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$63,000 stereo system wins contest for car

The audio system in Sean Morrison's 1987 Corvette is louder than a jet plane, a racing car in high gear or a motorcycle revving up. At $63,000, the system costs almost as much as the average Pinellas County home.

Last weekend Morrison took his souped-up 'Vette to Tampa Stadium where it out-boomed 254 other sound systems to claim best of show honors at the stadium's first Auto Sound Challenge.

Morrison, a 30-year-old entrepreneur who owns Car Tunes at 1140 East Bay Drive, said the car was built to show and shock. With all the extras, its value is now in excess of $91,000.

"It's outrageous, advanced and expensive," he said. "It's just ridiculous the kinds of things we did."

For starters, the entire suspension of the car was rebuilt with the help of General Motors' engineers to accommodate the extra 2,800 pounds the Corvette would carry. Two additional batteries were added under the car's hood. The wire that connects the batteries to the amplifiers was changed to a type that is as big around as a quarter.

Forty-two speakers are in the doors and throughout the car. Nine amplifiers are under the seat and behind the passenger seats. The car also contains an 8mm VCR and TV in the glove compartment. Morrison likes to show Top Gun.

"The people over in Tampa last weekend were calling us Top Gun," Morrison said.

In Tampa Stadium last Saturday, Morrison's sound system registered 146 decibels.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, rock concerts traditionally register 110 decibels, motorcycles 90, and racing cars 125.

Also according to Guinness, "prolonged noise above 150 decibels will cause immediate and permanent deafness."

Dr. Charles Dykstra, a Clearwater ear, nose and throat specialist, said "146 decibels could damage nearly anyone's ears. However, some people are more susceptible to noise than others."

Roger Gellel, a resident of Willowbrook Condominiums, lives next to Car Tunes, where Morrison built and keeps his masterpiece.

"Before he built over there, we went over and had him over here," Gellel said. "He said the bass would be facing away from us and he told us he would keep it as quiet as possible."

Gellel said sometimes noise filters through the $10,000 worth of trees and shrubbery Morrison put in between Willowbrook and Car Tunes but that usually the booms are from the car of a customer "who can't wait to try out his new equipment. It does irritate a lot of people."

Gellel and Willowbrook resident Betty Waters said Morrison "is a nice young man."

"We have a good relationship with him," Gellel said.

Ms. Waters said she was proud he won the contest.

Although there was no money attached to last Saturday's win, Morrison said he will enter his Corvette in a similar contest in Athens, Ga., next month that offers a $25,000 prize.

What would he do with the prize money should it come his way?"

"Put it back into the car," Morrison said. "You can always upgrade."