Many of the car features that you have read here were found by digging around at car shows and racing events to find who owns the best of the best. Sometimes, we luck out by finding a fan, and other times its takes a little explaining about who we are and what we’d like to do with them and their prized Corvette.
This car was one of the lucky ones that we are able to feature, thanks to connecting with our sponsors and other folks within the industry. Scott Feldon of Denver, North Carolina, is the proud owner of this 1972 Chevrolet Corvette, called the Black Mamba, in addition to some other gorgeous cars.
A True Passion
While the car is an interesting story in and of itself, we also love to talk about Corvettes in terms of a life-long passion, and how an individual generated such a connection with America’ sports car. In this case, Scott had a number of things to say, as he has been a true Corvette fanatic for nearly his entire life.
Scott was happy to explain that Corvettes have been a life-long love for him. “I have been an avid enthusiast since I was 12 or 13 years old. My father was very much into the hobby throughout the 1970s, and was a long-time president of the Ventura County Corvette Club, in Southern California. My father also bought and sold Corvettes to make a living for many years. He raced his ’63 split window in all the area events in Southern California and of course I was by his side taking it all in.”
He continued, “My first ever car was a 1963 split window coupe that my dad helped me buy for $800 when I was only 14 years old. It was a stripped down ex-drag racing car, built with a full race setup. By the time I was 16, I had an interior and transmission in the car, but it still lacked an engine and rearend. Like most impatient 16 year olds, I opted to sell the car so I could start driving my own car immediately – a decision I still regret to this day. I bought my next Corvette at the age of 22 and have had at least one Corvette in my garage ever since. I have had dozens of ‘Vettes over the years, but never managed to find another split window.”
Scott is also the proud owner of a 1967 convertible, and a 1965 coupe, just to name a few, which he drives leisurely and takes to several car shows each year. He explained, “I got the bug to autocross again after 20 years out of the game. At the time, I owned two mid-year roadsters, and I auto crossed them for the first year and a half, as I was getting back in to the hobby. While everyone loved to see the old cars compete, they really couldn’t be competitive without cutting the fenders to accommodate a larger tire and wheel package. As a lifelong Corvette enthusiast, I could not bring myself to modify a quality mid-year like those two were.
So, Scott knew that he needed something he could modify, and build into a highly-competitive autocross car. He didn’t want to start cutting up his C2s, and we thank him for that. He said, “I looked up the best in the business, and asked Danny Popp to help me. With his help, I built a clone of his nationally known blue ’72 Corvette.” Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and when somebody has already figured out what works and what doesn’t work, it behooves you to try and improve upon what they have – especially in the world of motorsports.
As we mentioned, this car was built with one thing in mind, high-performance. Appropriately, the list of racing-oriented parts is fairly extensive, though each part contributes something crucial to the build.
Starting out a little more than a year ago, Scott’s good friend Bill “The Professor” Graves located this 1972 Corvette near Lake Wylie, South Carolina, for $11,000 on Craigslist. Fortunately, Bill found the ad the day it was posted, and upon a quick inspection, the car was bought. Scott mentioned, “It fit the bill with the large fender flares and was the exact C3 platform we needed for our clone project of the ’72 that Danny tours the country in.”
To begin with, the guys knew that some serious chassis modifications were in order. The car was taken down to the frame to both ensure the factory GM frame was still sound and to tab, gusset, and brace the areas that needed additional support, rigidity, and new mounting positions. This initial stage of work was completed by Utz Fab, a fabrication shop local to Scott near his North Carolina home.
The front and rear suspension are products from Vansteel, whom also manufactures the control arms and sway bars used on this ’72. To maintain firm and consistent handling, JRI custom coil-overs were selected for their ability to alter ride-height and handling conditions hydraulically. A Borgeson Quick Box was selected to aid in whipping this ‘Vette throughout the cones.
