Sinister C7: Over 1,000 Horses of Daily Driven American Muscle
One of the best things about the car-enthusiast world — aside from horsepower, of course — is that everyone, and every car, has a story. At first glance, Justin Keith’s ’14 C7 Corvette is good looking, but mostly stock. Upon closer inspection, you quickly see some telling cues that this Corvette runs deeper.
It all started on his grandma’s deathbed. No, really. Justin was nearly old enough to drive, and one of her last wishes was to buy the young gun his first car. To ensure her wishes were followed, she had him go get his dad so she could relay her instructions directly. With the pick of the lot, 15-year-old Justin chose a brand-new, red ’99 28 Camaro. If that’s not an equation for a powerful cocktail of trouble and fun, we don’t know what is. “It all spiraled out of control from there,” Justin remembers.
Out of high school, Justin started a job at the local Chevrolet dealership, where he quickly moved up the ranks to service advisor. Working around all those cars helped fuel his passion; as Justin recalls, “I would see all these new cars coming in… I probably owned 35 Chevys before the time I was 30.” With plenty of discretionary income and nothing to tie him down, Justin was living a young man’s dream.
His second Camaro, an ’02 Z28, would become his first project. “I started modifying it and going to car meets and began getting a name for myself.” That reputation continued building as he cycled through more cars, finding reasons to build relationships with aftermarket companies and continuing to impress on the street. “I bought my first Corvette in ’09. I traded it in when the new-generation Camaros came out in 2010. I built that car completely — it made 1,200 horsepower when I finally sold it.” The high-powered Camaro became Justin’s calling card; he was smashing track times and doing more than just becoming Insta-famous.
Eager to build more of a car culture in his hometown of Kansas City, Justin created a Facebook event for a parking-lot meet-up. “About 1,200 cars showed up to our little meet in Kansas City.” Overwhelmed with the response, and with surrounding business owners eager for him to bring in more customers, Justin realized there was an opportunity to build something more — and Street Car Takeover was born. A growing nationwide car-meet-slash-race-weekend, Street Car Takeover has grown from four yearly events to 17 booked in 2017.
When the fully reworked C7 Corvette appeared in 2014, Justin jumped at the chance to own one. Accomplishing everything he’d wanted during his four years owning the Camaro, it was time for a new challenge, and the Corvette certainly provided the perfect platform to promote what Street Car Takeover is all about.
“It’s crazy to think that a new car with a few bolt-on mods can be this fast,” Justin exclaims. While “a few bolt-on mods” may be an understatement, there’s no denying the stock C7 Corvette is one helluva car.
Seeking to bring the Corvette to a new generation of enthusiasts, GM invested much effort in making sure the C7 wasn’t just another old man’s car. Revised styling, the new LT1 powerplant and 460 hp straight from the showroom were all aimed at enticing the younger buyer. You could say Justin Keith is Chevy’s poster boy of an owner. He was impressed enough by the C7’s stock capabilities that he thought he may just leave well enough alone. But when ProCharger called up wanting to put the first supercharger on the C7’s LT1, Justin couldn’t say no.
With the ProCharger system mated and some fueling help from Cordes, paired with entry-level BC Racing coilovers and Nitto 555Rs, Justin’s C7 was smoking other cars at the dragstrip with a timeslip of 9.69 on the quarter-mile at 143 mph. “There is nothing crazy on the car, it just works,” Justin exclaims. As to the 555Rs, he gets some raised eyebrows from drag racers who favor slicks, but he first gave them a shot on his 1,200 hp Camaro and hasn’t gone back. “For that Corvette, the 555Rs are the perfect tire. They wrap around the whole image of it as a street car while also just hooking up. I can daily drive on these tires for a full year, and get stuck in the rain, and I don’t have to change the tires to go to the track and run a 9-second pass.”
While 1,000 hp isn’t unheard of on cars these days, having it in a fully streetable car with A/C that you can daily drive is still something special. All the spirited driving Justin has done in that C7 must have connected to his heart strings, because he’s now owned it for longer than most of his other cars and doesn’t have plans on selling. “I normally don’t get attached to my cars, but I did to this one; I love the car and I honestly can’t picture myself without it at this point,” Justin says. “I am just going to continue modifying it and making it faster.”
Knocked off the top quarter-mile time for a manual C7 last year, Justin recently upped his game by swapping to a new ERL Superdeck 427ci LT engine. ERL takes a factory aluminum block, sleeves it, upgrades the heads and the cam, and adds extra cylinder bolt holes to strengthen the block’s seal — making it bulletproof up to 2,000 hp. Once the new engine was planted, ProCharger stepped in with a bigger supercharger system and air-to-water race intercooler. Next, Nitrous Outlet added even more boost with its direct port kit.
With the car making all that extra power, it also needed more fuel, which is where Cordes excels. Making its own fuel systems and being experts in LS Performance engines and tuning, Cordes dialed in the new engine setup to get it ready to claim back the fastest manual C7 title. With 400 additional horsepower at his fingertips, Justin expects the car to reach into the mid-8s at the strip — all of this using the stock transmission and few suspension upgrades.
“Before Street Car Takeover, dragstrips were considered ‘not cool’ in the circles I run in,” Justin says. “We get guys out that normally would never go to the dragstrip. They’re having fun and trying to best their times and going out and buying parts to modify their cars with.” It seems Justin isn’t just a fresh face for the Corvette but the aftermarket industry as a whole. “I think it’s just going to keep getting bigger,” he predicts.
With manufacturers giving us plenty of performance options to choose from, we’d have to agree the future looks bright for capturing the next generation of enthusiasts.
See this C7 for yourself and join in the fun with one of Street Car Takeover’s upcoming events. Find out more at streetcar-takeover.com.
2014 Corvette Stingray
|ENGINE||ERL Superdeck 427 ci|
|AIRFLOW||ProCharger F1A-94 Blower and intake manifold|
|EXHAUST||Kooks 2” headers, B&B exhaust|
|DRIVELINE||ProCharger air-to-water race intercooler, Nitrous Outlet direct port system, Deatschwerks low-pressure fuel system, Pro EFI system, Monster Clutches triple-disc billet clutch, tuning by Cordes Performance and Justune|
|SUSPENSION||GForce Engineering rear axles, BC Racing Coilovers, Vasko Speed rear control arms, LG Motorsports spindles|
|WHEELS||Weld S77 18x5 (front) and (15x10) rear with beadlock|
|TIRES||Nitto 555R 275/60/15 drag radials|
|BODY||Z06 front fenders, custom 427 emblems|
Browse through the gallery below for more shots of this sinister C7.
(Photos: Cory Mader)