Pictures and words by mountain-man Zachary Mayne.
A Colorado dealer/tuner and a Corvette-crazed family have teamed up to make the car Chevy refused to build.
All the way back to the days of the ZR1, Corvette fans who desired both max power and a softtop have found themselves out of luck. The ZR1, C5 Z06, and current C6 Z06 all shun the convertible body.
That leaves speed-crazed sunworshippers with fairly few options. One, they can chop the roof off a high-output factory model and try shoring up the resulting conversion. Two, they can convince the factory to make them a special, one-off edition (note—they need a last name like "Duntov" or "Runkle" for this one). Three, they can take a standard-edition ragtop and try to reverse-engineer it into a high-output replica. Purifoy Chevrolet—the elite dealer/tuner in Fort Lupton, Colorado—went down the third road with the car you see here, and the result is a Z06-inspired ragtop that looks even more distinctive than its OE brother and turns in lap times that aren't all that far in arrears.
The first takers on the idea were diehard Corvette nuts Jim and Linda Burridge "Corvette people are really attracted to the roadster," says Jim of the finished creation. "They come in for a closer look and then get a big puzzled frown on their faces. They know the factory hasn't made a Z06 convertible. Sometimes they walk around the car a few times, trying to figure it out. If we don't say anything, they'll eventually just walk away shaking their heads and muttering."
The Burridges' faux-Z06 is the latest addition to a fleet of Corvettes in their Brighton, Colorado garage. On top of the tweaked convertible there's a vintage-race '65 coupe, a matching '65 convertible, an ex-SCCA '62 racer, and a '92 coupe. "I grew up in the late-'50s and early-'60s watching SCCA Corvettes at Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado," recalls Jim. "'Real' sports cars in that era were funny little European jobs, but I always favored American iron and admired the men that raced them." These days, Jim has gone from admiration to emulation; he races the '62 himself, and his son Brian campaigns the '65.
As much as the Burridges are hardcore fans of the classics, they also go in for current Corvettes. Linda, in particular, wanted to add a new one to the family's list, but she had been less than impressed by the finish quality of the latest examples. That changed when the family went to a local car show and discovered a brand-new C6 coupe with exquisite aftermarket body- and paintwork.
"Linda saw it and really liked it," Jim recalls of the hotrod Corvette, which had been constructed by Purifoy Chevrolet. Over the last 20 years Purifoy has designed and assembled hundreds of custom Corvettes—modern analogues to the customs by Yenko, Baldwin-Motion, and similar dealer/preparers in days gone by. A short while after seeing the high-quality coupe, Jim went down to Purifoy's showroom to inquire about buying the car as a surprise present for Linda.
Corvette Magazine Article