“Ain’t No Saint”: Tony St. John’s Vortech Supercharged C5 Corvette

You might expect a Corvette owned by a guy named Anthony Saint John to be a quiet, humble, and modest ride that doesn’t look to make much of a commotion. However, as I found out one cool winter morning in central Texas, this devilish black C5 Corvette doesn’t quite live up to its owner’s name.

It’s raw. It’s loud. It’s extremely violent.

The Heart of a Z06

St. John’s beastly black Corvette is a 2000 model coupe that came from the factory with a 6-speed manual and black leather. Even though it isn’t actually a Z06, the black coupe has got a nasty trick up its sleeve. Under the hood lurks a GM Performance Parts LS6 crate engine with an aftermarket cam that boasts 238/242 degrees of duration. The cam gives the Vette a pretty malicious idle, but underneath all that chunk-a-chunk you can make out another, far more sinister sound – the distinct whine of a supercharger.

The last time I had it dyno’ed it made 642 rear wheel horsepower…

One look under the hood, and your fears are confirmed, as a Vortech V1 T-Trim ominously juts out from the front of the engine. The big Vortech force feeds the LS6 through an A&A front mount intercooler set up, while a Walbro 255 fuel pump and 60 pound-per-hour injectors keep enough fuel flowing to match the boost. More air in means more exhaust needs to get out, and a set of Stainless Works 1-7/8-inch primary long tube headers team up with a full 3-inch exhaust and Billy Boat Route 66 Mufflers to get the job done. The rumbling idle, the whine of the supercharger, and the barely quelled exhaust note combine to create a fearsome mechanical symphony that would make even the most gutsy Mustang Cobra run and hide. St. John reports, “The last time I had it dyno’ed it made 642 rear wheel horsepower on a DynoJet. But I had a bigger pulley on it then, so I’m expecting that it’s more now with the smaller pulley.”

It Only Counts If You Can Use It…

To handle that amount of brute force, St. John equipped the Corvette with a tough RPM Stage 5 transmission, and kept it a 6-speed manual. No doubt about it, it also takes a stout clutch to stand up to that kind of power. St. John tells us, “I’m running a SPEC Stage 3+ single disc ceramic clutch. I’ve had the same one for three years now, and I’ve never had an issue. It’s still taking a beating and that’s why I’ve always run SPEC clutches in all my cars.”

On the chassis side of things, the car rides on C6 Z06 struts, and stiffer C5 Z06 transverse leaf springs, while solid motor and trans mounts from Pfadt keep the driveline from moving around under the stress of the supercharged LS6. The car rolls on 19×9.5 and 20×10.5 forged one-piece Imola wheels, wrapped in Bridgestone 760 Sports in 245/35/19 and 285/30/20 sizes. Baer cross drilled and slotted rotors in stock C5 sizes team up with Hawk HPS pads to bring those big rollers to a stop. A set of stationary Depo projector headlights, and a matte finish carbon fiber targa top, that St. John laid by hand himself, round out the visual updates.

At the drag strip, St. John tells us that the best time he’s ever been able to manage was a 10.78 at 133 miles per hour, with a 1.71 60 foot time. As you’ve no doubt already guessed, the Vette has massive traction issues trying to get off the line. “That best time was with some old, scraggly, bald drag radials my buddy had laying around his shop that we bolted up. I figured they would still work way better than my 20-inch street tires though,” he says with a laugh.

This car is not nice; it is a cold blooded killer that wants to eat you alive…

When You Least Expect It…

When St. John took me for a spin down the highway in the black beast, I didn’t know quite what to expect. We cruised down the highway for a few miles at the 70 MPH speed limit, and I actually found myself lulled into a state of calm by the Corvette. I was just thinking how nice the car drove considering all the modifications it had done to it, when out of nowhere St. John dropped down a gear and aggressively smashed the pedal to the floor. The instant he dropped the hammer I was rudely re-awakened to the fact that this car is not nice; it is a cold blooded killer that wants to eat you alive.

Instantly I felt the rear end of the car lose traction. It wasn’t just a little chirp or a squeal from the Bridgestones, but more like the back end of the car was pissed off at the front end of the car for not getting out of the way fast enough, and was trying with all its might to pass it. When the car finally regained traction I was treated to a forceful push back in my seat like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Admittedly, I’ve never ridden in a 10 second car before, and this was even my first time to ride in a supercharged LS powered car. But it’s safe to say that St. John’s beastly black C5 has made a believer out of me.

About the author

Clifton Klaverweiden

Clifton has been a car fanatic since his late teens, when he started the restoration of his '67 Camaro. He considers himself a student of automotive science and technology, and particularly loves all things LSX. And, although he has an appreciation for everything, from imports to exotics, his true passion will always be for GM musclecars.
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