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.
I drove a C6 automatic at Corvettes at Carlisle, and on extreme top-end (140 mph plus) the car pulls much like a big-block, which was especially stimulating. The Mallett Corvette was producing almost 100 hp more, but the changes made to up the power level were almost unnoticeable until I floored it. Chuck uses various exhaust-system manufacturers for the systems he offers on Corvettes, and none have eliminated the resonance problem inherent with the LS1/LS6 engine family. While they all sound good at full throttle, none of them work well at all speeds, and Chuck continues to look for a solution.
The second half of the trip consisted of driving on the interstate. Traffic was lighter than normal at midmorning and I did some high-speed driving (at 100 mph plus), with Chuck watching out for the potentially unfriendly Cleveland Police Department. Chuck is either psychic or has eagle-eye vision when it comes to spotting police. Either way, you're pretty safe with him.
I let loose on the interstate, and the Corvette responded pronto. It has an unlimited top-end and keeps pulling much farther than most people feel comfortable with. Chuck has had it up to 196 mph with this configuration and, with additional Mallett upgrades, it could easily top 210 mph or so in street trim. On the top end, it handles great with no noticeable lifting. The powerband is wide and pulls hard in all gears. As I cruised through traffic at over 100 mph, the car was solid and changed lanes effortlessly, which it could do all day long and probably coast-to-coast if need be. At over 100 mph, I jokingly asked Chuck if we really needed Sixth gear, and we had a good laugh.
I exited the interstate and leaned on the brakes pretty hard; there was no fade or pull from high speed. Chuck usually upgrades the brakes, and this car's brakes are manufactured by Red Devil. More expensive packages are available, but these brakes worked well.
Back in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Corvette morphed back into a daily driver for the next couple of miles to the shop. I asked Chuck if he knew where I could do a holeshot to see how quick and hard it hooked up in a drag-racing situation. While the location must remain a secret, we headed that way. Chuck mentioned he hadn't driven the car nearly enough. When I asked why, he replied, "I'm constantly driving my Caddy everywhere. I've had this Corvette for eight weeks and have driven it, what, 190 miles? After this weekend, I'll probably put the Caddy up to start making all the intercooler stuff for it and start driving this car." Wow-rough life, Chuck.
During the drive back to the shop, I asked Chuck what he thought of the C6's fit and finish. He said he liked the final result and thought it was an improvement over the C5. "I still own several C5s and, right out of the box, the early C6 is really nice." We also discussed specifics about available Corvette clutch options. In its converted cars, Mallett uses the same clutch currently in the Z06. I like its smooth feel, especially given the extra horsepower the car produces.
We arrived at the holeshot location and I stopped in the street. Chuck said a 1,700-rpm launch would be ideal, so that's what I did. He said to be careful as trucks occasionally pull into the street, and it sounded like he was speaking from experience. When I brought up the rpm, the car was ready and so was I, so I dumped the clutch and away we went. The rear tires hazed a little, then hooked up big-time. I power-shifted into Second, laying about 5 feet of rubber; the car tracked straight and true as we continued to accelerate. I hit Third and it continued to pull hard but still straight. We hit about 100 mph before I had to stand hard on the brakes to make a curve ahead. I turned the corner, drove awhile longer, and pulled up to the shop. The first Corvette Fever Dream Drive was over. Man-what a way to start a series.
I want to thank Chuck for spending the day with me. We also drove the carbon-fiber Mosler MT900S and his 1,000hp CTS-V that day, but we'll save those Dream Drives for a later issue. Gary Box, an employee of Mallett Motorcars, owns a '65 Corvette that lays claim to the dubious title of Ohio's Fastest Streetcar. It carries a 500ci Littlefield-blown big-block that makes over 1,068 hp at the rear wheels. I took a wild ride in this 8.074/171.12 rocket on a city street and I don't think I was ever more impressed with a Corvette. Watch for more on this man-made automotive missile in a future issue. See you next time . . . same bat time . . . same bat channel. Hope you enjoyed our first Dream "Drive."
DescriptionMallett C6 Hammer Performance Package, $15,500 (2005 list)Standard features include:* 6.0L (366ci) LS2 engine* Custom-ported LS2 heads, flow and cc-matched* Custom billet camshaft, valvesprings, and pushrods* High-flow performance air cleaner* Mallett/Penske 7500 series nonadjustable Indy-style shocks* Mallett stainless muffler system* Aggressive vehicle stance: lowered and raked 31/44 inch* Performance all-wheel alignment* World-famous Mallett billet shifter* Exclusive Mallett body graphics* Mallett graphics embroidered on seat headrests* Mallett serial-number plaque* Two-year, 24,000-mile warranty
Available for coupe and convertible, with manual or automatic transmission.
Optional added upgrades include:* Mallett-Penske double-adjustable shocks* Chassis lowered 1 inch* Custom stainless exhaust* Custom stainless long-tube headers* High-flow catalytic converters* Custom Mallett three-piece forged wheels* Michelin Pilot Sport tires (275x35-18, 345x30-19)* Three-piece forged-billet aluminum wheels, utilizing the Mallett Classic 10-spoke design (10x18 front, 12.25x19 rear) fitted to the vehicle, finished in high-gloss charcoal-gray metallic powdercoat.* Huge Michelin 345x30-19 rear tires and 275x35-18 front provide outstanding grip under any condition.* Mallett embroidery on headrests is color-matched to body paint.* Double-adjustable Mallett-Penske shocks and a 1-inch-lowered ride height contribute to excellent handling and ride control.