Corvette Fever threw down the gauntlet last year. Rich Rembold and his wife, Geri, picked it up. It came in the form of an article stating, Rich recalls, "Words to the effect that [Corvette Fever] doubted anyone would find a husband and wife with a pair of Corvettes as strong as the two they had in their article."
In reaction, Rich fired off a letter to our editor. "If you want to take a look at a husband and wife duo," he wrote, "then come to the 50th Corvette Anniversary in Nashville."
Why? Because Rich was sure his '98 427 twin-turbo widebody and his wife's supercharged '99 Lingenfelter convertible would "give those folks a run for their money." Rich's twin-turbo 427 delivers 750 hp, and Geri's supercharged '99 produces 525. Both ratings are measured at the crank, engine dyno figures.
Rich's widebody was first in the family. He calls it "Papa Bear," named after the flowing widebody by Lingenfelter, making it all the better to serve the magnificent powerplant within. The '98 coupe went through several iterations to get to this level.
First was the installation of the Stage 1 twin-turbo on the stock LS1. Rich and Geri are members of the NCCC (National Council of Corvette Clubs) and began by taking the car to several of its concours events. The Rembolds have owned Corvettes before and they belong to the Bel Air Corvette Club in Bel Air, Maryland.
A year later, Rich, the associate provost at Coppin State College and law professor at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, went back to Lingenfelter to upgrade to the 383ci Stroker engine, still keeping the twin turbos. Along with the 383 Stroker came the killer look-the glorious widebody-developed by Lingenfelter for speeds of more than 200 mph.
"After John Lingenfelter turned that 225 or 226 in his Stage II twin-turbo, it was a little light," Rich says. "So the body may have been in response to meeting the needs for high-speed stability."
If Rich made a hit with his twin-turbo C5 stock-bodied coupe, he became the darling of concours showing with the new body. He placed Second in the entire East Region in concours events. But, alas, the widebody's stone chips from highway cruising had taken their points toll. Rich sent the Corvette back to LPE for fresh paint. Not one to pass up an opportunity after shipping the C5 from Maryland to Indiana, Rich thought about changing to the 427ci engine. LPE explained the C5-R block was available and Rich gave the OK.
The result is the first 427ci twin-turbo engine installed in the widebody. Geri, who has enjoyed cars since she was a kid, remembers, "After Rich got his twin-turbo, it was really something, but I never expected the reaction of the people when they saw it. I said, 'I can't believe people are taking pictures of your car.' It was unbelievable. Every time we'd go somewhere, he'd say, 'I'll drive. I'll drive.' So I decided to get my own."
Geri's retirement was coming up and she thought a new Corvette would be an appropriate punctuation mark to a brilliant career. She chose a more counterculture route than her husband by choosing a '99 convertible. But things got interesting when she and Rich were camped around the Lingenfelter tractor-trailer rig at an NCCC event. Geri says, "I was sitting there with Rich looking at the cars they had brought, and I said, 'Look at the hood on that one car. It's got a little bump.' "
The little bump was to clear the supercharger. Geri decided her car would still look plain with the blower, and nobody would notice a thing unless they detected the "little bump in the hood."
She's all about stealth when it comes to her Corvette. For the installation of the supercharger, Geri made up a new word, "tweakage," which she described as "minor modification."
"Oh, it won't be minor," John said in his intellectual, professorial way. "Yeah, but nobody will know." Geri was asking for reassurance that she wasn't losing the plain character of her '99 convertible.
Lingenfelter did the job. They even polished the blower housing. Aaron at Design Specialties custom-built fuel-rail covers.
But Geri was in for two surprises. When she stomped on the accelerator for the first time after picking up the car from Lingenfelter in Decatur, Indiana, Rich was ahead in his car. "I was on top of Rich before I knew it," she says. "We had little two-way radios in the cars. I said, 'I just scared myself.' "The second surprise was the reaction at shows. "When we went to the first show, Rich said, 'Wait till the people come by and see your car.' They never paid any attention to my car 'cause they were tripping over themselves to get to his. It was at Carlisle when I first lifted up the hood. Well, the people started coming over and taking pictures and saying, 'Oh my gosh, look at that. That's just what I want. The perfect sleeper!' I said to Rich, 'Hey they're taking pictures of my car.' He said, 'I told you they would.' "
A marriage made in heaven? How about one made in Decatur, Indiana, by those fine folks at LPE.