Although the winter season means no racing and rarely driving your performance car here in Colorado, Dragon Pro Street Engineering, a performance shop located on the western outskirts of Denver in the town of Golden, is changing the idea of a miserable winter into an exciting time to modify cars for the good weather to come. But this isn’t just your ordinary performance shop. Owned by Peter “Dragon” Cochetas, the shop takes performance modifying to a whole new level - one that creates record setting performance vehicles. Recently, we were lucky enough to get a tour of the amazing facility.
In the Beginning…
The appeal of performance cars for Cochetas came early in his life. “When there are barely used Playboys over here, and overly used parts catalogs over there, that’s when you know you’re a car guy,” Cochetas told us, motioning from side to side. “I used to love flipping through those catalogs and just dreaming up builds.”
Starting out as a Volkswagen fan and then a Porsche guy, Cochetas remembers going to test drive a Corvette just for fun years ago. After realizing that Corvettes were faster than Porsches, Cochetas was hooked, even using some of his college student loan money to buy his first Vette. The rest is history, as they say. After Cochetas went to school for Mechanical Engineering with the goal to start his own performance shop, he opened Dragon Pro Street Engineering in 2001 in a 2,800 square-foot facility. “I hated engineering school as it was,” said Cochetas, pointing to boredom in college as his inspiration to open the shop.
Since 2001, Dragon has moved to a state-of-the-art facility, spanning over 10,000 square-feet and including a professional paint booth, Mustang Dynamometer, and eight lifts.
LS and Beyond
As possibly the largest performance facility in Colorado and surrounding states, Dragon is the one-stop-shop for modifying LS-based vehicles. With Dragon’s stellar reputation in the community, customers bring Cochetas and his crew all kinds of toys to improve and modify, and ultimately make faster. Although Dragon specializes in Corvettes, specifically modifying drivelines, they have the expertise to work on and modify all makes and models. It’s not uncommon to find F-bodies, Corvettes, Cadillacs, Mustangs and even a Mopar or two in the shop at the same time.
When we arrived to Dragon, we were greeted by a 2003 434 cubic inch twin-turbocharged Legendary Edition Corvette in the front lobby. The Legendary Edition is a conversion package for Corvettes created by Cochetas which includes either a supercharged or turbocharged engine, suspension and brake upgrades, special wheels and tires, and custom interior and exterior design cues. All Legendary Edition Corvettes make over 900 horsepower. The one that sits in the lobby is especially unique. It is the first Legendary Edition created, laid down 1,121 horsepower on the dyno at 15 PSI, and has only 985 miles on it. Talk about one impressive piece of machinery…
Back in the shop, we found even more incredible machines being created. In the first bay, Cochetas’ personal ’06 Corvette sat torn apart in preparation for its future engine build - an LSX 427 cubic inch twin-turbocharged powerhouse with a goal of pushing 1,500 rear wheel horsepower. The Corvette, which has had just about every modification done to it in its life, sports an airbrushed paint job that took over 260 hours of work to create. According to Cochetas, the Corvette should be an 8-second car by the time he’s done with it, and let me remind you, the local drag strip here is at 5,880 feet above sea level.
Next to Cochetas’ Corvette sat a ‘62 Corvette, complete with an LS7 conversion, Tremec T-56 transmission and a C4 Corvette suspension specially fabricated to fit under the C1. Down a couple bays sat yet another Corvette - the silver C5 up on a lift turned out to be a Z06 modified by Dragon with a larger camshaft, supercharger, custom intercooler, clutch, coilovers, and new wheels and rubber.
Corvettes and Sleepers
Hidden among all the Y-bodies was a ‘96 Impala that sat in the last shop bay. It wasn’t on our radar until we took a look under the hood, and boy were we surprised. The car was equipped with a supercharged 434 LS conversion that sported the biggest pulley Dragon could fit on the engine. After blowing up the stock transmission with the new engine after only 30 miles, the Impala was back in the shop for a built 4L80E transmission swap.
A major part of Dragon’s success is their immense presence in the automotive community. “We support a lot of local shows,” Cochetas said. “We also send money and advertising to a lot of national shows.” Obviously their presence is working, because Dragon remains busy with modifications constantly. “I know when we go to car shows, we stand out,” Cochetas told us. “It’s all about promoting.”
Promoting isn’t everything, however. Maintaining a high performance shop as busy as Dragon is is also about excellent customer service. “I always ask if the customer loves their car and give them the option to walk out and not spend anymore money with me,” Cochetas explained. “If a car becomes a personal statement, it is worth spending money on, will fulfill the owner, and it’s fun to work on for us. If not, it’s sort of a waste.”
Plans for the Future
You can see why Dragon has such a great reputation. Not only does the facility offer top performance modifications, state-of-the-art equipment and the knowledge to back up every build, they also give their customers the most tailored options for their performance modifications, including the option to completely change their mind.
While Dragon resides in Colorado now, you could be seeing the Dragon name closer to home a few years down the line. “I would like to have a year-round R&D shop,” Cochetas said, hoping to turn his business into a franchise of modification shops with the headquarters some place warm like Southern California.
It was an amazing opportunity to get to check out Dragon Pro Street Engineering’s facility. Thanks goes to Cochetas and his shop crew for allowing us the ultimate access to the shop.