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Sibling rivalry doesn't have to be a negative thing. Sometimes, having that little bit of competition can spark inspiration that results in something great. Brenton Thiessen's family is filled with gearheads and racers and his older, Blaine, has an eight-second capablie LSX-swapped Isuzu P'up that can be found at the dragstrip every now and then. It wasn't going to be a matter of "if" Brenton was going to have a hot machine of his own, just a matter of "when". The itch to start building something nice and potent that could hang with the Isuzu really started to get bothersome after his fourteenth birthday.
"At first, I didn't know what to look for, so I went on Facebook Marketplace every day to look at vehicles. Sometime in 2018, I saw an old, beat-up white 1982 Corvette in a town about an hour away from us. My dad didn't like the car at first because of how much work it would need, but I really wanted it." The C3 Corvette's body was in one piece and the chassis was good, but the small-block it came with was a dead player, and the less said about the condition of the interior after several seasons of field mice occupation, the better. It took about a year for other projects to be completed before it was finally time for the Corvette to go into the shop for the big build.
The Corvette didn't start out as a peach...instead, it was drug out of a field, stripped down and given a good scrubbing before work really began.
Once the C3 was stripped down to the bare minimum, cleanup began. The small-block and pretty much all of the interior was gutted and quite a bit of scrubbing was done to get the interior cleaned up and suitable for use once more. The chassis received a fresh coating to protect it from the corrosive elements of the road and the body was sanded down for a few coats of red paint. A 350ci small-block that Brenton's father Brad had built was popped into the engine bay and the odds and ends that were needed to make the Corvette whole once more were sourced. The Corvette was completed in time for Brenton to take it out on Rocky Mountain Race Week in 2020, where he wound up with an average ET of 14.75 over the five days.
The Corvette would survive Race Week, but at his parents' anniversary shortly afterwards, the transmission decided that enough was enough and pretty much exploded. The fix was a manual transmission conversion...the remains of the automatic came out and a Muncie four-gear unit went in...but why stop there? The Corvette went under the knife again, with the 350 getting the lion's share of the love. The carburetor was ditched in favor of Holley EFI Throttle Body and Holley Dominator EFI. The fuel system was revamped front-to-back and a Holley EFI 7-inch digital dash replaced the stock gauges. And just in case that wasn't enough, a NOS Big Shot nitrous system good for a 150-horsepower shot was added.
After the cleanout, the Corvette was painted at home. "It was a tough choice, of what color to do. But when I remembered the song, "Little Red Corvette" by Prince, I knew that was the color that it needed to be," Thiessen said.
Recently, Thiessen brought his Corvette out to Bowling Green so that we could get a good look at the Rekudo brakes that he had installed, which fit beautifully behind the original-style 15-inch wheels. With all of the upgrades, the Corvette is now a reliable 13-second machine that looks good, sounds the part, and is able to stop on a dime. A Tremec five-speed conversion is next up on the menu, followed by a complete suspension revision.
Remember how we said that a little bit of rivalry can inspire greatness? A 13-second Corvette isn't going to have anything on an LSX-swapped truck built explicitly for the dragstrip, but on a road course, Brenton's Corvette is going to be a dream machine. It has enough power to pull away from the curves, enough brakes to keep things safe and sane, and anybody who has ran a great manual transmission on a road course knows that's a step closer to driving nirvana. Brenton isn't exactly following in his brother's footsteps, but he certainly followed the path for a proper driver's car that is worth all of the respect.
The transformation that Thiessen's Corvette has undergone is impressive. The latest mods are the Rekudo brakes, which fit well in the factory wheels. The sidepipes give the 350 a healthy bark, and the current instrumentation is considerably more accurate than the original gauge cluster ever was.