From classic hot rods to modern performance machines, customization is one of the biggest parts of building a unique car. But every once in awhile you come across a vehicle that is so custom, it goes beyond the norm of a traditional build. Ron Oyler’s C5 Corvette creation is such a vehicle. Check out this amazing “creation in the works” below!
We get dozens of feature vehicle submissions every year for Corvette Online, but very rarely do we get a submission like this. Owner and operator of The Laser Shop in Sonora, California, Oyler contacted us a few weeks back to share his custom Corvette with us in the hopes of our consideration for featuring it in the pages of our publication. One look at this COMPLETELY custom ’97 C5 Corvette and we immediately contacted him, wanting to know everything he’d share with us about his ride.
Having grown up near Fremont Drag Strip, Oyler took notice of the car scene at a young age. This interest quickly grew into a passion-fueled hobby, one that Oyler recalls set him up for plenty of polished, custom candied, and metal flake painted bicycles, and even some custom fiberglass fender work by the time Oyler was in his preteens.
Being surrounded by the car scene, Oyler quickly grew an affinity for Chevys, especially Corvettes. But, while the the Vette model was the ultimate dream car for Oyler as he grew up, he didn’t pick one up until many years later.
“I had hot rods and bikes all during my teens, my 20s and early 30s,” Oyler explained. “After that, all I did was work for another 20 years. I bought this Vette specifically to work on.”
A long time coming, Oyler finally obtained his dream Chevy in 2004, picking up the base of the ’97 C5 you see here for $14,000. But that’s about as standard as this Corvette’s story gets.
Customizing Every Aspect
From 2004 on, it’s been a whirlwind of customization for the Vette at the hands of Oyler himself. During the day, Oyler runs his mom and pop business, The Laser Shop (which does custom laser cutting for Tesla Motors and ididit), with his wife of 37 years, the evenings and occasional days off find him in the garage working on his custom creation. After over nine years in the works, Oyler thinks the Corvette might be complete sometime next year.
A skilled craftsman by trade, Oyler set out on this Corvette build journey knowing that he would be the prime resource for all of the car’s customization. But as the build went on and Oyler learned more, the project grew bigger and bigger.
“As my skills got better, the beast grew more and more,” Oyler told us. “The better I got at welding the more chassis mods I made. The better I got at machining the more engine parts I was able to make. It just kept getting more and more complex in all areas.”
What you see here is the culmination of undeniable passion, countless hours of work, nine years time, and having to save up for every single modification or customization that has been done to the car. And it truly shows!
“This Corvette is an accumulation of all my skills and ideas I have developed over my entire life,” Oyler explained. “I always knew I could build something like this, but I had to wait until I could afford it. I still have to save up for every part and it takes time, but I do get a lot of satisfaction with the finished products. My problem is that I never stop engineering, and I am working on finding balance with that because I do want it finished.”
The Rolling Chassis
Starting from the frame upwards, Oyler has modified just about every aspect of this Corvette. On the frame itself, the front rails were reworked and smoothed, in addition to the front of the frame being filled in and blended. The rear of the frame is all custom sheet metal with an integrated through-the-frame side exhaust outlet. To top it off, the chassis is painted in Hot Rod Flatz Twilight Black Metallic.
Along the sides, the Corvette features custom fiberglass wheel wells, perfect for fitting the polished 9.5 x 19-inch front and 12 x 20-inch rear C5 Z06 replica wheels Oyler chose for the car. These are wrapped in 275/30R19 and 335/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sports respectfully.
All of the Corvette’s floors have been filled with the rear compartment raised by a custom fiberglass piece. On top of the floors are ¼ X 4-inch steel seat mounts waiting for Oyler to get to building the custom interior, which is still in the design stages.
“[The] interior will be very custom with a lot of polished aluminum and carbon fiber,” Oyler explained.
For the suspension, Oyler has opted to keep with the traditional C5 setup with the addition of polished and anodized QA1 AlumaMatic coilovers, as well as black powder coated 350 lb springs, spherical bearings, and steel roller thrust bearings, all from QA1. The suspension also features polished and plated rod ends and C6 ZR1 swaybars.
Also traditional to the C5, Oyler’s ride makes use of the car’s stock steering, complimented by custom polished aluminum steering rack mounts and a polished finish. Brakes are yet to be decided, as Oyler is currently looking for the perfect big brake setup.
With several yards of carbon fiber cloth already bought, Oyler plans to make numerous custom modifications to the Corvette’s body, including custom flares. Oyler is also working on creating a custom one-piece tilt front end.
When all is said and done, the Corvette will be finished in a custom black paint scheme laid by Mark Cole at Sierra Auto Restorations.
Just like with the frame, body, and interior, the engine for Oyler’s Corvette is also extremely custom.
Built from a 1997 GM LS1 block, this bad boy has been decked, deburred and radiused, while the torque plate has been honed .005-inches over and the mains align honed.
