$500 Racecar Roll Cage Construction

Our intrepid race team completed one of the major requirements for building a $500 racecar this weekend, construction of the roll cage. It wasn’t an easy task but having the proper tools, reading the rules eleventy times, and making sure to measure at least once made the job a whole lot smoother.

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Build Your Own Corvette (Video)

Chevrolet’s Unique Program Lets Drivers Create Their Own Corvette

The Corvette is as American as apple pie. Now owners of the iconic symbol can lend a hand in building part of their American dream, specifically a supercharged engine.

As part of the world’s most hands-on supercar program, the Corvette Engine Build Experience allows drivers to literally build the 638 horsepower engine that will power their car. Radio personality, Todd Schnitt is the first customer to take part in the program. At the Wixom, Michigan facility, expert technicians lead owners like Todd through the process one step at a time. When the engine is assembled, a personalized nameplate is added to the engine next to the builder’s name.

This is just one of the latest program offerings to Corvette enthusiasts. Owners can also watch their cars roll down the assembly line, pick them up at the National Corvette Museum and receive complimentary high-speed driving instruction.

2010 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible: A Nice Slice Of Pie

Most boys when they are young dream of two things: hot girls and fast cars. One of those fast cars typically includes the Corvette (though your situation may vary). I distinctly remember when growing up thinking about the Corvette, although it was not until the C6 (6th generation Corvette) introduced in 2005 that my interest was truly piqued. The Corvette has always been somewhat of a performance bargain, and that is still the case to this day. For the 2010 model year the question is simple – is the new Grand Sport Package all that and a slice of pie, or just another trim option not worth the price of entry? Let’s find out.

Exterior

The first thing you notice about Corvette is that Chevrolet ditched the flip-up headlights (years ago). This gives the car a clean look day or night, and the projector lenses provide crisp cut off lines at night. The front end is low, with a slight plastic lip attached to the front clip (careful when parking!). Directly above the Corvette emblem is an air inlet like those found on Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models. Directly behind the front wheel wells are two gills topped with Grand Sport lettering. The rear quarter panels have a rear brake duct and the door handles are hidden (as with all C6 Corvette’s). The rear features four round taillights and quad exhaust tips poking out from the center of the car. The exterior is aggressive and taught. More then one person noted that the headlights reminded them of those on Ferraris, and I can see how they make that comparison. The Grand Sport hash marks on the front fenders I could go without, but they are not terribly gaudy. The soft top is power operated, however you have one latch inside to release before lowering. The top stows in the rear, eating into trunk space, which is surprisingly still enough for a nice weekend getaway (tested). The rear deck is clean and flat when the top is down. Overall, the exterior is good looking with an aggressive stance.

Interior

The interior of this car is such a love-hate drama. I love that it is functional. I hate that is dated. Let’s start with the functional part – with more then enough leg room, the interior is comfortable. The seats are comfortable for everyday driving and the ergonomics are excellent, with switchgear in easy reach and everything laid out nicely. The head up display is terrific day and night. OK, I am done with the good – now the bad. This interior has aged. The plastics are fine but nothing to write home about. The optional leather wrapped dash and door panels do their best to kick things up a notch, and it is an improvement. The electronics are another story. The $1,750 optional navigation system is disc based, not the newer hard drive-based system used in many of the current General Motors cars. You want to listen to your iPhone/iPod? Too bad, there is no USB port.

Want to use an auxiliary in? Nope not available. You pretty much need a radio transmitter to play such advanced devices. I realize that those things aren’t what this car is about….but come on, it is 2010!

I cannot decide if I am being too picky or unrealistic but I will say on a road trip down to Iowa I pretty much just settled for XM radio since I was not going to obviously listen to my iPhone. I would like to note that for 2011 I have heard the Corvette will get both an auxiliary port and USB port.

Just want to warn you, the center tunnel seems to get nice and warm, which you will notice if you rest your leg against it. Oh, and those comfy seats? They are comfy, but in no way up for what this car is capable of on a track.

So while comfy for everyday driving and highway trips, the interior is overall just fine, but it is definitely aging.

Powertrain

It is truly amazing how quickly any negatives I just previously stated fade away once you push the start button. The pushrod V-8 comes to life with a nice raspy burble. The 6.2 liter LS3 V8 pushes 436 horsepower and 428 pound feet (with optional exhaust), while six-piston brake calipers up front clamp down on cross-drilled rotors. The brakes shed speed off quickly. That power was put down (you sitting down?) through a six-speed automatic transmission. I will state that more Corvettes then you want to believe are actually sold with automatic transmissions.

A sad but true fact. Do not worry too much because we have paddle shifters (that might be out of a Malibu). I will say this, while I would personally never buy a Corvette with an automatic transmission, it behaved better then expected. It did what I wanted it to do 95% of the time. Still, I would skip that pesky $1,250 option. One option I would not skip is the $1,195 for that optional exhaust. Dual mode exhaust combined with a drop top is a combination for pure awesome.

The exhaust note is tame and deep when you mash the go pedal, until about 3,300 RPM and then the baffles open up and it sounds like the devil. You can not help but grin like an idiot. That is just it, while driving this car it hard not to smile. By the way, how many cars with 436 hp do you know of that are rated at 15/25 mpg? Try that in a Ferrari! In the city I averaged 15.4 mpg with plenty of spirited driving. On the highway trip down to Iowa I averaged 24.1 with the cruise control set at 77. That is nothing short of impressive!

The current Corvette has been on the market since 2005. That is over 5 model years, and we probably will not see the next Corvette (C7) until 2012 at the earliest (probably later then that). The first question is, does the Corvette still compete on the same level as it used too? It has certainly aged, yet it can still keep up with the best of them.

The base price is hard to argue with too, though the Grand Sport model I was in had a sticker price of $75,740. That is close to a brand new Z06. Part of that problem was the $16,210 in options. You could pare that down easily and still have a great performing car. I would say without a doubt the Corvette Grand Sport optioned lightly might be a better value then the base Corvette in many regards. So yes, it is all that and a slice of pie – just be careful on those options.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

Review courtesy of Joel Feder and Accelerate Mpls. Thanks!

Build your own $500 Buick racecar

The 24 Hours of LeMons series is utterly fascinating. The premise of racing $500 cars in an endurance race to win $1500 in nickels seems like it would hold zero appeal to anyone, yet many many people field teams to compete in these shows of automotive lunacy. This is the story of how I got started in this unlikely series.

My father and I started racing at our local asphalt circle track, progressing year by year though the classes. After ten years, countless hours, blood, and sweat we started winding down our racing commitment. We were approaching exhaustion in regards to racing and wanted to tone down our schedule. The prospect of devoting 22 weekends and nearly that many weekdays to another season of racing was less and less appealing. As this reality was setting in, I read about the 24 hours of LeMons series in Sport Compact Car magazine. It sounded like an automotive adventure and the schedule was pretty sporadic, so we could still fulfill our racing desires while keeping our annual time commitment low. This sounded like a good fit, so we built a car. We drew on our experience and built what we were comfortable with, a GMC G-Body car. They are the entry level cars at the circle track and closely model the LeMons rules, with minor changes we could adapt a car and go endurance racing. We called a racing buddy who ran a junkyard and located a police impound Buick Regal as a base to begin with.

Follow to the next page to see how this POS was transformed from a police impound project into an endurance racecar.

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