During the C6's illustrious eight-year production run, 28,176 Z06s—all bred as track-ready fighters—set a new standard for factory-issued, naturally aspirated Corvette performance.
Upon its introduction in 2006, Corvette's flagship Z was the cream of the crop. But what if you demand quicker than its official performance numbers of 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and 1,320 feet in 11.7 seconds at 125 mph? It's then time for a new reference standard—let's say, the "extreme of the crop."
"The first time I laid eyes on an '06 Z06, I was madly in love," Erik Bentley, the co-owner of Lashway Motorsports in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says. "The curves, power, and sounds were all a bit too much to handle for an aspiring Corvette enthusiast. The first time I drove one, all of those emotions…became a reality. Little did I know it would be several years before I would have the opportunity to own, drive, and modify a factory stocker into something unique and beautiful.
Early one morning in April 2012, Bentley decided to take a look at some Corvettes on an Internet auction site. "I typed ‘Corvette Z06' into the search bar, hit enter, and sat back with my cup of coffee. A few seconds passed, and a list of several Vettes populated on my screen. The first one on the list was a black '07, which was priced at $37,000."
The car, which was located at a dealership in North Carolina, was listed as "fast" and "ready to go," but the latter descriptor didn't turn out to be entirely accurate. "It had 77,000 miles on the odometer, which I found unusually high compared with other Vettes of that model year," says Bentley. "The dealer disclosed that the body needed a good wet sand and buff, and that it had been involved in a front-end collision with a deer earlier in its life. None of this mattered to me, though. It was a C6 Z06, I could afford it, and I bought it."
One week later, Bentley took delivery of the car. "The first thing I did was take it down the street, do some doughnuts, and test the 427-cube, 505-horsepower small-block under the hood," he says. "It lived up to every expectation I had."
But Bentley hadn't just bought his Corvette for personal pleasure: He also wanted to promote his flourishing performance shop. "The co-owner, Josh Isaacs, and I wanted to attract a higher level of clientele, and, of course, more Corvettes. In order to do that, we felt the Z had to show off a total package, which would include performance, great looks, and unique mods. We set out to create a streetable sports car that I could drive to work or the movies, and that felt equally at home on the dragstrip and road course."
Bentley was well prepared for the build, having spent years mentally planning a Corvette superbuild before he ever owned the Z.
First up was the engine. "I put our years of LSX performance expertise to work, and spared no expense when thinking about what parts to use," he says. "We have a great relationship with Texas Speed and Performance, so it was fitting that we utilized their parts on this vehicle."
To that end, Bentley installed a TS&P LS7S cam and a set of the company's Performance Racing Components (PRC) 265cc castings, along with a port-matched FAST 102mm intake manifold and complementary Nick Williams throttle body. To bolster the driveline for the additional power, he then swapped in a Monster Level 3 single-disc ceramic clutch and 18-pound billet-steel flywheel; outsourced Promotion Powertrain of Fort Lauderdale to fortify the six-speed gearbox's internals; and retired the main shafts in favor of bulletproof units from Lingenfelter Performance Engineering.
"The factory exhaust system also had to go," Bentley notes. Accordingly, a Stainless Works system, featuring long-tube headers and an S-tube exhaust (and augmented by a set of low-profile DMH cutouts) was bolted up. To clear the big, 2-inch primaries, he eliminated the stock transmission cooler and lines, and grafted a Moroso 41200 filtered cooler onto the subframe near the rear of the vehicle. "The Vette is loud and sounds nasty, and that's just the way we like it!" he reports.
In the first round of chassis-dyno testing, the custom-tuned Z produced 588 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque, but that was just the start. "I wanted a kick of spray, just in case I wanted to go nuts," Bentley says.
Enter Nitrous Express, which supplied its NX 102mm plate kit. Bentley installed the system in-line, between the throttle body and the intake manifold, adding carbon-fiber solenoids, a purge kit, and a lightweight (12-pound) composite bottle mounted in the hatch area. An NOS Progressive Controller rides herd on the setup.
Bentley says the most important part of the N02 system, however, is the Nitrous Outlet one-gallon fuel system, which pulls 116-octane race gas when the juice is activated, and blends it at a 1:1.5 ratio with the factory tank's 93-octane fuel before delivering the mix to the plate kit. "It allows us to run more timing than with regular 93 octane, and helps to eliminate any kind of lean spike normally associated with big nitrous hits like this. We set it to spray at WOT between 3,500-6,800 rpm," he says.