Reputations can be bought. Throw enough bucks into a slick ad campaign, hire top-flight PR flacks, and bribe those journalists who are bribable (not that we know any) and you too can have a worldwide reputation as a genius, raconteur, and lothario. You'll be invited to great parties, date anorexic actresses, and be named one of the "Sexiest People Alive" by a celebrity magazine. But deep down, you'll know that you really suck.
John Lingenfelter didn't buy his reputation. His company, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE), barely takes out any ads at all. The guy in charge of his PR has been known to sweep the floors and screw together cylinder heads. He's impressed journalists by consistently delivering to road tests vehicles that deliver overwhelming, absolutely verifiable and utterly reliable performance. He earned his reputation with countless hours in the dyno room, a winning record on the dragstrip, and a forthright, self-deprecating manner that under-promises and over- delivers. But we've never thought of him as a raconteur or a lothario, never seen him at a great party or with an anorexic of any sort, and doubt that celebrity magazines even know who he is. Deep down, we all know he's a genius.
Most of the engines Lingenfelter built his reputation on have been naturally aspirated, small-block Chevy V-8s. Lingenfelter's finely honed, precisely assembled 383 stroker L98 and LT1 crate motors are still among the giddiest upgrades a C4 Corvette owner can make to his car. His 383ci and 427ci reworks of the C5's LS1 are thundering legends too. But now that Lingenfelter has embraced forced induction, the merely ludicrous acceleration of his previous efforts can now be exaggerated into pure science fiction. The C5 seen here, with twin turbos wheezing into a 7.0L (427.6--so you could round up to 428 if you like--cubic inches in old Corvette-speak) LS1, ripped off a mondo bizarro 8.95-second elapsed time at 154 mph, according to LPE. That's on street tires ... in the rain ... towing a horse trailer ... and fueled by Crisco.
OK, but the "street tires" part is true (Mickey Thompson E.T. Street 26x11.5-16 "cheater" slicks which are--swear to God--DOT approved). And it's the sort of performance that matches up perfectly with the claimed 1,100hp output.
Basically, the engine is an even more intense version of LPE's "regular" 750hp twin-turbo 427. That engine is built around a GM Performance Parts LS1-like aluminum block designed for use in the C5-R Corvette endurance racer. Into that are inserted 4.125-inch-bore sleeves and a custom 4.00-inch-stroke 4340 chrome-moly crank. That's an eighth-inch smaller bore diameter than the classic big-block 427 V-8, and almost a quarter-inch-longer stroke. The pistons are forged aluminum and ride on billet-steel connecting rods. LPE shoves a GT2 hydraulic roller camshaft into the block that then controls the oversize one-piece stainless steel intake and Inconel alloy one-piece exhaust valves in the LPE sweetened and shaped, Z06 Corvette, LS6 heads. As impressive as the bottom end is, it's the pressurized top end that brings glamour--and several hundred additional horsepower--to the engine. Two Garrett GT28 ball-bearing turbos are the wheezing leads in the turbo system, pressurizing the system with between 14 and 20 pounds of heave, depending on fuel quality. The turbos mount to custom cast exhaust manifolds, breathe in through two K&N conical filters, and exhale through twin air-to-air intercoolers before hitting the port-matched LS6 intake manifold.
To leave the engine's description at that is to seriously understate the content of LPE's work. There are custom silicone air ducts to make sure the engine is swallowing heaping gulps of atmosphere, heat shields to ensure nothing gets cooked, high-performance valvesprings, specific gaskets, matched fuel injectors, and the rotating assembly is computer balanced. This is a thoroughly engineered powertrain from intake to the GHL stainless steel exhaust system. It isn't a system you bolt on in your backyard; it's a $49,995 package (it's another $2,595 to reinforce the transmission of automatic-equipped C5s) that comes fully installed from LPE's facility in somewhat picturesque Decatur, Indiana. LPE's confidence in its workmanship is reflected in the two-year, 24,000-mile warranty that comes with the conversion.
Bigger GT30 turbos and a twist of the variable boost controller had the 427 knocking out more than 800 hp when Motor Trend took this car and audaciously ran it against one of the U.S. Navy's Boeing F/A-18 fighter bombers. The MT test reported back that the blown 427 is "remarkably smooth at idle, is quieter than a stock Z06 on the cruise, and passes the sniffer at the local (Texas) smog station. In street trim, generating solid acceleration numbers proved fruitless as the Lingenvette would smoke its 345/30ZR19 rear tires past 100 mph." Yeah, but at least those tires looked good on their HRE wheels.
Despite a wishy-washy 1,800-rpm launch on the Mickey Thompsons, the 427 pounced to a 9.58-second elapsed time in MT's first run, then topped itself with a 9.24 blast at 150.27 mph in the second. That's good enough, if you could find a time machine large enough to contain a Corvette, to completely dominate the first field of NHRA Pro Stockers in 1970. Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins set the elapsed-time record back then, and it was a fairly limp (in comparison to this LPE street Corvette) 9.98 at 139.53 mph. And MT measured a 0-60 time of just 1.97 seconds for the Corvette as well. In other words, you couldn't read this sentence in less time than it took for the LPE Corvette to hit 60 mph for Motor Trend. In LPE's own testing, the car ran an 8.95 at 153.7 mph.
When the turbos aren't whooshing in torrents of boost, the 427 is as easygoing as the LT1 in a Caprice cab. Hit the boost, though, and you're crushed back into your seat so that every individual vertebra in your neck feels it. It's the sort of acceleration that has you reflexively tightening your abdominal muscles to keep the contents of your stomach from being explosively shot through your lower intestine. Turbo lag? Sure, there's turbo lag. This isn't a low-pressure system intended to add a few ponies to your Volvo sedan's straight five; this is a high-yield tactical weapon. This is a 48-ounce magic wand as swung by Barry Bonds.
Continents have been tamed with fewer horses and the course of rivers changed with less torque.
But if way too much is good, even more has to be better. So this fixed-roof C5 made its way back to Decatur where the heads were swapped for a pair from a C5-R and the boost was tripped up to a vein-popping 20 pounds. That's enough, says LPE, to produce 1,100 hp and 950 lb-ft of peak torque while swilling high-octane racing fuel. Continents have been tamed with fewer horses and the course of rivers changed with less torque.
In that configuration, this Corvette has the '73 Pro Stock field covered. There might be some street car somewhere that's quicker than this beast, but it probably isn't as civilized or lacking in temperament as this one. And there are definitely much more expensive machines that are much, much less quick.
Go to Google on the Internet and type in "Lingenfelter" alongside the name of any automotive magazine and you'll harvest a crop of accolades unlike any other tuners. LPE didn't pay us to say it, and it didn't pay them to say it.