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A Big Boy's Toy

From Playing With Hot Wheels(TM) to Driving Seriously Hot Wheels!

Rob Wallace III Apr 1, 2004

Like most young boys, James Kingston of Temecula, California, was obsessed with cars as a child. And like most children who grow up to be Corvette fanatics, James was thoroughly impressed by the first 'glass sports car he ever saw--a late-model C3 Shark. From that time in the late '70s, he knew he must own a Corvette some day. In fact, his Hot Wheels(TM) collection did include six C3 Vettes! He also recalls how in 1983--at the ripe ol' age of 13--he used to always eye his neighbors' pair of early-'80s Sharks. One was black and the other white, and they were both beautiful to James.

During the rest of the '80s, while the C4 Corvettes ruled the American roads, James was hitting the books in high school and then at college. As the early '90s rolled through, James was just graduating from Cal State University Northridge with a degree in Mechanical Engineering along with a wife and a daughter. The need then arose to step up his mode of transportation from a four-banger econobox. This might seem like the perfect time to say that James went out and bought his first Corvette, but this story is a little more complicated than that.

Because of the economics of starting a new career and a young family, "my first instinct was to buy a Mustang," James admits. "It was a handsome car, and the wife liked it as well," he tells us. However, on a trip to the local Ford dealership to scope out the pony car offerings, "with the wife in tow," she spotted an Explorer that she just had to have. Thus, she became a pioneer of the SUV craze, and James saw his "exciting sports car ownership delayed indefinitely."

A few years later, James tried again to get a performance car--this time a new Camaro--since "the Corvettes still were beyond my meager salary and seemed unobtainable," James recalls. But James never got his Camaro, either. "By the time 1999 came around (and nearing the big three-oh), I found myself in the middle of a divorce and a mid-life crisis." In many ways, this was a new beginning for James. With starting a new, higher-paying job in 2000 and still searching for "a way to console my mid-life crisis," James rediscovered his lust for a Corvette--now that he could actually afford one!

James took his first steps towards joining the ranks of Corvette ownership in the spring of 2000 when he began shopping the dealership lots to get acquainted with the C5s. "Being used to an underpowered, weight-penalized SUV," he was utterly shocked on his first test drive by the "awesome" power that a stock '99 coupe had. By the time James had decided that a Sebring Silver coupe was the perfect car for him, the '01 Corvettes were introduced--and so was the Z06. When he heard about the extra power that the new Z06 had to offer, James quickly changed his mind--opting for the 385hp fixed roof '01 Z06. Since Sebring Silver was discontinued after 2000 and the other colors offered on the Z06 all seemed too "ordinary" to James, he was adamant that his dream car would be Millennium Yellow. But due to the high demand for Millennium Yellow cars and the limited runs Bowling Green was making in that color, James ended up waiting 10 agonizing months for his new toy to finally be delivered. He brought his new baby home on August 27, 2001.

It was only a couple weeks later that James began attending local club meetings, and in no time flat, he was busy personalizing his Corvette. "I always strive to make my car a little different," says James, "as I like to be a little different from other people." He began by applying a medium tint to the windows, and then bought a chrome-plated, billet aluminum exhaust plate etched with the Z06 emblem. Since the fixed antenna mast that came standard on the hardtop seemed to break up the lines of the car, James installed a GM factory electric antenna that the convertible C5s have. Next, James had his factory '01 forged Z06 rims chromed, lowered his Vette for an even more aggressive stance, and installed Altec mudguards (painted Millennium Yellow to match) to protect against stones being tossed back by the front tires. Speed bumps then posed a rather daunting challenge, but James didn't mind. He also added CORVETTE lettering to the rear fascia and front brake duct screens to complete the simple-yet-singular look of his Z06.

Inside the cockpit, James chucked the stock six-speed shifter in favor of a very tight Hurst short-throw. The Hurst shifter still felt too high and had too long a throw for James' taste--so he shortened the stick by an inch for an all-business feel. A yellow and black short shift boot and shift knob from Vette Essentials livened up the solid-black interior. This setup lead on to interior decals from CAU LLC, yellow leather door trim, yellow piping around the console, and a "minor upgrade to the stereo"--consisting of twin 10-inch 800-watt Sony subwoofers powered by a 1,200-watt Rockford Fosgate amp!

