Yesterday Bob Wallace, former editor of Vette Magazine, stopped by the shop with Tabula Rossa, his project C5 Corvette Hardtop. The details really make the car – while most people just see a Red Corvette, a keen eye will pick up the finer details. Sporting a Magnuson Superchargers CARB-legal setup, mated to a Billy Boat Performance Exhaust CARB-Legal pair of headers and an SLP – Street Legal Performance Exhaust, it sounds as good as it looks.
Yes, it’s pretty clear this isn’t your average C5 – while it started life as basically a “Z06-before-we-called-it-Z06”, a hardtop, stripper Vette that tipped the scales at around 3100lbs with a tank of gas – in its current form, it’s gained some weight, coming in at around 3250lbs with a tankful of gas after adding massive brakes and a supercharger.
If the car seems familiar, it’s for good reason.
The car’s build was subject of about a dozen articles in Vette! Magazine in 2004 and 2005. Dubbed “Tabula Rossa” (ending with an “a”), based on the latin “tabula rasa” (Latin for a clean slate or literally, a scraped tablet) and “rossa” (Italian for red, as in Testa Rossa). It is fully streetable and has racked up approximately 27k miles since the build was completed, with the odometer currently reading slightly over 77k miles.
After checking records/dyno sheets to confirm, Bob tells us that in its current calibrated form (and completely CA emissions legal), the car makes makes 474 rwhp
and 452 lb/ft
of torque, with approx 400 lb/ft hitting the tires off idle
. What this means is that this Vette has no trouble vaporizing the beefy 295-series Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires
The rear profile of the Vette is nothing like stock and is somewhat unique to the car as well, from the unique out-of-production tips on the SLP Exhaust to the
“Group 5” rear fascia with is unique ducktail molded right into the bumper fascia – the Group 5 tail was designed and manufactured by Specter Werkes of Troy, MI, and believe it or not, that little ducktail does have an effect on the car at speed.
Closeup of Group 5 “ducktail” rear end.
The SLP Exhaust is mated to a set of Billy Boat
CARB Legal Headers for C5 Corvette, which helps enhance power even further, yet without worsening emissions. While yes, CARB approved stuff offers more conservative gains, you also get peace of mind that you don’t have to uninstall everything when it comes time to smog.
The paint scheme on the hood is both familiar and iconic, with the “Stinger” filling in the cowl for a classic muscle look. Bob came up with the paint scheme in 2004-05, long before the C6 and C7 resumed the styling trend. The “Magna-Extractor” Carbon Fiber Hood comes form Advanced Composite Products (Harrisburg, PA), with fully functional heat extractors, the hood’s like a restrained version of a Pratt & Miller hood from one of their racecars, and with good reason – originally designed for the World Challenge racing series, the street version seen here was created later with higher raised center to clear the intercooled MagnaCharger system.
Despite being at stock ride height, the C5 Corvette also looks low thanks to the 19 / 20 staggered wheels in place of the factory 17s, which give the car a much lower look due to the optical illusion. While most cars need a drop, the Vette is so low to begin with, to go much lower would take away from its usability on the roads of SoCal.
The wheels are from a now-defunct subbrand of MHT – Davin. A true forged wheel, the Davin Speed SP1’s look fantastic on the car and the 5-spoke design and stepped lip compliments the car beautifully.
With 478hp on tap, you need brakes that can stop you as quickly as that 3.2s 0-60 time – both front and rear have been replaced with massive dinnerplate sized Wilwood Brakes.
Here’s a closer look at the Davin Speed SP1s – one spoke features a carbon fiber accent stripe for a unique look.
On the inside, the number one feature that stands out is the fact that this is a proper 6-speed manual car, not one of those automatic cruisers for the leisureworld crowd. This is a Corvette that was built to be driven hard and fast, and one throw of the B&M/Hurst prototype short shifter is all you need to find out for yourself that this car means business.
The car looks great from every angle – there’s only so much we can say that the Vette doesn’t already say for itself, so check out the rest of the gallery below.
Mmmm, meaty Michelins.
Thanks to Bob Wallace for bringing “THE BEAST” by for a visit, and it just goes to show that even building totally CARB-legal, you can still put together an amazing vehicle.
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Story & Photos Nicholas Gregson