When Scott decided he was getting back into autocross, he knew he wanted to be competitive. Driver aside, there are certainly a lot of elements that go into building a winning car, but you certainly won’t be finding yourself in the winner’s circle without reliable a horsepower, and a lot of it. The motor is not exactly period-correct, in fact none of it is. He chose the Chevy Performance 525ci crate engine as the foundation, and further modified it from there.
While the rotating assemblies and internals all remain, the heads were resurfaced by Gable Machine, along with a Coms Camps Trunion upgrade, and a LS Z06 batwing oil pan. The ignition is also courtesy of GM, and exhaust gasses are ran through Hooker headers and custom exhaust. After some tuning by True Dyno, this combination produced 527 hp at the flywheel.
Moving all that power to the ground, is a Silver Sport Transmissions TKO 600 RR gearbox, drive shafts, and custom aluminum half shafts. Hurst provides the leverage to make quick gear changes, and GM provided the heavy-duty, positraction rearend that Scott can outfit with 1:3.55, 1:3.90, and 1:4.11 gears depending on the course he’ll be running.
The body is relatively factory, though he solicited the help of the Auto Crafters in his home town to add the signature L88 fender flares and rear spoiler. A front air dam was also added to redirect some airflow, and the body was then coated in black PPG paint. The seats are Butler Built, with the five-point restraints from Auto Crafters. Autometer instruments fill the dash locations, and Wilson Avionics wrapped up the build with any custom wiring and plumbing needs.
A great chassis, and a lot of horsepower are certainly crucial elements to building a high-performing race car, but if you can’t maintain traction with the tarmac and settle your car down in a hurry, it was all for not.
Appropriately, Scott’s C3 has been fitted with a complete Wilwood braking system to bring all 3,200 pounds to a screeching halt. Wilwood was also chosen for its clutch master and slave cylinders. As far as traction is concerned, Scott is currently using BFGoodrich Rival S 315/30/18 in front, and 335/30/18 in the rear. The most important aspects of selecting a wheel for racing is strength and light weight. That being said, there is no reason to not look your best, so a set of 18×11 and 18×12-inch Forgelines are now bolted to the car.
Remarkably, this car was built in only about eight months, having been completed in July, 2015. Scott said the car’s name is “Mamba” which it earned through internet voting. For those curious about what a project like this would cost you to to build, it’s just shy of $50,000.
Anyone that has built or modified a vehicle can attest to the fact that some rather interesting things can happen when you tear into a car and subsequently begin putting it back together with an array of different parts. For Scott it was no different, he explained, “This was my first experience with fuel injection and LS motors in general, everything was by trial and error. Aside from that, the wiring and cold air intake, were the most challenging tasks to build. If I were to have done anything different, it would have been to include lightweight aluminum drive shafts built for the car.”
Scott mentioned that the driving experience of the car has completely changed in regards to handling characteristics and road-feel. “The car drives like it is on rails now,” he said. “The challenge of competing in autocross is always about any mechanical advantage you can gain compared to your competition. This helps with my lack of driving skill.”
The C3 is still pretty new to to Scott, but he was happy to report that he earned two first place finishes at his first session runs in the CAM class at SCCA events. He also mentioned that he is affiliated with the Plastic Cars of Statesville, North Carolina organization, and said, “I do drive the ’72 to an occasional cruise, but for the most part I save it for the competition driving of USCA, Goodguys, and SCCA events.
Feldon also wanted to extend an extra-special thanks to the those that helped make this build come to fruition: Danny Popp, Rick Wilson, Bill Graves, Tom Welsh, and Jack Silver. Additionally, he mentioned that, “Popp has been very instrumental in the building of the car, including setting up the chassis, alignment, and balancing of the car.”
Lastly, we asked Scott if he had any parting words for us. For many of us, he is really enjoying a Corvette Lifestyle as we all hope to continue doing. Scott left us by saying, “I’m just an old guy trying to relive the fun days of my youth again, with my favorite car of all time … the Corvette.”