The Corvette didn't simply fall into being America's first supercar by mere accident. It took years of advancing technology, geometry, and race testing. Were it not for the driven members of the Chevrolet design, engineering, and production teams, the Corvette would have failed much in the same way several impersonators and imitators have over the last half-century. The Corvette is not just a car, but a record of all the people whose hands have touched the creation of such a signature piece of automotive history. From the very top of General Motors' brass down to the assembly line worker installing sun visors, the birth of each and every Corvette is a team effort. Producing the first Corvette in 1953 required a Herculean effort by all those involved. From the preproduction prototype on display at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel in January 1953 to the hand-built 300 units pieced together on the floor of the Flint, Michigan, factory, the introduction of the Corvette was an uphill climb. All those involved knew they were scratching the surface of something great in the American automotive industry, but had little clue to what would follow over the next 50 years. The Corvette's legacy and long history is what adds to its allure. If the car was introduced these days, it would still be an exciting thoroughbred performer, stomping down domestic competitors as well as European machines, but it truly wouldn't yield half the present following that it does today. It's a phenomenon, plain and simple.
When acclaimed NHRA driver, John Lingenfelter, chose to apply his engineering aptitude on the prodigious Corvette, the result was incredible. Even while his business, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE), was up and running, John continued on the pro racing circuit, claiming 13 career wins. During his time in the Competition Eliminator class, John was the first to break the six-second barrier. Towards the twilight of his life, John focused his speed skills on GM's Ecotec four-cylinder platform, clicking off a career best of a 7.08-second quarter-mile in a Chevrolet microbox. Meanwhile, LPE was fast on turning stock Corvettes into quarter-mile-eating, slalom-snapping, road-course-burning machines. Using every bit of available technology and engineering, Lingenfelter Corvettes have been synonymous with street-legal, race car performance, either with nitrous, superchargers, or single or twin turbos. Engines are pulled, computer-balanced, blueprinted, honed, and fitted with the lightest and strongest materials accessible. Lingenfelter Corvettes are either assembled according to the individual desires of each client or per pre-made performance packages including test times and/or dyno results. Owning a Lingenfelter Corvette is much like belonging to a club. The association attributed to Corvette ownership is exclusive as it is, but the distinction of your particular Corvette being a Lingenfelter car carries with it some weight. It says you love speed, you love to race, and you'll take on anyone who looks at you funny.
Bill Bruner is one of those guys. Hailing from Owensboro, Kentucky, Bill was excited to wrap his hands around one of the rare 50th Anniversary Z06 Corvettes, purchasing it new from Tommy Tapp Motors in his hometown. In original factory Quicksilver, Bill knew he had something special on his hands. The Z06 rapidly became the performance car to have, and by 2006 had evolved into one of the most venerable performance vehicles General Motors has ever produced. With all the surmounting attention placed on the Z06 moniker, Bill felt it appropriate to wrest out a few more ponies from the Anniversary Edition. So he picked up the phone and got a hold of Jeff Meyers of LPE. Though John Lingenfelter had passed earlier, LPe was proudly carrying the torch of their founder. Bill presented Jeff with a projected idea of what he wanted his Quicksilver Corvette to look, perform, and handle like, and Jeff made it happen. Plans for the engine were drawn up, parts ordered, and Bill drove his Z06 to Lingenfelter's Decatur, Indiana, facility like a father sending his child to summer camp.
Jeff was asked to leave the body alone, retaining the stock appearance except for some external striping and badging. Red Z06 stripes race down the hood, while the dual red hash marks cut across the driver's fender like the Grand Sports from 1996. At almost every angle, a Lingenfelter label can be found advertising the revamped engine's 427 ci of displacement. The wheels and tires maintained the Z06 look with polished 17- and 18-inch wheels with equally polished Z06 center caps and painted C5 crossed-flags. Stout Lingenfelter-manufactured axles mesh with 3.42 gears spun by a factory positraction carrier. the transmission remained mostly the same from the Bowling Green plant except for a Breathless short throw shifter and a Lingenfelter-built clutch. The 405-horse Z06 powerplant was pulled and eviscerated of its internals. In its stead returned a totally different animal. The once tame (and we use that word loosely) 405 street-friendly ponies now weigh in close to 600 hp!
The Jekyll-to-Hyde conversion cannot be attributed to any black magic. While out, the original LS6 block was cleaned, bagged, and replaced with the GM Performance C5R block-a platform based upon the race-bred unit used by the Corvette Le Mans team. The C5R was filled with billet steel connecting rods that pushed custom forged aluminum 11.2:1 slugs in the large cylinders. A custom-built forged steel crank strokes the rotating assembly, while the Z06 aluminum heads manage the breathing. After being CNC ported and polished, the heads were filled with large 2.10/1.57-inch valves and Competition Cams double valvesprings with titanium retainers. LPE used Crane roller rockers with Comp Cams HD pushrods, all manipulated by a specialty cut Comp Cams Lingenfelter-specific hydraulic roller camshaft. The factory intake was also bagged and replaced with a FAST FSX intake with a gaping 90mm throttle body. High-capacity, 42-pound fuel injectors are matched by a free flowing Vortex air intake with a K&N filter for the perfect air-to-fuel intake charge. The fire comes via Magnacor 8.5mm plug wires and NGK V-power spark plugs. Expelling all the spent gasses is a pair of Dynatech SuperMAXX headers with PowerCAT collectors and catalytic converters that flow into a set of Billy Boat Bullet system mufflers and out 3-inch stainless tubes with four polished tips.
When Bill finally took collection of the reworked Z06 he was blown out of the water. Lingenfelter's "Midas" touch is typically characterized by semi-stock behaving Corvettes until the pedal is mashed. And with the smashing of the accelerator, this once respectable Z06 obliterates the wide track tires into gooey pulp. Bill still hasn't taken the 50th Anniversary 427 to the track because he's having too much fun driving it whenever he can and showing it off at all the local venues. it's good to know that John Lingenfelter's special charismatic touch survives long after the man has left us.