Inside Drive With The Chevrolet Corvette Brilliante Convertible
Oftentimes, it is called a Ferrari. At least that is the story for this 1986 Chevrolet Corvette Brilliante Convertible, according to owner Glenn Barres. Sure enough, the heart of this Ferrari tribute car is an American sports car, and perhaps the most proportioned and attractive version of the C4 Gen Vettes on the road.
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1986 Chevrolet Corvette Brilliante Convertible
Oftentimes, it has been called a Ferrari.
At least that is the story for this 1986 Chevrolet Corvette Brilliante Convertible, according to owner Glenn Barres. Sure enough, the heart of this Ferrari tribute car is an American sports car, and perhaps the most proportioned and attractive version of the C4 Gen Vettes on the road.
With only 53,139 original miles, Barres has owned this Scarlett swinger for only four months and still takes it out on pleasure cruises, whether to shows or weekend getaways at the beach. Residing in El Jobean, Florida, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, Barres took out his American prancing horse for yet another weekend drive, eager to offer the world many surprises.
It would be hard to imagine any car enthusiast not to think it is a Testarossa at first glance, for every corner of the Corvette Brilliante has much of a story to tell. According to Glenn Barres, his car was converted to Ferrari Testarossa looking at Classic International in California.
Even Road & Track provided coverage of a similar Corvette Brilliante, with another owner claiming that about ten C4 Corvettes were converted by the same company. In the expansion of that report, Silvestro cites a Carscoops review with an additional Brilliante owner verifying these generation Corvettes were converted in the late 80s.
Taking these history scoops into account, all eyes were first on its exterior profile, starting with the side strakes, with gaps so noticeable and aligned to the finest of detail. Even the rear taillights are a spitting image of a mid 80’s Testarossa, the kind of car that brings out one’s inner undercover vice detective itching for a patrol around Florida’s metropolitan or attract a date for a couple of martinis. Its flip-up headlights give off a sleek profile, a throwback to the bubblegum glamour and glitter of the 80’s.
According to Barres’ measurements, the body width measures 73.5 inches, the front track at 75 inches and the rear track at 75.5 inches, with the front tire size 275/40/ ZR 17 and the front rim measuring 10w x 17h. As for the rear tire size, 315/35ZR/17 rim size 12w x 17h. Everything else, Barres said, is pretty much the same except for Bilstein shocks and close ratio steering box, and some minor performance enhancers.
The black soft top was among other originalities that were retained on the Brilliante, providing continual and feasible storage in the hard boot top compartment without flaw, handy for those unpredictable rainy days in preserving the spirit of driving.
Entering the Brilliante can be like finding a needle in a haystack when finding the door handles, but once the pearly gates open, a world of car heaven can be seen in the form of Ferrari-inspired 80’s styleage. Like Ringling Museum art displays, a Ferrari steering wheel with the logo can be seen, including the “Testarossa” insignia mounted onto the glove compartment. Leg room was good for both driver and passenger, built for the roadster journey to the nearest car show, cruise-in, five-star restaurant, or anywhere that says fun all over. And what better way to add comfort to those moments than with cold-blowing and functional air conditioning to combat the evening humidity?
What not to overlook is the four-speed automatic gear shifter, which some Ferrari fans may find a bit of a surprise. Nonetheless, this is the original automatic console shifter, well maintained and smoothly operable, a prelude to a day of a test drive.
While the Brilliante is identified as a Ferrari tribute car, it remains a living, breathing American sports car. Shared by Barres via private messenger, from the Corvette spec site corvsport.com, this Corvette model houses a 5.7 litre/350 cubic-inch V8 that can generate 230 horsepower at 4,000 rpm.
With Barres at the wheel, the Brilliante took off like Detective Sonny Crockett pursuing a Porsche 906 Carrera on the Miami streets, controlled with steadfast hands while absorbing the pleasuring sounds of wheel spin in Gear D. It averages 0-30 mph in 2.4 seconds, including 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. For a stock Corvette, it may not take off as fast as its other C4 counterparts like the Grand Sport, its pickup is nonetheless a demon on wheels. Watch yourself Speed Racer.
With permission granted from Barres, driving duties were swapped for a brief stint, using muscle memory to take note of the Brilliante’s cornering and manoeuvrability at low speeds. What this particular Vette demands of its pilot is a conservative approach, from the effort needed to turn the steering wheel to the finesse changing of the gears, to the slight push of the accelerator because this Brilliante is more tail happy beyond imagination. For a car that is 36 years old, with four newly installed tires, it is especially a ride that means the world to its owner and primary wheelman, that it comes home in one piece.
Soon, the mind and body are one with the machine. After about three to four pace laps, with conservative handling and a finessed right foot, the Brilliante goes into a steady motion in Gear D, able to manoeuvre past yard debris of sticks and pinecones in a rural area in Port Charlotte caused by Ian’s wrath in Florida’s Suncoast. Coming up on a stop sign, the front and rear power disc brakes were more than in operating condition, they all work like a charm, as the pleasure ride draws to a close in the back to Glenn Barres the owner, reuniting with his pride and joy alongside his little K9 companion, Buddy.
The Corvette Brilliante is perhaps more than a body kit car, which probably is because of how much work was put into making it represent a whole new way of life for cars like it. For this custom roadster, it is the personification of hot excitement in the motoring world.
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