This month, we kick off our new Dream Drive series, where we will actually drive each vehicle that's featured in the series. I mean, really drive them like we drive our own cars, only faster. With this project, we want to transport you into the Corvette for a day, riding along with us. We're also audio-recording these drives and hope to post them on the www.corvettefever.com Web site sometime soon. While we're searching for the baddest Corvettes on the planet for Dream Drive, we also plan to drive many of the feature cars that appear in Corvette Fever. Most of us like to look at sharp and rare Corvettes, and we'd rather drive them if given the chance. This will be the closest thing to being there. We hope you enjoy the "rides" as much as we're enjoying the "drives." Hang on.
For our first Dream Drive, we wanted to drive a Corvette that's recognizable, yet somehow new to most of you. Chuck Mallett and Mallett Cars Ltd. are on the cutting edge of Chevrolet high-performance technology, and have been for some time. They work closely with Chevrolet on a variety of projects. This car is the first Mallett C6 (SN No. 1) and it has an extremely low VIN production-sequence number (00651). Chuck picked up this new C6 Corvette the first day of C6 shipping at the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. That was three days before the Corvettes at Carlisle 2004 show, and he still had it converted to Mallett specs in time for the show.
I flew to Cleveland the day before the Dream Drive, and Chuck picked me up in his hot Mallett supercharged 427 CTS-V Cadillac that just won the '04 Car and Driver Supercar Challenge. This car pushes right at 1,000 hp at the flywheel. Once we got back to the shop, I hung out taking photos, talking with everyone, and generally being nosy without anyone noticing.
Chuck and I took the CTS-V to dinner. We had a great meal with his better half in a cozy restaurant. On the way out, he threw me the keys and I drove the CTS-V about a mile back to his house. This is undeniably the fastest streetable Cadillac (210 mph verified) in the world. We were in residential neighborhoods, so I didn't have a chance to wring up the car; but the "super speed snare" had now been set for me.
After a good night's sleep, I was ready for a full day of driving some fast cars. Chuck and I arrived at the shop where several of his employees were making final adjustments to the Mallett C6 Corvette. The car was lowered about an inch per Mallett specs and was running Mallett-Penske double-adjustable shocks, both of which were being readjusted for our run. Chuck wanted to try lowering the car another 11/48 inch for the Dream Drive. It currently runs a 6.0L (366 ci) LS2 engine with custom-ported LS2 heads that have been flowed and cc-matched. It also uses a more radical (secret specs) Mallett custom-billet camshaft, valvesprings, and pushrods. A high-flow performance air cleaner rounds out the underhood modifications. This engine package produces about 428 hp (415 lb-ft of torque) at the rear wheels and about 500 hp at the flywheel. For most people, that's plenty of power to get in trouble. The Corvette uses the stock transmission and rear-gear ratio, but uses one of Mallett's famous short-throw billet shifters for obvious reasons.
After we left the shop, I took the car through some city driving, weaving my way through stop-and-go traffic for about five miles. The Mallett Corvette behaved well, even though the quick-release clutch took about a mile or so to get used to. It handled nimbly, changing easily from lane to lane; it obviously had power to spare in all conditions. Chuck had lowered and raked the car another inch or so, which seemed to drastically change how quickly it responded to minute changes in the steering wheel. You wouldn't think it would make that much difference, but it did.