Gettin’ Saucy, The C5 Corvette
1999 Chevrolet Corvette, owned by Ryan Briscoe
It can be difficult to find a balance between all out performance, and practicality. At what point does a car stop being fun to drive everyday? At what point is a car too soft for the track? Finding a happy medium between these extremes can be a very challenging task. But when you get it right, the results are nothing short of inspiring. Having a street car that is also a track weapon, is something of a personal goal of mine. This C5 Corvette executes this perfectly.
This C5 is owned by a friend of mine, Ryan. He purchased the car mostly finished, but took the time to really make sure everything was clean and done right. When I first saw the car, it had plastidipped wheels, and what looked like a horrible birth mark on the front bumper. But he quickly took care of these issues, making the car look pristine. One feature that definitely stood out to me, were the fixed headlights. The original pop up headlights have something of a reputation for acting like parachutes when open. I think the fixed units actually work quite well with the body lines, and look right at home on the car.
Now on the face of it, this car looks like a Z06. It’s a fixed roof coupe, with the brake ducts and Z06 wheels. However this Corvette started life as a base model. But this isn’t a case of all show and no go. A great deal of work went into making the car perform even better than it looks. Z06 sway bars were added front and rear, as well as the Z06 intake. A tune and exhaust were added, making this car push a little over 400 horsepower. It’s the perfect weapon to get saucy at the track, as Ryan puts it.
It sits on LG Motorsports GT2 coilovers all the way around, and gives the car a perfect stance. The Corvette doesn’t really lend itself to being slammed. But with a functional, track oriented ride height, the car looks absolutely menacing. Couple this with the fact that the car is daily driven, and it makes sense to have some clearance all the way around.
With all of that tuning piped to a throaty exhaust, and the soundtrack is intoxicating. I’ve had the good fortune to ride shotgun in this car on the track, and the sounds that it makes are nothing short of incredible. It seems like many people write off V8s as being played out or overdone. Even manufacturers are dropping naturally aspirated V8s in favor of small displacement boosted engines. But none of that really makes any sense when you hear the heartbeat underneath the hood of this C5.
Inside the cockpit, the car is completely driver oriented. A Sparco Sprint V bucket seat, a Momo three spoke wheel, and a short shifter with a classic white knob, all steal your attention. This car was built with battle in mind, it gives the car away as being track focused. But if you pay attention, other little details start to creep in. The worn bolster on the Sparco, the auxillary wire spliced into the factory stereo, the factory seat belts. It all points to the fact that this car is also daily driven. The car doesn’t sacrifice all creature comforts in the pursuit of speed. It’s well balanced, and so many builds lose sight of that.
And that is Ryan’s favorite part about the car. He said that the best part about this C5 is the fact that he could drive it to the track, beat on it all day and then drive it back home without any issues. It remains comfortable, has AC, and even sips gas if he stays off the throttle. It isn’t a horsepower monster, or a gutted track rat. But it’s because of those facts, this car shines so much. There is a certain restraint with the build that is hard to find elsewhere. A conscious effort was made to ensure this C5 remained balanced between it’s street and track lives.
If I’m honest, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Corvette. It’s not because I didn’t appreciate the car, but I had never had any direct contact with one. I saw them en masse at car shows, or track days, but never had a chance to get up close and personal. Having spent a lot of time around this particular example, I’m sold. I get it now, there are so few cars available that give you the total package that the C5 can offer. And given the current market, these cars are ridiculously under priced for the experience they give you.
The C5 is nothing short of a tuners dream. The potential for big power, and a substantial aftermarket make for an incredibly competent platform. With tuners pushing the limits of the chassis, it’s great to be reminded that these cars can remain balanced. I have a deep appreciation for subtle cars. While it might be a stretch to call a bright red Corvette subtle, as far as tuners go, this build shows a lot of restraint.
Like many gear heads, the itch to try something new eventually hit Ryan. Although he said the car has been incredible to own, it was time to move on and build something different. The car was recently sold, and it’s replacement is currently under the knife at the time of writing. It’s certainly a radical change of pace from the Corvette, but I’m excited to see what comes from his latest project.
Please contact me if you would like to use any of these photos on your own website or social media. You can reach me by email on my contact form, or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@speedlimitless). At the very least tag me, please?