Mallett Performance Has Created Some Truly Remarkable Corvettes (and other vehicles too!)
If you are familiar with Corvettes, then it is likely you are familiar with Mallett Performance. Even if you’re new to the Corvette lifestyle, you likely saw images of a 2001 Mallett Hammer Corvette Z06 being lifted from a chasm after the car (along with seven others) had been swallowed whole by the infamous National Corvette Museum sinkhole that opened up in its rotunda in February 2014. Sadly, that car was beyond repair (and recognition) when it was recovered. Prior to that tragic event however, the car had been a healthy-and-powerful 597 horsepower beast. The car had been donated to the Museum by Kevin and Linda Helmintoller with the intent that the car might serve as a fixture on the NCM track still under development at that time.
While the destruction of that car was a loss for the National Corvette Museum and the Corvette community at large, it led us to ponder the origins of the 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06, and to share the story-behind-the-story of the company that breathed life into that amazing machine.
Mallett Cars Ltd. was founded in 1997 by 27-year racing veterans Chuck and Lance Mallett, along with long time associate David Sarafian. The company, which began in a shop located in Berea, Ohio, became a leading innovator of performance products intended to transform production Corvettes into the fastest, highest-quality signature-series C5 Corvettes available anywhere on the planet.
The Mallett brothers grew up in a family of race drivers. Their father and uncles actively participated in Ford factory-sponsored racing events throughout the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. By the time the boys were in their early twenties, they decided to open their own body shop, one that specialized in custom paint work and high-end vehicle restorations. Thanks to their commitment and the support of their family, Mallet Incorporated grew to become a massive success.
Mallet Incorporated worked as consultants for Chevrolet’s racing division throughout the mid-1980’s. They competed in the Corvette Challenge Series and serviced clients who competed in the Trans-Am and World Challenge Series, as well as NASCAR Winston Cup Series events. Their outstanding chassis design, tuning and vehicle construction saw their cars competing in a variety of major endurance events, including the Daytona 24, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Mosport, and the 24 Hours at Mid-Ohio.
In the 1990’s, the company shifted its focus from professional racing to building purpose-built, race-quality specialty and competition vehicles including a Twin-Turbo Corvette R1, a Corvette GTP Grand Sport, and a 1967 Camaro which was named Hot Road Magazine’s “Hot Rod of the Year” in 1996. When the C5 Corvette was introduced in 1997, they began developing product offerings that would boost the car’s already robust performance. Mallett Cars Ltd. was founded in 1997 by Chueck and Lance Mallet and was specially formed for that purpose. The newly formed company focused on building custom parts and modifications for the fifth-generation Corvette, which became known as the “Mallett 435” conversion. Once completed, the modified Mallett 435 C5 Corvette could outperform the Dodge Viper, the Porsche 911 Turbo, and Chevrolet’s legendary ZR1 Corvette.
It was during this era that I had the opportunity to work with some of the members of Mallett Cars Ltd. I had been employed at Merrick Chevrolet in Berea, Ohio at the time and Chuck Mallett would occasionally come into the dealership for parts for the Corvettes he was working on. While some of the stuff they purchased was straight, off-the-shelf GM hardware, it was clear the cars they were building were anything but. Little did I know then that I’d cross paths with their cars time and again at Corvette events and at the National Corvette Museum…but I get ahead of myself.
In 2001, Kevin and Linda Helmintoller commissioned Mallett Cars Ltd. to transform their Z06 Corvette into a Mallett Corvette (Mallett serial #009). The couple drove the car for several years before donating the car to the National Corvette Museum on December 2, 2013. Their intention behind the donation was to help attract people to the Museum and to allow the car to serve a training vehicle at the new NCM Motorsports Park.
The Helmintoller’s 2001 Mallett Corvette produced 700 horsepower at the flywheel and was capable of running the quarter mile in just 10.6 seconds at a speed of 128 mph. The car had just 16,000 miles on the clock when the couple donated it to the Corvette Museum. The car was displayed in the museum’s rotunda and was still on display there when, on February 12, 2014, a sinkhole opened up and wallowed the car, along with seven other one-of-a-kind Corvettes. Tragically, it was one of the first to go into the hole, one of the last to be recovered, an was probably the most devastated model of all the cars that fell into the sinkhole on that fateful day.
Chuck and Lance Mallett visited the Corvette’s remains after the car was recovered from the sinkhole. Chuck was pleased to discover that the roll cage, which had been welded into place by his brother Lance, was still intact. While the devastation to the car was massive, it demonstrated the commitment to the quality of work these brothers put into their cars.
In the late 1990’s, Chuck Mallett moved “Mallett Performance Cars” from Ohio to the heart of race country – Charlotte, North Carolina. Chuck Mallett continued to run his company, and to work closely with General Motors. His decades long experience with the Chevy Corvette made him a subject matter expert on these cars, and many of his Corvettes (and other builds) would be showcased at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The company became known as a leader in late model GM tuning with a variety of conversion offerings. They offered Mallett Corvette conversions on the 5th and 6th generation models, as well as conversion kits for the Cadillac CTS_V, Camaros (2012+), the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, and on Chevrolet SUV and truck platforms.
Although the company suffered a period of financial hardship during the economic collapse of the American automotive industry in the late 2000’s, Mallett Performance continues to operate today, building a variety of superchargers and other mild-to-wild modifications for Chevrolet cars and trucks. While their immediate focus appears to have shifted away from the Corvette, they’ve continued to develop custom superchargers for the Silverado, Colorado and Camaro lines. They’ve won awards from GM and SEMA for the custom retro builds, and in 2020, they decided to take on Lamborghini, bolstering the performance of the breathtaking Lamborghini Huracan.
So now, if you happen upon a Mallett Corvette, you’ll know that you’ve stumbled upon something special….and in the words of the legendary Paul Harvey, “now you know the rest of the story.”