540ci, 807HP, All-Aluminum Road Race Rat Motor
Scott Mercer, Los Altos, CA
While some guys still like the idea of slapping a big Rat motor into a Camaro and burning up the quarter-mile, there is a move afoot where these same Rats are now being stuffed into fat-tire cars that turn corners, yank your eyeballs out of their sockets during aggressive-g braking, and are still capable of delivering an awesome freeway driving experience. Such is the '69 Corvette that Campbell Auto Restoration (CAR) built for Scott Mercer. But this build has a twist. Scott wanted a machine that looked like it just jumped out of hyperspace from Le Mans in 1969-with a few late model upgrades just for fun. For an engine, Scott wanted a tweaked Rat to maintain the big-block bloodline. The OE three-deuce factory inlet gave way to the bed-of-snakes Kinsler cross-ram EFI manifold and the custom aluminum airboxes you see here. Making 807 hp at a loafing 6,300 rpm, this thumper pulls down 600 lb-ft of torque between 3,000 and 4,500 rpm and more than 650 lb-ft from 4,500 to 6,000 rpm. This is no candy-striper. In last year's inaugural Optima Battery Ultimate Street Car Challenge, the Corvette finished Second overall with a rookie driver. Following that, we next saw the car indoors at the Grand National Roadster Show. That's like being a supermodel who also just happens to be an Olympic silver medalist. Man...
A. Engine Ted Yamashiro of Top of the Hill Performance Center in Livermore, California, did the engine assembly work, starting with no less than a Keith Black aluminum block fitted with a lightweight Crower 4.25-inch stroke crank to make the 540 ci. Compression is 10.0:1 with Crower rods and JE pistons. The AFR CNC-ported heads move metric tons of air, while the valves are controlled by a Comp mechanical roller that Scott would rather not discuss.
B. Induction This style Kinsler manifold could easily been seen on a Can-Am car back in the mid-'60s with mechanical fuel injection instead of electronic. Today, the manifold is fitted with Accel DFI Gen VII electronics, and the inlet throttles are covered with a set of custom K&N air filter boxes to keep out small birds that might otherwise be ingested when this monster goes to WOT. The multiple hard lines feed into a common plenum used to stabilize the manifold absolute pressure (MAP) readings.
C. Lubrication You don't turn corners with an all-aluminum Rat motor with a wet-sump oil pan. The ARE dry-sump handles the lubricating duties. The reservoir can be seen here as far back in the engine compartment as the CAR guys could move it.
D. Hour Meter Exotic cars like this Vette rarely rack up lots of miles. Hence, CAR fitted the Vette with an hour meter. The gauge reads 78 hours, which means Scott likes to drive this beast. That means lots of laps at Thunderhill, Northern California's local road course. Where do we sign up to be envious?
E. Transmission If wheeling an 800hp Vette with a complete custom suspension isn't enough to light your candle, then we'll just casually do a name drop here on you-Quaife sequential six-speed gearbox. Man, this is a serious car. Quaife is an English company that builds some of the finest road race gearboxes in the world. The sequential box in Scott's Corvette is listed as the one for Viper road race use that can handle up to 750 lb-ft of torque. Somehow, we think it can handle this beast.
F. Chassis Stock is not a word often used in reference to the suspension on Scott's Corvette. CAR strengthened everything with a rollcage and custom bracing under the fender-flared body. The front suspension uses CAR-built custom unequal-length control arms, Öhlin coilover shocks, and Eibach springs. In the rear is a Paul Newman Car Creations C4 rear suspension using a Dana 44 rear differential with carbon-fiber halfshafts. Brakes? Just Baer/Alcon six-piston calipers on Alcon rotors. Tires are Michelin Sport PS-2 335/ 30ZR18s in the front and 345/35ZR19s on the rear. And just to kick us in the teeth, this beast only weighs 3,125 pounds.
Still not impressed? Then did you know this car started as a real '69 427 Tri-power, four-speed Vette? We won't tell the Bloomington Gold people if you don't. Oh wait, we just did.