One big upgrade is the custom audio/video system in the '99's trunk. "I'd been to many shows with that and never turned it on," Baker says. "Then, in 2010, I went to the car show in Ocean City, Maryland, and met up with some Marine recruiters there. They all asked me the same question: 'Why don't you have your system on?' I said that I didn't have anything for the Marine Corps that I felt was honorable enough to play on the system. They gave me a recruiting tape of all the Marine Corps TV commercials, and that's what I play on there now. When I go out, I do the recruiting side for them, and I play the commercials on the system, and it's wonderful."

Are you inspired by this C5? Baker says if you're planning to upgrade a Corvette of your own, don't rush the project. (He didn't rush this one: What you see here took about five years to do). "Take your time and choose the things that you want on your Vette to go along with your personality, and have it mean something," he says. "Buy quality, and it will definitely make a change in your Corvette and how you present it. The year of the car doesn't really matter--it's how you put it together."

How Baker put his '99 Corvette together is not only a tribute to him and to America's Only True Sports car, but to all United States Marines--especially those whose sacrifice is symbolized by the car's sanguineous color.

Spec Sheet: '99 Convertible
Owner Reginald Baker; Upper Marlboro, MD
Block Stock LS1 aluminum
Displacement 346 ci
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Heads Stock LS1 aluminum
Valves Stock 2.00/1.55
Camshaft Stock hydraulic roller
Rocker Arms Stock 1.7 ratio
Pistons Stock hypereutectic
Crankshaft Stock nodular iron
Rods Stock powdered-metal steel
Intake Manifold Stock LS1 composite
Fuel Injectors Stock LS1
Fuel Pump Stock
Ignition Stock coil-on-plug
Exhaust System SLP "Loud Mouth" stainless steel
Transmission Stock 4L60E automatic
Torque Converter Stock
Driveshaft Stock
Suspension Stock
Rearend Stock with 3.15 gears
Brakes Stock four-wheel discs
Wheels Forgiato Vizzio; 20x9.5-in front, 22x13-in rear
Tires Nitto Extreme ZR 245/30ZR20 (front), Pirelli Scorpion Zero 335/25ZR20 (rear)
Fuel Octane 97
Weight 3,445 lbs with driver
Current Mileage 56,000
Miles Driven Daily 30 (except in winter)