Behind the scenes report from Todd Andrews, Superformance USA - www.superformance.org/supernews
Well, the Corvette Grand Sport adventure is finally starting to show the fruits of everyone's labor. I will admit that there have been a lot of challenges along the way. The factory has been under the gun for a couple of months to allow us to even have a chance to make the show. They were working up to 18 hour shifts to get the car done. Many hours were spent on the phone and internet exchanging info through the night with the factory guys.
A big thanks goes out to Jimmy Price, Mike Campbell and the guys that worked with him to complete this Corvette Grand Sport. We have been collaborating with a bunch of great guys from GM and they have been sending parts left-and-right to South Africa. At the eleventh hour, the factory managed to pull the rabbit out of their hat and we were able to arrange for air transportation to get the car here to allow GM to do their magic.
The whole airplane ride did not come without its fair share of excitement either. The factory had made arrangements for the car to leave the factory for a 10 hour ride to Johannesburg on the back of a semi-trailer. From there it was off to fly to New York where I would be waiting bright and early on a Friday morning to pick it up. The ride from my office in Michigan to New York would have been about 12 hours.
As I had made arrangements for a trailer and had everything lined up to leave on Thursday morning for New York, the plans had changed once again. Early on Thursday morning I was notified that the car was now on its way to Washington, D.C. I actually welcomed this news although it was conveyed to me after I had already started my trip. Fortunately the initial drive headed me along the same route. The DC trip would shave about 400 miles from each leg of my trip.
I arrived in Virginia about 8pm and settled into my hotel to get some rest so I'd be sure to arrive at the airport at 5am on Friday - which I did. Upon arrival at the office for South African Airlines the next morning I was notified that there was no record of the car on the designated flight. They began to check into it. I spent the next 2 hours pacing the floor like an expectant father. I was worried that the car was actually on the plane headed for New York.
They could neither confirm nor deny this was the case while I ran the scenarios through my head. After a couple of hours they confirmed that the car was indeed on the right plane and that they would have it to me in about an hour or so.
When we finally saw the car I got a lump in my throat. It was beautiful. Although, it had not made it across the pond unscathed. The driver's door had somehow been knocked out of alignment and would not shut. The car was pretty dirty and had obviously not been tied properly on the shipping skid. All in all, though, it was in pretty good shape considering what it had been through. Without the proper tools we were forced to tape the door to its jamb just to get the door shut enough to make the journey home without damage.
We found out later that the reason for the lack of presence on the manifest was the fact that the date of arrival was written for the day before. This created another cluster of problems when it came to releasing the car through Customs. Long story short, well kind of… We began our trip back home at about 11am. That was after 6 hours of waiting.
We started back on the road heading towards the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, MI. We were scheduled to have the car to them by 7am on Saturday morning, but I also had a commitment that I had to make by 7pm on Friday evening. We made it home in exactly 8 hours with the newest member of the Superformance family following me all the way.
We arrived at the GM Proving Grounds while it was still dark, around 7am. Let me just say, this place is awesome. It covers 2 square miles and is the home of one of the best test tracks in the world. Security at this place is incredible. We were escorted in with the Corvette Grand Sport in tow and taken to an area known as "Special Projects." They have a lot of very cool stuff in there.
We were met by a team of 5 guys headed up by their leader, Mike Copeland. After getting the car unloaded, we spent the next couple of hours going over what needed to be done on this end. The plan all along had been to showcase the Superformance Corvette Grand Sport as one of the halo models at SEMA to promote the GM Performance E-rod series of crate engines. In this case it was the LSA. This is the same engine used in the Cadillac CTS-V. It's one bad boy and yeah… It's Supercharged. HiTech had been sent an engine for mock-up work but now it was up to Mike and his crew to drop the real deal in on this side of the pond - and make it run.
When I say "Drop it in" I think that I should clarify that it was much more than that. These guys only had 4 days before this car needed to be on a truck heading for Vegas. I don't even know where to begin to try to explain what had to be done. These guys were amazing. Dave Cope from Hillbank had parts being shipped from various suppliers every day for 3 days and Mike's team kept installing them as we went along. I was there to help as much as possible, but usually found myself just trying to stay out of the way.
Lance Stander did all of the wheel homework and admitted that it was a nail biting exercise. When all of the hub adapters and wheels and tires arrived I spent the next 5 hours getting everything on the car to see if Lance's math worked. Everything fit like a glove. The car has 305/40/18's on the rear and 17's on the front. The wheels look awesome with torque thrust grey color centers and a polished lip.
The GM Team had to re-align the door, plumb the entire car for fuel, add a bung in the tank for a return line, run battery cables to the rear of the car, install the complete engine and transmission while also running all of the wiring for the controller, add a calibration, install mirrors, safety belts, wheel the paint on the entire car, install the rear tail lights...and the list goes on and on. These guys are true Craftsman.
The car had to ship out by 10am on Thursday morning (Oct. 28). I received a call from Mike Copeland at 10pm on Wednesday night to tell me that all was well. She was breathing fire. The Corvette Grand Sport was loaded on the transporter and headed for Vegas right on schedule. The famous, high-paid magicians performing in Vegas have nothing on this team.
I talked to Dr. Jamie Meyer on Thursday morning after we knew the car had left and he expressed to me how excited he was about this partnership. I would have found it hard to believe that anyone else could top my enthusiasm, but his just may have. This is going to be a great ride for all of us. It's great to be associated with the GM team. Dr. Meyer is looking forward to Tuesday morning at SEMA and so am I.