Twin-Turbo 1995 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 - Night Rider

Take One Black '95 ZR1, Add Two Turbos, and Shake Vigorously

Jerry Heasley Aug 24, 2007 0 Comment(s)
Corp_0603_01_z 1995_corvette_ZR1_twin_turbo Raining 1/9

Just like a ghost story told over a campfire, there is a tale told among hot rodders and car enthusiasts of a lone highway sheriff on graveyard patrol. As he nodded off to sleep behind an off-ramp marker, the digital indicator on his radar gun flashed mysteriously from 0 to 150, then instantaneously back to 0. There was no sign of a passing vehicle, no headlights, and no rear taillights. the officer counted it up to a glitch in the radar gun and continued his on-duty nap.

The next week, the officer's schedule landed him on the identical shift. At 2 a.m., once again the radar gun flickered "150 mph" on the screen and then back to zero; still, no lights and no visible signs of a passing vehicle. This continued on for a month, each time at the same early hour. The officer had the gun double-checked for electrical shorts, and even replaced the unit in the squad car.

Finally, on a hunch, the officer waited one night with the hopes of the anomaly occurring again. When the time neared, he radioed ahead to another officer several miles down the highway to pull out into the road with his lights on. Almost immediately, the radar gun flashed, and the officer punched the gas, tearing up rooster tails behind him in hot pursuit. When the officer reached his makeshift roadblock, he found a midnight black Corvette with tinted windows skidding to a stop before slamming into the waiting patrolcar. The infamous driver was smuggling illegal narcotics from state to state without the lights on, utilizing a pair of military night vision goggles for navigation.

We don't know if this story is true, and by no means are we saying that T. Wayne Hale uses his '95 ZR1 for any clandestine purposes, but we have to think his blacked-out, twin-turbo Vette with all of its 585 rear-wheel horsepower could quite easily handle the job of a midnight run.

Wayne is rather the supercar aficionado with a collection of Corvettes and other big-block monsters, including a '66 396 Chevelle and a '02 GTS Viper. This Chattanooga, Tennessee, resident is all about American muscle, and if there ever was a car that had potential written all over it, it was the ZR1.

The overhead cam engine was the performance prototype for what would become the advanced Northstar engine found in Cadillac sedans for most of that decade. The final year of the ZR1 raised the bar with a straight-from-the-factory 405 horses. The move was a last hurrah before the cammer engine was mothballed.

Since Wayne isn't one to idly let things be, he chose to pick up this black-on-red '95 coupe to see what she really could do. A grueling 14-month process would open up the power capabilities of the ZR1 without actually opening up the internals of the engine! Enlisting the skills of South Georgia Corvette's Aaron Scott, the ultimate bolt-on project was undertaken.

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Since there has been only a reported seven twin turbo LT5s built-four by Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE), two by Callaway, and one by Mallett-the difficulty and time required to engineer, program, and trouble-shoot the LT5, adding turbos to an already stout ZR1 is considered taboo by many. LPE successfully built four twin turbo ZR1s. Wayne wanted one bad, but finding one of the LPE cars would prove almost impossible. Rather, he opted to build his own. Aaron happily accepted the challenge before realizing what he had gotten himself into. With the assistance of James Thagard, a mechanical engineering professor from Florida State University, the ZR1 became their crusade.

The obscenely tight fit of the dual power adders was almost the end of the project. the project stumbled a few times before it picked up momentum. After more than a year of labor and testing in the car, Jim Smith of Daytona Beach, Florida, came to SGC, burning seven days straight reprogramming the computer to acknowledge the transition from vacuum to boost (which was seamless when completed), thus eliminating any and all turbo lag. a gap between initial acceleration and applied boost is forced into the induction system causing a sensation of immediate gains in acceleration.

The final program was achieved with the assistance of Graham Behan of LPE. His expertise with the LT5 programming was tantamount to the success of the ZR1's programming. With dual Garrett turbos, the ZR1 maintains superior drivability, while able to dip into a massive reserve of power to readily boil the rear tires with the slightest of touches to the gas pedal. The final dyno testing of the black '95 revealed gains through the roof with 585 rear-wheel horsepower and 540 lb-ft of torque with only seven pounds of boost force-feeding the totally stock engine. Wayne and Aaron nearly fell over themselves with the prospect of 900 rear horses if they dare to break into the ZR1 engine with an increase in boost.

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