You see a lot of advertisements for upgraded air-intake systems claiming various boosts in horsepower. These are mostly bolt-on replacement systems, ranging in price from around $200 to $1,000. What’s the deal? Are the hp claims valid, and what should I have to pay for something that works and is reasonably high quality?
I have an ’08 convertible Z51 with the factory NPP performance exhaust. It runs well, but I would be interested in a tweak. What else would you recommend that I can do in my own garage?
We’ve evaluated quite a few air-intake, or “cold air,” systems over the years, and virtually every one has added a measurable quantum of horsepower when A/B tested on a chassis dynamometer. Like the C5 before it, the C6 responds especially well to this sort of upgrade, likely because the stock air-intake tract narrows down significantly as it passes over the radiator, reducing airflow in the process.
There are several excellent systems on the market, most of which feature a larger filter element that seals to the radiator shroud and draws in cooler air from the high-pressure area at the nose of the car. Note that because the amount of air inducted is proportional to the speed at which the car is moving, the full benefits aren’t always apparent on a dyno, where airflow across the nose is minimal. Nevertheless, we’ve seen lightly modified LS-powered Vettes gain as much as 19.5 rwhp from a well-designed air-intake setup alone.
As for easy complementary mods, consider a custom, vehicle-specific PCM tune performed on a chassis dyno. While it can’t be done in your garage (unless you own your own dyno, that is), it is the single most effective performance improvement you can make without opening up the engine or bolting on a power adder. Just make sure you use a shop that has extensive experience with late-model performance tuning. Optimizing parameters such as spark timing and air/fuel ratio can vastly improve the output and even the efficiency of your Corvette, but the potential repercussions of a poorly executed tune are too awful to contemplate.
I just read your articles on proper finish care (“Tech Corner,” Sep. and Oct. ’13), and I wanted to pass along some info concerning washing and drying a Corvette.
For years, I have used my yard blower to get 95 percent of the water off before finishing with a towel. This method allows you to remove water from the mirrors, taillights, wheels, and other areas that are otherwise hard to access. It’s quick and easy, and it eliminates some of the rubbing that can cause scratches over time. Just think about an automatic car wash: When you drive through, it uses air to remove most of the water.
Hilton Head, SC
Calling All Garages
You may remember Rick and Lisa Turnbull from our Dec. ’11 feature article “Grand Scheme,” which highlighted the couple’s incredible 1,000hp C5 convertible. When the Turnbulls recently relocated from chilly Minnesota to sun-baked South Florida, they took the opportunity to build their Corvette “dream garage,” a dual-door, 1,500-square-foot structure with central A/C, bathroom, pool table, air compressor, 55-inch flat-screen TV (with surround sound, natch), washer/dryer, and much more. We were so impressed with this Vette-themed “Garage Mahal,” we decided to share a couple of photos with you here. (Did we mention they’re in the process of adding two- and four-post lifts?)
Do you have an impressive Corvette garage you’d like to show off in VETTE? If so, just send a brief description and a few high-res images to us at the address shown below. We’ll choose some of our favorites over the next several months and spotlight them here in “Front Lines.” And who knows? This could even become a regular feature.
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