For many Corvette lovers, their idea of perfection is a stock Vette, brimming with cutting-edge technology as developed by the Corvette Team (and before it, Chevrolet Engineering).
But for some, a stock Corvette is simply a blank canvas for their ideas and creativity. That includes this C5 Z06, which owner Corry Tsang customized.
This is Tsang's first Corvette, though he's been a lifelong car guy. "I stepped up from the import world," he says. "I could always make a car look great, but it didn't have the power behind it. Or, it was way too expensive, because it was an import."
A look at cars-for-sale listings revealed a 14,000-mile, one-owner '02 Z06. "It had both the looks and the power behind it," Tsang says of the car, which he bought after a testdrive.
Tsang then brainstormed about how to enhance the Z's performance and appearance. But the engine and body weren't the only places he looked.
1 Rear wheels were widened...
1 Rear wheels were widened to 14 inches by Rennen International. Brakes are stock Z06 hardware.
The cabin needed help, in Tsang's view. "I found the interior to be very plain, and not up to par for a sexy sports car," he says. Looking to add a "luxury and wow factor," he called on Lux Motorwerks in Keyport, New Jersey, to recover the stock Z06 interior in Cinder and Lipstick Red suede and black Nappa leather. Lux also installed LED lighting for all the interior controls and replaced the interior plastic pieces with chromed bits from Vette Chrome. Tsang then added a high-end sound system featuring an Eclipse head unit, an Audiobahn six-channel amp, a JL Audio subwoofer, and MB Quart front/rear and Alpine center-channel speakers.
As for the LS6, Tsang had a well-known specialist boost its output well above the factory 405 horsepower. But Cartek, in Garwood, New Jersey, did more than throw parts at it. "[Cartek owner] Julio Hormilla's great tuning skills have brought my car to another level of reliable performance," Tsang says of the shop's work, which included adding a ProCharger D-1SC supercharger and a Cartek Flip Drive system to the LS6. Running at nine pounds of boost, the blown engine makes an impressive 590 rwhp.
But it was a mathematically challenged wheel-widening company that caused the biggest headaches. As Tsang explains, "I contacted a company in California who said they could widen my rear wheels for me. When I got them back, their offset was off by an inch." To make matters worse, that shop soon was out of business. "I tried to contact them, but nobody answered their phone, and their website was down."
Tsang soon found wheel-widening help closer to home, at Rennen International in New York. "I went down there, and they were able to help me out, and everything turned out good," he says of the 19x14-inch Ronal rear wheels, which wear massive Pirelli P-Zero 355s. (For comparison's sake, a stock ZR1 wears 335mm Michelins.)
2 How do you improve on excellence?...
2 How do you improve on excellence? Add a ProCharger D-1SC supercharger and a Cartek Flip-Drive system--items that bumped this LS6's output to 590 rwhp.
3 Accenting the hood's Torch...
3 Accenting the hood's Torch Red finish are these unpainted portions, which let the carbon-fiber construction show through.
4 Thanks to a set of Lewis...
4 Thanks to a set of Lewis Five Motorsports flared rear quarters, the steamroller-size Ronals fit the stock wheelwells without tubbing.
As for the body, there's not much of the original one left now that Tsang has added a VIS carbon-fiber heat-extractor hood; Lewis Five Motorsports front fender flares, rear quarters and carbon-fiber splash guards; RK Sport front canards and side skirts; an ACI rear spoiler; and JW Motoring's LED lighting products. Alliance Auto Body in Mine Hill, New Jersey, made the body-panel swaps look as smooth as a factory install, then coated it all in two-stage DuPont Torch Red paint. (The lone exception is the hood, which D.A.S. in Hackettstown, New Jersey, color matched while leaving some carbon accents showing). Lux Motorwerks also installed the hinges for the GT Factory vertical doors.
Once complete, Tsang's '02 Z06 was much more of an eye-catcher than it had been previously. "The car has an aggressive stance--it turns heads everywhere I drive," he says. "It's definitely an attention-getter."
Its performance is an attention-getter too. "Five-hundred ninety rear-wheel horsepower will snap your head back, and you'll be over 100 mph before you know it," Tsang says. "And with the lowered stock Z06 suspension, I've achieved the look I wanted while still retaining driveability. That's what I was aiming for."
If you're aiming for a Vette with performance and style beyond what's stock, Tsang has some sound advice, especially when it comes to selecting shops to do the work you can't do yourself. "Find as many reputable local sources as you can--ones that will work closely with you to achieve your goals and not just theirs," he says. "Be prepared to spend triple the amount that you'll ever dream of budgeting to begin with." Do that, and you just might end up with a Corvette as powerfully customized as this one.
5 Inside, the stock Z06 buckets...
5 Inside, the stock Z06 buckets wear suede and Nappa leather. Red LED lighting further underscores the contrasting color scheme.
6 Suede-swathed dash contains...
6 Suede-swathed dash contains a sound/navigation/DVD system with an Eclipse head unit.
7 What's a tuner car without...
7 What's a tuner car without tunes? Trunk-mounted Audiobahn amp helps bring the noise.
||Corry Tsang; Rockaway, New Jersey
||Stock LS6 aluminum
||Stock LS6 aluminum
||Stock hollow 2.00 (intake)/1.55 sodium-filled (exhaust)
||Stock hydraulic roller
||Stock hypereutectic aluminum
||Stock nodular iron
||Stock powdered-metal steel
||ProCharger D-1SC supercharger with front-mounted intercooler and Cartek Flip Drive system
||American Racing 1-3/4-in headers and high-flow cats, Borla Cat-Back exhaust
||Stock T56 six-speed manual
||Stock with 3.42 gears
||Stock with 12.6-in front and 11.8-in rear rotors
||Ronal LZ-VT aluminum, modified by Rennen International; 18x9 (front), 19x14 (rear)
||Bridgestone Potenza 275/35R18 (front), Pirelli P-Zero Rosso 355/25R19 (rear)