C5 Corvette Supercharger Kit - Ludicrous Speed

Kenne Bell Stirs Up The Corvette-Supercharging Market

Richard Holdener Aug 29, 2006 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0608_07_z Kenne_bell_c5_supercharger_kit Compressor_bypass_valve 1/19

The kit includes a compressor-bypass valve that eliminates the pressure surge that occurs when lifting off the throttle at full boost. The bypass valve also allows the air to recirculate under cruise, greatly reducing inlet-air temperatures.

Even with boost pressure at a very reasonable 7.5 psi, the Kenne Bell blower kit required an air-to-water intercooler. This unit features a bar-and-plate design to maximize thermal efficiency. Before being forced into the cylinders, the heated inlet air must pass through the air-to-water intercooler core. The heated inlet air is cooled as it comes in contact with the much cooler transfer medium (in this case, water).

To rid the air-to-water core of the unwanted heat, an electric pump is used to circulate the water through a second heat exchanger mounted in front of the radiator. This basic system is used successfully on many OEM supercharger systems, including the 550hp Ford GT. The combination of the efficient twin-screw design and effective air-to-water intercooler allows the Kenne Bell supercharger system to provide huge power gains at a relatively low boost level. The intercooler should also allow the boost to be safely cranked up on a dedicated blower motor.

Vemp_0608_08_z Kenne_bell_c5_supercharger_kit Air_to_water_intercooler 2/19

The KB kit features an air-to-water intercooler core located in the new lower-intake casting.

Given the tight constraints of the Corvette engine bay, installing the supercharger and intercooler does require the use of a new hood. The KB design looks a bit like a factory hood that took a short but beneficial trip to a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. Nothing outlandish mind you-just enough to make bystanders take a second look. Each Corvette blower kit comes with an unpainted hood, ready for color-matching.

With the hardware completed, the Kenne Bell folks spent considerable time tuning the supercharged combination. Supercharged motors require a slightly richer mixture and significantly less total ignition timing than do stock, normally aspirated ones.

Accordingly, the programming KB supplies with its Corvette kits provides safe-but still powerful-air/fuel and timing curves. Remember: When it comes to successfully running a supercharged motor on the street or strip, tuning is the key.

Vemp_0608_09_z Kenne_bell_c5_supercharger_kit Intercooler_fittings 3/19

Water for the intercooler core is fed through these fittings on the intake, behind the supercharger.

While the components and tuning all seemed to be first-rate, we were most interested in the power gains. As luck would have it, Kenne Bell had two LS-powered Corvettes available for us to test. One, an '02 C5, was equipped with a modified LS1. The other was a stone-stock '04 Z06.

The '02 was powered by a stock short-block that had been augmented by LS6-spec heads and exhaust, along with a mild Lingenfelter cam. In normally aspirated trim, this Vette produced 360 hp and 359 lb-ft of torque. With the Kenne Bell unit installed, peak numbers jumped to 550 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque. While the peak gains of 190 hp and 140 lb-ft were certainly impressive, the graphs show huge gains throughout the rev range.

Vemp_0608_10_z Kenne_bell_c5_supercharger_kit Intercooler_reservoir 4/19

The intercooler system features a dedicated reservoir (that is, it does not share coolant with the engine) and front-mounted heat exchanger.

We initially had misgivings about installing the blower kit on the higher-compression LS6 motor, but the dyno results and a follow-up testdrive quickly put our fears to rest. In stock trim, the LS6 produced 372 hp and 364 lb-ft of torque. Once Kenne Bell applied 7.5 psi of boost, the peak numbers jumped to 547 hp and 522 lb-ft. The power delivery from this supercharged LS6 was seamless, offering near-stock driveability and all the instant gratification you could ever ask for.

While we can't imagine ever wanting or needing more power than this base kit provided, there will always be those who feel that if 550 hp is enough, then 600 hp or even 650 wheel horsepower is just right. Fear not, as the Kenne Bell supercharger system has another few hundred horsepower left in reserve. Of course, reaching much beyond the 550-rwhp level will require a dedicated engine with forged internals and even larger injectors, but it's good to know the power is available-just in case you should ever go looking for ludicrous speed.

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