With a combustion engine, there are only so many ways to feed the powerplant. Normally-aspirated engines reign in the majority, as the engine gasps in its intake charge by means of its naturally produced vacuum and gravity. Originally tunneled in through a carburetor where fuel is sprayed into the intake charge, normal aspiration (for the most part) evolved into fuel injection, a method where the ingested air flows through a throttle body, meeting up with the fuel in the intake runners or directly in the combustion chamber as with direct-injection engines. Either way, the intake charge was susceptible to a litany of variants that could hinder the vehicle's performance. Higher altitudes starved the engine for the necessary air, altering the combustion's fuel-to-air mixture. Certain engine speeds and rpms limited the conventional carburetor's usefulness, often floating the throttle or maxing it out.
But it wasn't long after the original patents on the internal-combustion engine were filed that new innovations in advanced performance were made. Rudolf Diesel's 1898 design for a supercharger drastically improved the output of his compression-ignition engine-the first diesel engine as we know it today. Utilizing centrifugal fan blades either spun by the crankshaft via a belt, chain, or directly mounted, superchargers offer on-demand power; while turbos are propelled by exiting exhaust, requiring a build-up of pressure to force additional air into the induction. Superchargers and turbos evolved step-for-step with the internal-combustion engine, making their cross application almost second nature. The advent of the "power-adder" to domestic production vehicles during the '70s and '80s offered on-tap power without sacrificing streetability during the nation's tight economy, and through the '90s and the new century as a performance enhancer, most notably on four-cylinders and diesel trucks.
So was it any wonder when it came time for Vint Fantin to squeeze out some extra ponies he opted for a supercharger? We didn't think so.
The magic number advertised in 2002 was 405 for the Z06's horsepower output. Drawing from its historical nomenclature, the Corvette brandished the famed, but short-lived, moniker for the 21st century made famous by the white-on-blue '63 entries for LeMans. The performance-bred hardtop was the fastest, most potent Corvette since the swan-song '95 ZR-1, matching it pony for pony. But this time, the special-bred Corvette was wider, longer, and lighter than its C4 predecessor. The following '03 model of the Z06 remained nearly unchanged, and it showed in the nearly identical final sales for both Z06 production years.
It was these attributes that drew performance-hungry Vint to the '03 Z06. He was already a connoisseur of fine GM horsepower with his triad of muscle: a '68 Camaro, and '73 and '84 Vettes. Since his other Corvettes were all dressed in black, he thought it would be appropriate to order his Z06 in a matching hue. Vint ran the idea past his wife, Katrina, who raised a skeptical eyebrow. So he took her to the local showroom where she saw a fetching Electron Blue Z06 sitting among the Cavaliers and Malibus. She said, "This is the only color to have; black doesn't compare!" And the decision was made. Vint would get his Z06, but in blue, not black; yet it was a Z06. Not one to leave well enough alone, he pushed for chromed wheels, a slight modification that would hint at many more to come in the future. Knowing her husband well, Katrina warned, "Ok, but nothing else for at least a year."