Marco’s 1964 C2 Corvette Is A Potent Powerhouse

If you are walking around a car show in the West Palm Beach, Florida area chances are you’ll run into Marco Lanza and his radically modified 1964 Corvette. It may not hit you at first, but the body lines of this mid year ‘Vette aren’t the same as other iterations of the same year cruising the streets.

Some of us can only dream about building something unique, but this Wellington, Florida resident has accomplished that exact goal. No stranger to building kit cars, and having restored numerous vehicles, he laid out plans for his newly acquired ’64 that, in his words, started out as a “basket case.”

Getting the iconic Grand Sport treatment really sets off the look of this stunning C2. It resonates perfectly with the exaggerated fender flares.

Never satisfied with the factory design of a vehicle, Marco set out to make his ideal street car. The build spanned over 10 years and sucked up more than 2,000 hours, which included a host of aftermarket goodies crammed into the car: numerous suspension upgrades, the addition of a 8.2-liter Ram Jet engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and over 600 hours dedicated to body work alone. The result was a perfect balance of oldie design with modern drivability, a car you can hop into anytime and cruise up and down the coast.

Growing up, Marco was hooked on cars at an early age — he was the kid who stacked up boxes of model cars and proceeded to mix and match parts between them.

His drive and passion to make things bigger and better resulted in many kit and project cars in his home garage over the years. Some included a Porsche 911, Lotus Super 7 (which he built completely by hand), a fully restored Mallock MK11, four Autodynamics Deserters, and other rare and exotic cars. If you haven’t looked up some of these cars, you should, you won’t regret what pops up in Google images.

“I own a Cobra replica equipped with a 427ci side oiler, that I built and have enjoyed for the past 25 years, and I’ve also owned a multitude of modern and classic sports cars. When I set out to build the Corvette as my next project car I wanted something that combined the attitude of the Cobra with the livability of a modern car,” explained Marco.

He continued, “I wanted all the amenities that newer cars provide; power windows, air conditioning, power mirrors, and drivability. I also needed to have a car that woke up everyone [in the neighborhood] at the turn of a key, a monster on the streets, and a stunner at the car shows.”

I wanted the car to look like it went to the gym and pumped lots of iron. The modified body lines happen to trick lots of people into thinking that it left the production line that way. – Marco Lanza

Marco ended up going with a 502ci Ram Jet because he said it was the biggest baddest available crate motor Chevrolet Performance had to offer at the time. The project kicked off with fitting all the integral engine components, suspension, and custom wheels attached to the bare chassis of this ’64. The motor rested snugly between the frame rails and was coupled to a rugged Tranzilla Tremec Magnum T-56 six-speed from Rockland Standard Gear.

The 502ci Ram Jet was the natural choses for Marco’s ‘Vette, resulting in a torquey and nimble street demon.

The powerplant is a 9.6:1 compression engine pumping out an impressive 502 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque. It has a performance upgrade from Arizona Speed and Marine. The pre-tuned marine MEFI Version 4 engine management system allowed Marco to drop the crate motor in and not worry about issues when it came time turn the key for the first time. A set of Hedman Headers with 2-inch primaries transitions into  3-inch Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers, resulting in an intimidating exhaust note.

The chassis was also fitted with a Guldstrand five-link rearend with a set of upgraded Denny’s Drive Shafts half-shafts. Bilstein shocks where then added to all four corners. That was a drastic improvement over the factory trailing arm design. The front suspension also received a full makeover. A set of custom modified lower arms and adjustable upper arms from SPC Performance, both with solid bushings, were added.

This ‘Vette finally became a roller after the addition of SSBC power disc brakes that are visible behind a set of 17-inch American Racing Torque Thrust wheels wrapped in Nitto NT05 tires to grip the pavement.

The underside of Marco’s C2 is as flawless and meticulously engineered as the rest of the vehicle. Enlisting the best suspension components available for the C2 chassis allows this ‘Vette to carve corners with ease.

The C2’s fiber-glass body was then slowly lowered on top of the rolling chassis. Everything that came in contact with the body was cut away. Marco then set out to design the new body panels. He paid special attention to the front and rear fenders by exaggerating the body lines.

The fiberglass hood was massaged in order to comfortably fit the engine and prevent any contact with the Ram Jet intake–a manifold that stands 11 inches tall. Cutting out the factory floorpan was the next body modification that was executed. This was a requirement to make room for the larger T-56 transmission and 3.5-inch driveshaft.

“I wanted the car to look like it went to the gym and pumped lots of iron. The modified body lines happen to trick lots of people into thinking that it left the production line that way,” explained Marco. We would have to agree, he seems to have accomplished just that with the killer exaggerated fender lines.

Cutting weight was achieved by removing both bumpers and stripping the headlight mechanisms. The addition of custom-fabricated carbon side moldings and fiberglass body panels were graphed onto the original body. The floor pan was custom-molded from composite material and also helped to drop the C2’s curb weight to around 2,700 pounds. This is 650 pounds lighter than a base production model C2 resulting in an outrageous power-to-weight ratio.

“Most of today’s youth say they really appreciate the Corvette, and are not used to the larger cubic-inch motors; most are shocked to hear the 8.2-liter engine under the hood,” explains Marco.

“While the older crowd at car shows are bewildered by other aspects of the car, I’ve often been asked if the trunk access door to the new 22 gallon fuel cell is a factory option.”

The chassis and suspension was sent out for powder-coating prior to being reunited with the body. It received a skim coating of filler to blend composite components. Following that, a set of power side mirrors from a Buick was added for a modern touch. The body then received a silver stripe laid on top of Glasurit Ford GT Tungsten paint giving this C2 a look true to its heritage.

To shed weight further, the interior panels, including portions of the dash, were replaced with carbon fiber. The cockpit was also meticulously updated and lightened. The addition of a Vintage Air AC unit was a must in order to keep up with the modern theme. Corbeau seats wrapped in custom leather, along with Porsche carpeting, helped bring a contemporary feel to the interior.

With so many exterior details being reworked it was only natural to incorporate a healthy amount of carbon fiber on the interior. The added Corbeau seats and Porsche carpeting facilitate the sporty and luxurious feel that Marco was looking for.

My passion for cars developed as a kid and translated to an even more in-depth love of building cars as time went on. I actually built my first kit car from scratch when I was 18 years old.

Among other fabrication details, a full custom roll cage was integrated into the seam-welded frame making this ‘Vette safe, as well as remarkable.

The prowess that Marco exemplified while building his dream Corvette is evident in the visual presentation and its functionality. If you’re in the West Palm Beach area, and you happen upon Marco’s ‘Vette at a local car show or while taking a mid-day cruise, chances are you’ll be able to appreciate this flawless piece of automotive art.

Tell us what you think of this modified Corvette. What would you do differently? Tell us in the comments below!

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About the author

Justen Spencer

Justen is a Ford modular motor fanatic with seven years of professional drag racing experience, and multiple championship seasons in NMCA West and PSCA. Originally from Las Vegas, he is the proud owner of four Mustangs, one that sees regular track time. When not racing, Justen can be found in the garage maintaining his championship-winning car.
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