After driving the Z06 for a few months, "I slowly acclimated myself to the gobs of power available in my car in the stock condition." However, it only took five short months before he knew he needed even more power. After all, the '02 Z06s came from the factory with 20 additional horses over his "obsolete" '01...but no measly 20 hp would satisfy James! He began investigating various alternative power-adders, and after a year-and-a-half of researching the pros and cons of each, he finally decided that twin turbos were the way to go. "I wanted a twin-turbo system because it out-torqued all the other options, and it was cool to look at under the hood. I also wanted to be different from the general Corvette crowd that was predominantly installing superchargers." Thus, James linked up with the folks at Xtreme Motorsports ( in Tempe, Arizona, to install one of their first Xtreme/TTI (Turbo Technology) Stage 1 Twin-Turbo systems on his LS6.

In late August 2003, he drove the Z06 to Arizona to drop it off at the Xtreme shop for its conversion and hopped on a plane home. The Xtreme Stage 1 kit included custom T28 turbochargers capable of spooling up to 7 psi, along with ceramic-coated custom-cast iron manifolds, ceramic-coated T304 stainless-steel down pipes and intake ducting, HKS Super Sequential blow-off valves, and a pair of intercoolers that are wedged up into the nose behind the corner marker lamps where they can get fresh air from the grille openings. James' car has also been upgraded with an L.P.E. in-tank fuel pump, NKG TR6 spark plugs, and 42lb injectors. At the same time, he had Xtreme powdercoat the intake tubes yellow and install an Auto Meter A-pillar gauge pod with cobalt fuel and boost pressure gauges. "I flew back three weeks later to pick up my car, and it was a beautiful thing. I drove the car home the same day, testing out the massive amount of torque from time to time [Ed. Note: We'd guess all 330 or so miles back to SoCal!] and watching my mirrors for those reds and blues. It seemed like a whole new car!"

Since then, James had the Z06's red plastic fuel-rail covers custom-painted Millennium Yellow and boasting of the "whistles" down below. He has also returned to Xtreme to have the intake tubes stripped of their powdercoating "because the yellow didn't quite match the rest of the car; I knew this ahead of time but didn't have the foresight," says James. Xtreme also ground-down the original welds and repainted the tubes to match the rest of the car in show-winning fashion. "Xtreme has definitely done an awesome job on the install and has gone beyond what is necessary for an installer/integrator to take care of my Corvette and myself," he continues.

Yes, James is certainly enjoying his second childhood. He's involved in numerous events with his local club, Millennium Corvettes of Southern California, where he's now the Vice President and also one of the youngest members at age 33. Among the many events and shows he's attended, James has come home with Third Place awards from the San Diego Plastic Fantastic Car Show in both 2002 and 2003, Second Place at the California Classic in 2002 and a First there in 2003, and Best in Class at the 2003 Cruisin' for a Cure in Orange County, California. But first and foremost, this brutish-yet-civilized pavement masher is a daily driver! Yessir, James has definitely grown into his big boy's toy--a real set of hot wheels!

The Real World
When we met up with James and his Xtreme/TTI twin turbocharged '01 Z06, James was thrilled by the seat-of-the-pants performance from his Vette, but he had no hard and fast numbers on the power it was making. Since Team VETTE is always interested in new developments in the Corvette market, we were curious to see what kind of power his Xtreme Z06 was making. James was quite willing to drive the Z06 60 miles up to the Primedia Tech Center where it was strapped down to our in-ground Dynojet chassis dynamometer, and we then put its power to the test.

Xtreme Motorsports claims that their Stage 1 Twin-Turbo system is capable of producing 530 bhp and 575 btq, which are pretty substantial assertions. In three runs on our Dynojet, where we only went up to 5,500 rpm. We measured 459.36 rwhp and an impressive 509.66 rear-wheel lb-ft of torque. Assuming a 15-percent loss through the drivetrain, that calculates out to be 540-bhp and 599-btq at the flywheel from a very streetable LS6! We are duly impressed!


The Tech Center Manager, Jason Scudellari, examines the readouts after making a third run on the Dynojet. James' Xtreme Stage 1 twin turbo'd Z06 made a fantastic 459 hp and 509 lb-ft torque at the rear wheels!


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