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Purifoy at Heart

Joined
May 29, 2002
Messages
8,674
Location
Missoura Ozarks
Corvette
2012 💯 4LT GS Roadster
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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
 
Joined
May 29, 2002
Messages
8,674
Location
Missoura Ozarks
Corvette
2012 💯 4LT GS Roadster
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"Rollie [Purifoy] told me it was already reserved for somebody else," Jim remembers. He decided to take a walk through the shop anyway, and while looking around noticed some new-Z06 bodywork coming out of the paint booth. The panels were destined for Purifoy's next C6 project, a convertible Rollie foresaw as a faux-Z06 makeover. By the time Jim left, he'd struck a deal to become the car's owner upon its completion.

With the machine set to debut at the Vettes On the Rockies car show a few weeks away, the Burridges were thus on the fast-track to C6 possession. "I had felt the Z06 was the only C6 to buy, but this turned out to be a great compromise," Jim notes. "There's really a lot to this thing—it's a car that the factory should have made." Over the weeks leading up to the tunercar's completion, Jim made daily visits to Purifoy to weigh in on its progress and form. "We pretty much agreed on everything," he says of the final formulation.

The first step in the conversion was adapting factory Z06 bodywork to the narrower convertible form. The OE rear fenders were designed for the coupe only, so they couldn't just be bolted on. The solution was to section the car's existing fenders about two inches below the roll line and then bond in the equivalent lower sections of OE Z06 units. This was done using the same bonding methods employed by the factory, so later problems with separation or delamination are unlikely.

Fitting the flared, carbon-fiber front OE fenders was easier. Once the roadster's original inner fender liners were replaced with OE Z06 parts, the new panels could be bolted right on. Rounding out the exterior changes, a Z06 front fascia and rear lip spoiler (struck by Specter Werkes of Troy, Michigan) were added. Purifoy body whiz Jason Peck handled the engineering and installation.

After the new bodywork was in place, the roadster was completely refinished in its original Arctic White with high-end PPG paint and color-sanded to remove any orange peel or other flaws. Finally, the design was put over the edge with a red finishing stripe running from just over the nose to the edge of the trunk; the graphic was set off with carefully laid black and white pinstriping. "The white paint with the red stripe gives the car a lot more detail," Rollie Purifoy offers. "We wanted to build a car you could keep looking at and always be discovering more things."

With the exterior transformation resolved, the next step was to put similar magic in the open car's cockpit—a task Purifoy subbed to John Collins of the Denver shop Autoweave. "We wanted to carry the look of the exterior into the interior," says Purifoy, "so we continued the red stripe by repainting the center stack." The seat centers and door panels were redone in silver leather; a carbon-weave pattern embossed into the hides echoed the composite of the Z06 front fenders. A similar carbon-fiber pattern was also used in the black piping on the seats, and stainless-steel eyelets were integrated into the cushions. "I was walking through our shop one day and I saw a pad one of the mechanics was using to kneel on; it'd been made out of an old couch," Purifoy remembers. "It had these little rings in the upholstery, and I thought, 'That would really look cool in an interior.' I went down to Autoweave right away and asked if they could put something like that in the seats." After deciding on the soft parts, a matched set of chrome roll-hoops added some hard-surfaced final sparkle. "The rollbars give more dimension and also help tie the wheels into the interior."

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Joined
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Messages
8,674
Location
Missoura Ozarks
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2012 💯 4LT GS Roadster
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Those wheels would be polished, three-piece HRE 840s measuring 19x10 front and 20x12 rear (and retailing, Purifoy notes dryly, for a cardiac-inducing $9000). "But [HRE's] fitment is unquestionably the best," he says. "You can have a great-looking men's suit, but add the wrong shoes it just doesn't work. With cars it's the same." The wheels got shod with super-sticky Pirelli P-Zero tires measuring 275/30-ZR19 in front and a rubber-band-emulating 345/25-ZR20 at the rear. Even at these radical sizes, the addition of factory Z06 brake hardware went a long way towards filling the inside.

