The family that handles guns together, stays together. As proof, meet Mark and Nida Del Campo. They're a match made in heaven: He's been in the Marine Corps on active duty for 20 years, while she's an ex-Marine now in law enforcement. No surprise, then, that one of their favorite pastimes is hanging out at the shooting range, sharpening their aim. Not exactly the plot of a Harlequin romance, but it works for them.
They have another high-caliber hobby as well: a fully loaded '04 C5. Blacked out in a stealth-mode color scheme, this baby is armed for bear with a blown-and-built 402-cube mill that fires off 750 horses and 707 lb-ft at the rear wheels.
What led them to create such a high-velocity Vette? They already had some history with Corvettes before loading this bad boy into the breech.
"I first had a taste of the Corvette lifestyle when I purchased an '86 C4 back in 2002," Mark recalls. "It was a red coupe, and I enjoyed the times I was able to drive it. But I had more problems with that car than you can imagine, which led me to search for my first C5."
That led to buying a 30,000-mile '01 automatic (which the Campos still have) back in 2004. The '01 has Halltech's Stinger air intake, along with 1 3/4-inch American Racing headers and GHL Bullets out back, all installed by Andy Green at A&A Corvette Performance in Oxnard, California. That ride wasn't just for the street, either.
"We took the '01 out to Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond to participate in our very first road-racing event with Speedventures," he adds. "That was the most thrilling experience we've ever had with the Corvette." But the exhilaration of pulling the trigger on the track left them with a yearning for more.
Initially they considered a Z06. While checking around for a deal on one, "I got a message from Andy of A&A about this newer C5," Mark relates. "I mentioned to Nida that this would be even faster than a Z06, and that we should go and take a look at it."
Originally, the car had a 383 with a ProCharger D-1 head unit, 1 3/4-inch Stainless Works headers, and Borla stingers. But all was not right with the setup.
"Once I heard the car, I said, 'Something needs to change,'" Mark recalls. In other words, a lot more firepower was needed. Prior to picking up the Vette, he asked Green at A&A to swap the 383 for a 402 and add an AIS methanol injection. To keep up with the fueling demands of the bigger mill, Green also installed one of his fuel systems pumping through 75-pound injectors.
As noted in a previous feature on an A&A-built car, Green also employs some tricks to manage airflow. These proprietary mods have the effect of lowering underhood temperatures while also cooling the intake charge to the engine. Speaking of that, the mill runs an LS6 intake with AFR 225 heads, along with the Lingenfelter GT2-3 cam. "Yes, it's a 'baby cam,' as others would say," Mark admits. "But it sure doesn't act like a baby."
Power flows through an FLT Level 5 transmission, which is secured with a Pfadt C5 trans brace. The final stop in the driveline is a Getrag differential stuffed with 3.42 gears. While the overall presentation is all business, Green did install an LG Motorsports hose kit to accent the engine bay.
For rolling stock, the CCW C140s were powdercoated black and wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sports, 275/35/18 fronts and 335/30/18 rears. The rear was tubbed to accommodate the fatter meats. Suspension is managed by a set of Pfadt coilovers, and stopping power comes via a Wilwood big-brake kit. RPM Motors helped out with corner-weighting and final tuning. But even with all these upgrades, Mark still didn't feel he was on target.
"I ran the car with the ProCharger D-1 for a while, but in the quest for more power, I changed the head unit to a Vortech JT-Trim." In addition, the headers were swapped for 1 7/8-inch American Racing units and the Stingers for GHL Bullets. Bottom line is, rather than a silencer, this piece now has a mean-streets muzzle.
Now Mark felt like he was hitting the bull's-eye. "When I first got the car, it was something else," he says. "I had to get used to the ungodly amount of power it was putting out. You can definitely hear the distinct whine from under the hood. It's this sound that makes people either give you the thumbs-up, or that look of, 'What the hell is that?' The best reaction is when you get caught at a stoplight and you start seeing other cars rolling their windows up-that always makes me laugh."
During Mark's quest for more power, Green suggested cutting back on the weapons load. Mark protested, pointing out that he wasn't nearly as power-crazed as some of the shop's other customers. "You lost it a long time ago, my friend," was Green's retort.
Mark's wife Nida doesn't think so, though. In line with the couple's emphasis on the extreme, she's a Rob Zombie fan, which explains her choice of lettering for the vanity plate: DVL REJK (for the Zombie film The Devil's Rejects). "I'm thankful to a wonderful wife who shares the passion of Corvettes and the speed it provides," Mark says. That, and her good aim, too.