A modified Corvette in
Australia is about as rare as rocking horse droppings. Sure, some people might
take the plunge to import a ‘Vette outa the ‘States and get it converted to
right-hand-drive - but that’s about as far as they go. Merely owning a Corvette
in Australia is enough to satisfy most people.
But not Tim McCarthy of
Tim is a
through-and-through Corvette lover. While most people sit back and brag about
having one ‘Vette in the driveway, Tim has no less than three – yep, three!
There’s a restored ’61 (a real thing of beauty), a ’98 show car and this – a
built-for-speed 1989 C4.
Interestingly, this ’89 C4
was imported to Australia before it was registered in the US – the previous
owner bought it brand-spankers and had it shipped out straight away. Upon
arrival, the car was converted to right-hand-drive, registered and driven fairly
sedately for the next four years.
That’s where Tim enters the
Tim purchased the
stock-standard ‘Vette and, after hearing about how fast a mate’s Aston Martin
was supposed to be, he couldn’t help but give it some mechanical tweaks.
“I didn’t want to lose to
some Aston Martin – I had to prepare for a fight,” says Tim.
The first mods – performed
by Corvette Automotive - are pretty run-of-the-mill if you’re a ‘Vette-aholic.
The air intake was opened up with a TPIC intake snorkel, a Lingenfelter SuperRam
intake manifold with dual 58mm throttles was fitted, the heads were slightly ported and
port-matched and a mild camshaft was slipped in. Custom HPC’d 1 ¾ inch
extractors scavenge the combustion chambers and blow into a twin 2 ½ inch
mandrel system. The auto trannie was also treated to a shift kit and 2800 rpm
Dominator stall converter.
These mods slashed the C4’s
quarter mile time from around 14.1 seconds (standard) to a proven 12.7 at 107
mph. This was achieved with the help of a pair of BF Goodrich Drag TA rubbers.
But how did the ‘Vette fare
against the big British beast?
Well, it’s fair to say the
Aston Martin was absolutely dismembered.
“It didn’t know which way
I went,” says Tim.
It was a case of ‘mission
accomplished’. But Tim decided to go even faster!
Since then, the car has
been progressively enhanced with an ECU chip, Crower roller rockers, a 219
Lingenfelter hydraulic roller cam, Griffith aluminium radiator and a Dana 44
diff spinning a shorter-than-standard 3.33:1 centre.
After these mods, Tim could
either go for a wilder cam, supercharger or capacity increase. Tim wasn’t too
keen on simply stuffing boost into the 350’s belly or losing drivability so he
opted for a thorough engine rebuild to 383ci.
The 383ci displacement
comes from a DRM stroker kit that includes a new crank, JE forged pistons (for a
compression ratio in the 11s), Oliver rods and roller rockers. The heads
were also given a bit more of a tickle.
A generic chip was no
longer gonna cut the mustard with the stroker motor, so Tim took the car to
ChipTorque on the Gold Coast for a custom chip. A larger diameter airflow meter
was also installed to help reduce intake restriction. The stock fuel system was
also struggling, so a Lingenfeld pump and regulator were installed in
conjunction with Accel 24lb injectors.
The current power output -
240kW at wheels – is not outa-this-world by today’s standards, but the average output is gigantic.
“It’s got sh*^ loads of
torque,” says Tim.
“It pulls virtually
straight off idle all the way up to 6000 rpm.”
To date, the car’s best
quarter mile time is 12.01 seconds at 116.6 mph. Tim is confident of cracking
the 11s if only he could find better traction – the BFG Drag TA radials he uses
are now a bit old to give their optimum.
The C4’s already sizeable
brakes were also beefed up to later model C5 specs with 14 inch discs, which
were part of a DRM kit. A DRM suspension kit has also been bolted in – this
comprises shocks and springs. A VetteBrake ‘Smart Strut System’ gives rear
geometry adjustment to alter the rear wheel alignment angles and effective
The steering remains
standard but Tim did give the car’s existing right-hand-drive conversion a
Rims are standard Corvette
17 inch alloys, which are polished to a brilliant shine. And check out the tyre
size – 285/40 17 at the rear and 275/40 17 at the front. Tim relies on Goodgear
Eagle GS-Cs for street use.
The car looks completely
standard apart from the lowered stance and exhaust – the removable glass roof is
straight off the production line.
Inside, the standard
leather trim has been rejuvenated with custom centre inlays, the carpets have
been changed and the factory digital dash is augmented by a Monster tacho and
shift light. The audio system is also brought up to date with a Kenwood CD
stacker in the passenger side of the dash, an amp, front splits and rear sub.
Tim says the sound system
is the envy of many Corvette owners – apparently the ‘Vette’s unique interior
shape and dimensions make sorting a high-end sound system a real challenge.
Although Tim doesn’t use
the car as an everyday-er now (it’s too good) he does make sure he gets plenty
of fun out of it.
“The best street drag I
ever had was with a Viper GTS coming out of a car show,” says Tim.
“It did him no
“Oh, and then there was the
time with a chick driving a Barina away from 3 sets of lights – that was a
Boy, it sure is nice to
hear about an Australian ‘Vette that gets driven!