The cylinder heads on top of the engine are ported Patriot CNC LQ9s that have been surfaced .005 inches. They feature hand-finished 80-grit cross-hatched intake ports, mirror polished exhaust ports, Manley stainless steel 2.08-inch intake valves, Manley stainless steel 1.60-inch exhaust valves, mirror polished valve faces, Super 7 locks, Viton seals, Patriot Dual Gold Extreme valve springs, Patriot Titanium retainers, ARP head bolts, and a Daves Machine five-angle valve job.
Giving the engine its spectacular lope is an Xtreme Energy XE-R hydraulic roller camshaft from COMP Cams.
For rotating parts, Oyler went with a 3.622-inch stroke crank turned .010 inches and micro polished, Clevite 77 rod and main bearings, ARP main studs, Mahle .005-inch over flat top forged pistons with -16cc CNC domes, Mahle ultra flat low drag iron rings hand-gapped for the engine’s turbocharger, and Eagle forged 6.125″ H-Beam rods with ARP rod bolts.
The whole rotating assembly has been balanced and blueprinted. COMP Pro Magnum chromoly full roller rockers, ARP rocker studs, COMP chromoly 7/16-inch pushrods, COMP steel pushrod guide plates, polished billet aluminum valve covers, and a Cometic MLS .066 head gasket top everything off.
The intake manifold is a custom sheet metal tunnel ram design fed by a custom carbon fiber and billet aluminum scoop. This, in addition to the throttle body (below), is Oyler’s favorite custom component on the car so far.
Feeding the engine with valuable fuel is a fully polished and anodized custom 105mm 6061 billet inline four-port throttle body that has been custom machined and is driven by a wire unit. Oyler has also incorporated a custom semi-direct methanol injection system with eight polished stainless steel 1.26 gallon per hour lines and stainless steel spring-loaded nozzles.
Helping the engine eliminate spent gas are custom 1.75-inch 321 Stainless Headers with half-inch flanges and Stainless Headers 321 stainless double slip three-inch merge collectors. All of this is ceramic coated inside from the flexpipe to the exhaust ports.
As if these performance modifications weren’t enough, Oyler equipped the engine with a Meziere Race LS1 electric water pump, twin 60-1 turbochargers with a polished Garret compressor and custom 6061 billet backplate, a Turbonetics water cooled journal center with 360 bearing kit, Turbonetics .70 T4 Undivided Turbine, P Trim housing, and a three-inch V-band.
Twin TiAL Sport WG 44 mm V-band wastegates with 8.70 PSI yellow springs and twin TiAL 50 mm V-Band BOV’s 10 PSI springs are the final touches to this system, as well as purple anodized AN fittings to match the other polished and anodized purple touches. And yes, all the machining and even the anodizing was done by Oyler.
Also in the performance spectrum is a fully custom rev kit, which, just like all of the rest of the Corvette’s custom components, Oyler designed and crafted himself.
Backing the mighty power plant is the car’s original 4L60E, which has been fully built with ARP flex plate bolts, a TransGo Stage 3 semi-manual shift kit, The Beast reaction shell, 5-pinion front and rear Planets, Raybestos 3-4 Z-Pack, Red Eagle clutch discs with full thickness Kolene steels, a 29-element BorgWarner forward input sprag, 13 Vane billet steel pump rotor, and Sonnax .490-inch boost valve.
The electronic automatic transmission was also equipped with a wide 2 5/8-inch Alto carbon fiber 2-4 band, rollerized reverse input drum, billet forward piston, Jet Billet fourth gear servo, Jet Billet Powr-Flo servo, 300M shafts and a Yank 3600 stall converter.
Having been in the transmission business in the 1980, Oyler is responsible for all of these gearbox upgrades.
Once the engine spins the custom 4L60E, the Corvette’s power is pushed through a carbon fiber-wrapped driveshaft with custom CNC-machined magnesium couplers. Power is then transferred to the car’s original yet modified Getag rearend, which features a fully deburred housing, 4.10 Motive gears, chrome axles and CV joints, and all new gaskets, seals, and bearings.
With this much customization, impressively all from Oyler’s two hands, this Corvette is truly one of the most unique and modified cars we’ve seen.
“So far, from what I have seen, this car is so much more over the top of any C5 out there,” Oyler told us.
“There are so many custom details that the short list is what is not custom made. It’s as much polished and finished on the bottom as many cars are on top. I think it well deserves recognition and I hope it will inspire more [people] to go old-school, all out customizing and not just pay for bolt-ons.”
As you can see, Oyler’s Corvette is not finished yet, but with his talent and dedication, we have no doubt that the finished custom product will be just as spectacular as components finished thus far.
We want to thank Oyler for sharing his creation in progress with us. To follow the rest of Oyler’s build or to get an even more in-depth look at some of the custom components Oyler has created for his car, be sure to follow his posts on LS1Tech.com. And don’t forget the massive Corvette Online Photo Gallery of all of Oyler’s work after the jump!