The most straightforward (and mechanically safest) way to approach the spectacular handling of a factory Z06, Purifoy and Burridge agreed, was to stick with the track-oriented, factory-sorted RPO Z51 system of larger antiroll bars, stiffer springs, and recalibrated shocks. Under the hood, a ZL465 SLP PerformancePac conversion was picked to give the original six-liter LS2 roughly 465 horses, just 40 shy of the seven-liter LS7's 505. That was deemed more than enough for Burridge's street use, the open chassis' comfort zone, and the tuner's plan to use GM's new six-speed, paddle-shift automatic. "We wanted the availability of an auto with the ability to shift manually," Purifoy says. "It's the best of both worlds."

The final spec included an SLP Blackwing cold-air-induction box, new 1.85- (versus 1.7-to-one) roller rockers, a reprogrammed PCM, stainless ceramic-coated long-tube headers with 2.5-inch four-into-one collectors, 2.5-inch stainless downpipes, and dual high-flow SLP catalytic convertors. The exhaust system also got fit with an X-pipe crossover, a balancing tube, and four nifty cast-alloy SLP tips.

In the final days leading up to the official unveiling at Vettes On the Rockies, Purifoy's crew worked night and day to resolve any last-minute details and polish the car to perfection. Amazingly, at home Jim was able to contain his secret right through the process; when he and Linda arrived at the show, the latter had no idea she'd be seeing her own new Corvette. More than a little nervous about the surprise, Jim recalls, "When we walked up to the Purifoy display I said 'Linda—whatever you do, don't tell me you don't like this car.'"

He needn't have worried. "If I had my way," Linda says, "I'd have a Corvette from every generation—I just love them, and I'm the one who's always pushing for more."

Since taking delivery the Burridges have enjoyed their quasi-Z06 on weekend rides and given it some track time. "It rides remarkably smoothly and is very quiet," marvels Jim. "With the top down there's very little wind noise. At 65 you can still talk and listen to the radio. The paddle shift is fantastic, especially in Track Mode Two; Brian even ran the car on the track between sessions with the '65. His comment was 'awesome!' I decided I'd better put away the new car before he got any ideas about getting rid of the old one."

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LT4man

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 25, 2003
Messages
2,217
Location
Chicago
Corvette
96 Collectors Edition LT4
What a great story, Dwayne! :upthumbs

SAVE THE :w
 

*89x2*

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Messages
10,357
Location
CallawayOwnersGroup.com
Purifoy has made MANY amazing cars over the decade(s)

That car is a neat one - I saw it at Vettes on the Rockies when it debuted in July :cool

I also read about in Corvette Enthusiast Magazine a few months ago :upthumbs
 
Joined
Aug 30, 2002
Messages
1,533
Location
Colorado Springs, CO USA
Corvette
84 Z51 auto R.I.P. 89 black roadster SOLD

What he said...

I really like the small subtle "spoiler" on the rear....I've always thought the C6 body really needs that to complete the "look".

May have to go try to see that one in person next time I'm in Ft. Lupton! (which was supposed to be today, but weather prevented that)

Bill
 

Norseman

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 4, 2006
Messages
283
Location
Illinois
Corvette
2006 Blue Z51 Coupe/2004 STi for the snow.
Hmmm.

Don't like the spoiler or the rectangular exhaust tips.:ugh
 

Cruza

Active member
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
44
Location
Fast Lane USA
Corvette
2001 Z06 Black&Black
Too bad Chevy won't build stuff like that. I still don't understand why they don't. I know the Z is badass, but for the most part no one will ever drive their Z's anywhere near the limit. Does Chevy realize this? Why are they being so dam difficult? :eyerole :confused
 

Cruza

Active member
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
44
Location
Fast Lane USA
Corvette
2001 Z06 Black&Black
No I'm not having a bad day, I just wish that Chevy would make an optional Vert & removable roof for the Z. After reading some of the Purifoy article and noticeing how well they built their toy, and knowing that Bowling Green can do just as good or better. It's not like the average Z pilot is gong to drive their toys anywhere near the limit. I understand engineering, but can't Chevy cut back on some of the strenth to allow the Z to be a Vert or have a roof option? :confused
 

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