twin-turbo 863-horsepower C5 Corvette off expensive racing fuel, this owner had to come up with a novel solution.

September 9, 2011
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Adam Brandt bought a low-option, bank-repossessed 1997 coupe in 2001 to use as a daily driver. At the time, he already had a heavily option 2000 convertible and wanted to limit its use, so the inexpensive ’97 coupe was a logical purchase. Brandt did use the coupe for its original purpose for several years, but as something of an incurable performance hound with a history of never leaving well enough alone, he couldn’t resist the urge to make some changes to the car—OK, a lot of changes.

After seven years of service, the original black paint was tired, so in 2004 Brandt turned the car over to Glen and Ron Weller at Hudson Valley Collision in Newburgh, New York. They completely disassembled the body, fitted an ACI rear spoiler and hood, and shot the car with a striking shade of Custom House of Kolor-supplied orange called Tangelo Pearl. The attention-grabbing exterior was complemented by some interior changes, including the installation of Corbeau A4 seats in place of the stock ones. For safety’s sake, Brandt added Corbeau Racing five-point harnesses for both driver and passenger, as well as a Doug Rippie roll bar.

As it turns out, Brandt was only getting started. In 2007, the original engine was pulled and a new 347-cid powerplant built up by Julio Hormillia from Cartek Racing was installed. Based around an LS6 block, the new mill featured a Callies forged crankshaft, Manley 4340 lightweight I-beam connecting rods and Diamond forged pistons. The forged short block was topped off with Cartek 3X cylinder heads stuffed full of super-strong parts, including Manley intake and Iconel exhaust valves, and Harland Sharpe-modified stock 1.7:1 rocker arms. An otherwise stock LS6 intake was ported for increased air flow efficiency and Kooks headers were mated to 3-inch pipes to exhaust the spent gases. Valve actuation came by way of a Comp Cams 232/240 grind designed specifically for forced-induction LS engines. That was needed because Brandt elected to turbocharge the new engine with an Air Power Systems (APS) twin-turbo setup.

At the same time the new engine went in, the car’s original automatic transmission was yanked out in favor of a six-speed manual gearbox. The new transmission, sourced from RPM Transmissions, is a Level V T-56 built with stronger-than-stock parts to reliably stand up to more than double the power output of a stock C5 engine. The transmission’s C6 Z06 30-spline front shaft mates with a dual-disc carbon clutch assembly up front and connects out the back to a custom driveshaft from The Driveshaft Shop.

In an effort to maintain a balance between power output and roadholding ability, Brandt devoted a good measure of his attention to the car’s chassis. The stock suspension was given its walking papers and adjustable Feather Light Generation coil-overs from Pfadt Race Engineering were installed. The bodies for these are crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, making them relatively light. Even more important, they use a very clever inverted design that places the bulk of their mass on the sprung side of the chassis. This yields faster suspension response and that increases contact between tires and road—the goal of all suspension upgrades. Pfadt Pfatty sway bars complement the coil-overs, while cross-drilled rotors and stainless lines upgrade the brake system.

The engine’s spin goes to CCW SP16A wheels measuring 19 inches in diameter and wearing Nitto Invo 305/30ZR19 tires. Up front, matching CCW wheels are shod with 275/30RZ19 Nitto Invos. The wheels start off as forged billets of 6061-T6 aluminum that get CNC machined into a one-piece design that’s exceedingly strong in addition to being beautiful.

Also from Issue 69

  • 1966 Big Block
  • Hennessey Grand Sport
  • Best $8K Buys
  • 1994 Brickyard Special
  • How-To: C3 Rust Repair
  • 1960 Restomod
  • 1968 L89 Big Block
  • Bloomington Gold
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