My wife noticed what she termed a “miss” in our 2007 Z06 Corvette. My 69-year-old, hearing-aid equipped ears did not pick up what she heard from the cockpit. I raised the hood and was appalled. Our 427 C.I.D. LS7 engine was, indeed, emitting an unholy clatter that I could easily hear with the hood up and the engine hot.

I learned from browsing Corvette Forum posts that this clatter was a classic symptom of bad valve guides. I also read horror stories there by people who had miserable repair experiences using mechanics who did more damage than good…even at Chevrolet dealerships.

I had no clue as to whom I could trust to put “Big Red” back into shape. I consulted with friends to find a reputable shop. One trusted friend referred me to a principal of a Corvette shop in Louisville, KY, now- retired but who still does work on Corvettes. Upon calling this man, I learned he enjoys the older “BCE” (Before Confounding Electronics) models but doesn’t take on later-model computerized Corvettes. When asked whom he would recommend that I might trust to do my repairs properly, he immediately suggested I call Brenton Brown at Forza Tuning & Performance. He said Brenton was one and possibly the best of technicians who worked for his Louisville shop. Brenton had gone on to open his own shop, and was fortuitously located just a few miles from me in Georgetown, IN.

I searched for and found Brenton’s web site and left him a message there Saturday afternoon. About 9 PM that Saturday evening I received a call from Brenton Brown himself. We discussed my symptoms; he confirmed it was almost certain to be badly worn valve guides, and he further advised that I should not even crank that LS7 engine over because I’d risk destroying the engine if a valve head decided to drop. That was when I knew I had dodged a bullet; I took his advice.

Over the next few days we corresponded by email and texting to finalize the details of when and how he would have our Z06 hauled into his shop and complete repairs. I generated a multi-page email detailing other upgrades and maintenance items I wanted done (the machine had 36,000 miles on it). Brenton called me at his first opportunity, and we went through every item. He was quite professional, and very practical about some of my requests. He had ample opportunity to “fleece” me on some items, but never made an attempt. He in fact asked about my use of the car and driving habits and, when told I was mostly a highway cruiser, advised against spending money for porting the heads and upgrading valves and springs. He explained that such modifications would certainly improve the performance but would degrade the drivability, giving me an overall decrease in my enjoyment of the car and making any extra expenditure for them a waste of resources. The man knows his business, and pays attention to details that affect his customer.

I stressed to Brenton that I did not want repairs on this car hurried, and that it would be “in and out” of his shop on his schedule. I did that because I wanted the job done right the first time. I got exactly what I expected.

Brenton had Big Red picked up by a professional auto transporter who knew exactly what he was doing and understood the special features of the Z06.

Brenton pulled the heads and verified that my problem was, indeed, badly worn valve guides. He explained to me the repairs he would perform, and recommended that I upgrade from stock roller- bearing rocker arms to bronze-bushed rocker arms. I accepted that recommendation. The heads were sent to a machine shop in Louisville for the rebuild including new hardened-steel valve guides. The stock rocker arms were shipped to California for rework and installation of the bronze bushings.

I had Brenton flush the entire braking system. I asked that he install all new belts and all new silicone rubber hoses. He also changed the differential fluid, transmission fluid, flushed the cooling system and installed new engine coolant. After the rebuilt heads went on with new Maserati-type sparkplugs, there was of course new engine oil and a new engine oil filter. In short, he inspected and serviced our seven- year-old Big Red Z06 from one end to the other, putting it in the finest condition it had been for a few years.

The last thing I asked of Brenton was that he put Big Red across his dynamometer after the repairs. I wanted to get a reading on what horsepower was actually hitting the ground. His dynamometer said she’s digging with 444 HP at the rear wheels. Maybe some folks need more than that; I surely don’t. 444HP is scary enough, and she will do zero-to- sixty in 3.7 seconds as advertised.

Now that she’s back on the road after Brenton’s expert ministrations, the car is faster and quieter than she’s ever been, and is a joy to drive on a road trip. Brenton was exactly right to advise me to repair that LS7 back to a near-stock condition.

When I was given the opportunity to make good on my offer to Brenton to recommend Forza Tuning & Performance as the place to take your performance machine, I had to choose between writing a short recommendation and telling my story. I chose the latter because, as Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, “Everything must be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” If you are looking at expensive repairs to an already valuable machine, you need to know that you are dealing with a man who loves these machines, knows and understands these machines, and will listen to what you say. He will then give you the best job for your dollar that you can get.

I recommend Brenton Brown’s Forza Tuning & Performance without reservation, and I will use his services exclusively.