Saudi Arabia's racing heritage dates back thousands of years, to a time when the desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula bred horses for long treks across the desert and quick forays into enemy camps. In these harsh desert conditions, the Arabian horse evolved into a legendary creature with incredible looks, speed, and endurance.
In modern Saudi Arabia, a new group of racing enthusiasts has evolved, bringing with it a fresh need for world-class performance. Not surprisingly, many of these contemporary Saudi speed addicts have set their sights on the C6. Since opening its suburban Houston shop in 1994, late-model GM tuner Motorsport Technologies Inc. (MTI) has built a solid clientele of Middle Eastern Corvette customers looking to have the fastest modern horse.
One such gentleman is Saudi Arabia's Mamdouh Hamdan. A real-estate developer in Riyadh, Mamdouh is a passionate enthusiast who owns a total of seven cars, including an '05 GTO, an '06 Holden VY Commodore, and even a '99 Jeep Wrangler with a modified LS1 engine. "I always wanted a super sports car," says Hamdan, "but because I like to modify autos to the extreme, buying an expensive sports car that doesn't match my performance expectations-even after mild modifications-is not my dream. When you want to build a sports car with extreme power potential, American cars become the target."
After experiencing the rush of power in a built, 454-equipped '68 Camaro and seeing the fantastic new lines of the C6, Hamdan decided to build his fantasy car. He initially looked at three different U.S.-built tuner Corvettes, but after witnessing an MTI C5-based Z07 run low 11s at the strip and dispatch expensive sports cars with little effort on a Riyadh highway, he decided to contact the company about one of its C6 Devil Ray conversions.
"I was attracted to the new Z06 but wanted to upgrade the performance . . . beyond what Chevrolet was offering with the package," Hamdan says. "In order to meet my requirement of 800 horsepower, MTI proposed a Z51-equipped C6 that would utilize a C5-R-based 427 and an ATI supercharger system with a D-1SC head upgrade."
Although Saudi Arabia has Chevrolet dealers, Hamdan decided to have MTI procure a new C6 that was optioned to his specifications. Finding a C6 in Daytona Sunset Orange and equipped with the Z51 package, a six-speed trans, Preferred Equipment Group, and a Bose AM/FM/CD with navigation system required a nationwide search that eventually led to F.H. Dailey Motor Company, in San Leandro, California. Once the car was purchased and transported to MTI, Devil Ray No. 7's conversion began in earnest.
"We have been working with overseas customers for over 10 years and have established an excellent business base in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arabian Peninsula countries," says MTI owner Jayson Cohen. "In most cases the customer hires a broker to handle the logistics of arranging transportation and importing the car into their host country. Mr. Hamdan was very specific about what he wanted to build, and once we agreed on the specifics, his broker, Mr. Atif Atif, of Big Wheels Establishment of Riyadh, handled all of the details.
"Although the Middle East customer is interested in drag racing, most of the time the action is on deserted highways, at very high speeds, against exotics such as the Lamborghini Gallardo. Not only does the car have to handle extremely well, but it has to have excellent high-speed stability and the power to run in excess of 220 mph. By starting with a C6 optioned with the Z51 Performance package, which pulls .98 g's from the factory, the handling and stability are already in place . . . [We] concentrate on providing reliable, world-class power."
Rather than using the stock LS2 as the foundation for the Devil Ray's 427-cid Super Stroker, MTI began with a fresh GM Performance Parts C5-R block. Although expensive, the C5-R has consistently shown that it can handle the rigors of moderate forced induction without any distortion to the cylinder walls. Internally, a Callies 4.00-inch forged crankshaft spins bulletproof Lunati 6.125-inch billet-steel rods. Custom inverted-dome Wiseco pistons yield 9:0:1 compression when combined with a set of MTI's LQ9 (truck-based) Stage III-R heads. Since the ProCharger creates 12 pounds of boost, a relatively mild MTI "DR1" camshaft-measuring 228/232 degrees at 0.050-inch and 0.588/0.574-inch-lift is all that is necessary to achieve the desired power. A FAST composite intake and a LS2 90mm throttle body complete the engine package.
Exhaust is routed out via a set of Kooks 171/48-inch stainless headers and a 3-inch off-road mid-pipe. A Corsa Sport 211/42-inch after-cat exhaust with twin 311/42-inch Pro-Series tips rounds out the exhaust and provides only the mildest hint of the performance under the hood-until the throttle body is cracked open and a cacophonous roar ensues. Shifting duties are handled by a stock T56 six-speed transmission that utilizes a Spec Stage III clutch and a billet-steel flywheel to transmit power to the pavement. Other than a Dynotech hardened output shaft and cryogenically treated GM 3.42 gears, the rear differential remains stock.