Asked about the inspiration for all this custom underhood work, Chuckexplains, "While building the C5, I went to a car show and saw a carthat had its hood up. Under it was the most beautiful thing I'd everseen. It had polished stainless covering 100 percent of the enginecompartment. It looked like jewelry. I didn't want to be outdone, so Igot some jewelry of my own. Now, if I can just figure out how to drivethis baby with the hood up, I will be completely satisfied."
Unitrax Drivetrain of Anaheim, California, provided the Vette'sheavy-duty left output shaft--a necessary upgrade for any high-powered C5that sees regular drag-strip duty. "We were honored that Mr. Bradleyselected our 300M left output shaft for his car," says companyspokesperson Devin King. "We appreciate the confidence Mr. Bradley hasplaced in our product and are confident the output shaft will exceed hisexpectations."
Texas Nitrous Technology sponsored the Vette's rear-hatch-mounted,twin-tank nitrous system, which helps push the car's rear-wheel outputto an estimated 650 horses. (Final tuning had not been completed at thetime of our story.) To give the system the visual punch to back up itshorsepower-enhancing might, Chuck had Armando's Murals of Thonotosassa,Florida, airbrush two sinister-looking court jesters, one on each of thealuminum nitrous bottles.
One thing Chuck didn't count on was the sheer aural ferocity of theExtreme Sound- sponsored custom stereo. Apparently, the 2,000-wattRockford Fosgate system with Eclipse GPS makes quite a stir around town.Chuck says his goal was to make sure his cruising music was totallyuninterrupted, and he feels he's accomplished that goal just a littletoo well. Indeed, Chuck has begun the task of reading lips so he won'thave to turn the stereo down.
Predictably, his early efforts have been somewhat uneven. For example,Chuck tells us he recently saw a beautiful woman at a McDonald's. Aftergiving her a wink and a smile, he lip-read her response: "The car is badass." Chuck was feeling pretty good about himself until his son told himthe woman was really saying, "You have a fat [expletive deleted]." Sincethen, Chuck has decided to either turn his stereo down or get better atreading lips.
What does Chuck like best about his custom C5? It's got to be what hecalls the "camera-phone reaction." Chuck tells us, "It's so freaky.Everybody takes out their camera phones and starts taking photos. I took[the car] to the NCRS Corvette Regionals in Kissimmee, Florida. Therewere more pictures taken of my C5 than any other car, and my car wasn'teven in the show. I play a game. I act like they're paparazzi, and I'mTom Cruise. Well, Tom Cruise without the hair and smile and good looks.I can't have it all, I guess."
While his Vette is packed with outrageous custom touches, Chuckprofesses to value the balance of the overall presentation more than anysingle feature. "I didn't want any one styling element to overpoweranother," he explains, "I wanted the car to be uniformly good-looking. Iwanted to be able to look at it from every angle and say, 'Yes...nice.'"
With everything declared on Chuck Bradley's custom C5, he now shows thecar regularly at national and regional Corvette events--as well as on thehighways and byways of Central Florida. If you should happen to seeChuck and his Vette cruising past, be sure to get out your camera phoneand snap a photo or two. It's what everybody does, after all, and Chuckwouldn't have it any other way. Model: Nina Bedolla
Car: '98 convertible
Owner: Chuck Bradley
Block: Stock LS1, bored .005" over
Displacement: 347 ci
Compression Ratio: 9:1
Heads: Stage 5 L92, ported and polished by CNC Heads
Valves: Manley steel, 2.02"/1.60"
Camshaft: Custom forced-induction grind; 224-/228-deg. duration, .582/.588" lift, 114-degree LSA
Rocker Arms: Stock
Pistons: Diamond forged
Crankshaft: Callies forged
Rods: Callies forged
Intake Manifold: LS6
Throttle Body: Stock
Fuel Injectors: Ford Motorsports 42-lb/hr
Fuel Pump: Walbro 255 lph, Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump
Engine Management: Stock ECU with Rev Xtreme custom tuning
Power Adders: ProCharger D-1SC, Texas Nitrous Technology (TNT) progressive wet kit
Maximum Boost: 10 psi
Intercooler: Twin ProCharger air-to-air inter coolers
Exhaust System: 1 7/8" Kooks long-tube headers, Random Tech high-flow cats, Borla Stinger mufflers
Transmission: 4L60E, built by Mad Dog Transmissions
Torque Converter: TCI, 3500-rpm stall speed
Driveshaft: Stock torque tube
Front Suspension: Stock
Rear Suspension: Stock
Rear End: 3.42 with hardened Unitrax left output shaft
Front Brakes: Stock discs
Rear Brakes: Stock discs
Wheels: HRE Performance Wheels; 18x9.5 (front), 18x11 (rear)
Front Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport, 265/35 ZR-18
Rear Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport, 315/30 R-18
Fuel Octane: 93
Best ET/MPH: TBD
Best 60-ft. Time: TBD
Current Mileage: 59,000
Miles Driven Weekly: Approximately 75