Sometimes when you miss buying a Corvette that you really want to own, the immediate pain can almost be overwhelming. Usually that feeling is replaced with glee when you run across an even better car at a better price. I am sure all of us have had these circumstances occur over and over in search of the ever-elusive Corvette of our dreams.
That situation happened to Dwight Eickmeier of New York, New York, the owner of this killer '90 ZR-1. He purchased the original-paint Corvette in 2002 after having lost out on a sale of a low-mile '85 coupe to another buyer. Dwight says the ZR-1 has always been his dream car, and he promised himself one day he would own one. The car was in pristine condition when he located it in a sports-car showroom in Kitchener, Ontario. After about 5 minutes of looking at the car, he knew he had to buy it right then and there! Due to the inclement weather at the time, he had them store it in their showroom for two months until the weather turned nice enough for him to drive it home.
In the fall of 2002, Dwight delivered the car to Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE) in Decatur, Indiana, for the LPE 368 cid package-all he could afford at the time. After the conversion, the engine dyno'd 540 hp at the crank and ran well, at least for the time being.
At the '03 NCM Gathering in Bowling Green, Dwight got his first ride in a stroker ZR-1. This ZR-1 Corvette was running 415 cid and suddenly his 540hp ZR-1 felt slow. He was afraid he'd regret it forever, but he decided to upgrade to the 415 cid LT5 over his 368 cid motor.
Also at this event, Dwight met Marc Haibeck (www.zr1specialist.com), who is well respected for his top-end modifications to the LT5. After discussing the possibilities with Dwight, Marc was game to get more into the stroker LT5 builds. He had already completed one stroker engine and had gotten some excellent results. Marc was able to take the ZR-1 and start the transformation immediately. Tom Cress at LPE helped Dwight and Marc by locating some of the essential pieces to build the motor; the most important part was the stroker crankshaft and cams. LPE and Marc have a good working relationship and consult to this day regarding LT5 details. Dwight says both tuners are top-shelf professionals.
Dwight's engine build opted for oversized valves, maximum porting on the heads, as well as porting the injector housings and the plenum (removal of the bifurcation for increased airflow). The fuel injectors were upgraded to RC Engineering injectors to handle the extra horsepower. The new cams were obtained from Aaron Scott of South Georgia Corvette (they are his invention) and carry a huge lift and duration. Marc had the bottom end of the block studded for increased strength, and then the engine was assembled. Dwight says, "the real genius of Marc Haibeck is not just his relentless attention to detail, but his vast knowledge of fine tuning the LT5. Most LT5s with big cams idle poorly, and usually end up with the tuner raising the idle to 1,100 rpm just to keep it from loading up with fuel. With big cams, the vacuum at idle drops low and the computer interprets this as the driver dipping into the throttle, so fuel is usually added, and the engine may stall. Marc has devised a way to have the computer continually removing fuel from the fuel map at idle to keep it idling nicely. My car idles with a nice lope at 800 rpm. I can run the air conditioning without stalling the engine at idle, and moving from a standstill is no problem at all thanks to the tireless efforts of Marc. his tuning is bang on!"
After the stroker project, the ZR-1 makes 575 rwhp and 482 rwtq, and consistently pulls hard to the redline of 7,400 rpm. Actually, the car pulls like a freight train at any point in the torque curve. with the stock rearend in place, if you drive gently, Dwight says it still gets 26 mpg on the highway. Marc confided, "the reason you can get great mpg with these cars is because of the inherent efficient combustion chamber of the LT5. Even though the bore is larger and the stroke is longer, it still takes about the same amount of fuel to cruise down the road at part throttle." In addition to the engine upgrade, Dwight has added a Doug Rippie Motorsports coilover suspension with FX3 adjustable shocks. For whoa power, Baer 13.5-inch rotors with four-piston calipers help haul this animal down in no time.
Dwight has kept Lingenfelter's name on the plenum as they were essential in the build of the engine, and Tom Cress (the new owner of LPE since John's passing) said John would want the engine to perform maximally if his name was on the plenum.
Dwight said he would like to thank Tom Cress at LPE, and Marc Haibeck for his tireless efforts to make his dream machine scary fast, yet docile enough to get groceries.
With this versatile ZR-1 in his garage, I guess we could say that Dwight gets to have his cake and eat it too! Are you hungry yet?
Go to www.zr1netregistry.com to learn more about these incredible Corvettes.