IT executive Greg Lotko builds his own Corvette engine
By Rob Reilly
“Intoxicating” and “fabulous” are a couple of the words proud owner Greg Lotko uses to describe his new ride: the new Corvette 427 Convertible Collector Edition equipped with the 60th Anniversary Design Package for 2013 and Callaway Cars’ 652 HP, supercharged version of the 427 Convertible’s 7.0 liter LS7 small block V8.
The state-of-the-art American super-car is a far cry from Lotko’s ancient, relatively tame 1972 Chevelle Super Sport (with a 350 CI small block, M21 Muncie 4-speed and posi rear axle)...his first car. He’d found nothing else, before his new Corvette, that gave him the seat-of-the-pants feel of the old Chevelle. (He still occasionally drives it, and changes the oil himself.)
Wanting a totally unique car, Lotko chose the $5,800 Corvette Engine Build Experience, which he completed before Callaway worked their magic. Although pricey, the custom engine (with unique personalized nameplate) blended with all the other top-of-the-line options to support the legacy of the car. Lotko imagined that 50 or 100 years hence, his machine could be a “real” collector car, perhaps sold at one of the big auctions.
Originally, he planned to buy a red 2012 model. A paint availability issue held up his order long enough that the 2013 models were already in the works. So he took the plunge.
Finding time to travel to Michigan for the build was tough, considering Lotko’s worldwide travel schedule as an IT executive. GM worked diligently to accommodate his schedule.
In contrast to the mostly cosmetic bodywork—plus carburetor, intake and headers replacement—on his SS, which he bought used in 1980, the Corvette build used all new parts. Expert GM technician Don Henley meticulously oversaw the operation. Lotko put together everything from the rotating assembly, pistons and cam up through the heads and top-end components. He had never opened up the Chevelle’s bottom-end, so assembling the Corvette mill himself brought his hot-rodding education full-circle. He even pushed the starter button to fire the engine for the very first time.
Now that he’s at the pinnacle of the American super-car mountain, what’s next for Lotko?
He completed the Level 1 Corvette Performance Driving School course in July of 2011 and Level 2 last April. He’s planning to go back for another round next May. And since collector car insurance requires that all drivers in the household have a vehicle and insurance of their own, he’ll probably hand the Chevelle down to his soon-to-be-driving-age kids—perhaps even share some life lessons by helping them build cool first cars.
“Most people don't take care of their first car, if it’s a beater,” he explains. “By having a cool first car, you’ll likely take better care of it.” Certainly something to think about if his kids ever get behind the wheel of his fire-breathing Corvette.
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Rob Reilly is a media and technology writer who’s been an automotive enthusiast and hot rodder for nearly 40 years.