Standing in stark contrast to both extremes is Caravaggio Corvettes, tucked away in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. Headed up by John Caravaggio, the firm is a mixture of design studio, performance shop, and upscale custom paint and upholstery facility-in other words, very much akin to Alpina or to AMG before it became part of Daimler Benz. A great deal of what John C. and his merry band of tricksters do is to expand or extend the vision of the Corvette's designers, to build limited production models that go to a level beyond the factory offerings while still remaining true to the original concept. And when you consider that Caravaggio works very closely with John Cafaro (the C5's chief designer) and Henry Iovino's Skunk Werkes (see "Covert Operations" in the Sept. '01 issue for Henry's C5 Speedster), there should be little doubt to the validity of his methods. John Caravaggio describes what his shop does as providing, "...originality, quality, and refinement for Corvette owners who wish to individualize and improve their automobiles with the result of added luxury, style, and power."
The first example of John Caravaggio's handiwork we saw was Iovino's Speedster, at the 1999 SEMA Show, where it graced the HRE Performance Wheels exhibit. The following April, at the C5 Birthday Bash, we examined the Caravaggio/Skunk Werkes SR5 (see "Stinking Good Fun," also in the Sept. '01 issue), met John for the first time, and had a chance to talk about his car building philosophy. Suffice it to say that his claim of "...originality, quality, and refinement..." is not some PR flack's usual puffery.
So when Caravaggio teased us earlier this year about building Z06 Targas and convertibles, constructed from factory-issue Z06s and not standard C5s with Z06/LS6 components grafted on, we were very interested. Shortly thereafter, we hear from him and the message is to the effect of, "I'm gonna build some Z06 Grand Sports, whadayah think?" I know I wanna see that!
The two Corvettes you see on these pages are genuine Bowling Green-built '01 Z06s. The VINs verified that-the sixth digit of the VIN is 1, the code for a fixed roof coupe body and the eighth digit is S which is the engine code for the LS6-an LS1 would be code G. Both cars fit Caravaggio's mission statement about building limited production models that go to levels beyond the factory offerings yet remain true to the original concept. And the quality, as we expected, is utterly impeccable.
First, the Z06 LM Targa. John's vision here was partially inspired by the Daytona and Le Mans-winning '01 C5-Rs, hence the blacked out rear bumper. The roof conversion makes use of as many OEM components as possible, artfully and skillfully integrated into a body that was never designed for them. A lot of work goes into converting the fixed or solid panel into one with a removable section. The other changes to the exterior are subtle-small "splitters" on the rocker panels, black powder-coated Z06 wheels with machined outer lips, and LM badging. The interior modifications are more immediately noticeable. The seats feature additional bolstering, custom openings for the shoulder straps and anti-submarine belt (referred to by some racers as a soprano strap) that are parts of the LM-logo'd five-point harness system, and color-keyed Z06 embroidery on the custom leather and suede upholstery. There's also a leather-covered four-point rollbar, plus custom leather and/or suede on the steering wheel, the parking brake and shift knob and their boots, suede door pulls, and color-keyed (to the exterior) stitching throughout. Air induction and exhaust enhancements boost the power from 385 to 420 horsepower.