If you're a gearhead, you've probably heard of SPEED TV's Dream Car Garage. The long-running show (currently in its eighth season) is hosted by Peter Klutt and Tom Hnatiw, two passionate car guys who work out of the Legendary Motorcar Company's sprawling facility near Toronto, Canada. Last year DCG filmed a one-hour special about restoring and racing a '69 L88 Corvette. With longtime vintage Vette racer Klutt at the wheel, the car was among the fastest in its class.
This season, the production team decided to modify a new Z06 and race it against the L88. After researching various tuners, they picked MTI Racing in Marietta, Georgia, to upgrade the newer car. MTI owner Reese Cox invited Team VETTE to Toronto to cover the build-up and get a behind-the-scenes look at how this popular show is produced.
We arrived at Legendary in a blinding snowstorm and were instantly amazed at the size of the facility. With over 40,000 square feet under roof, the company has plenty of room to restore, display, and sell cars in their inventory. We counted about 60 cars for sale during our visit, including Corvettes, Mustangs, Pontiacs, Camaros, Cobras, Mopars, and even Ferraris.
We up met with Reese and his associate Roman Hackett in the building's restoration facility. Soon after, we were introduced to Klutt, Hnatiw, and DCG VP of Marketing Adrian Chadwick, all three of whom were very supportive of VETTE's shadowing the weeklong filming process. Along with cameraman Dave Lostracco and sound producer Melissa Glidden, their goal was to film eight of Reese's 13 episodes over the course of the week.
Next, we checked out the Z06 test car, a black-over-gray '06 showing a little over 2,400 miles on the clock. Before any work began on the car, it was strapped down on Legendary's in-house Dynojet to get some baseline power numbers. With the hood open, the car's best pull registered 425.1 hp and 400.3 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. Closing the hood produced readings of 409.4/389.10. Since most of us drive with our hoods closed, we decided to use the second pair of numbers as our baseline.
The first segments covered adding MTI Racing's Stage 1 Z06 package, which includes the following:
* Callaway Honker cold-air induction system
* MTI Racing spark-plug wires
* Denso iridium spark plugs
* Low-temperature thermostat
* MTI Racing stainless steel long-tube headers
* Random Technologies high-flow catalytic converters
* Random Technologies stainless steel X crossover pipe
Because the car is slated to see some aggressive road racing, Reese decided to also install one of Brembo's brand-new C6 Z06 brake-upgrade packages. The Brembo setup eliminates the stock front calipers' six-puck pad configuration in favor of a large, two-pad arrangement that offers more rotor-contact area. Every part in the package is manufactured to bolt directly onto the stock Z06 brake system.
When this install was completed, the MTI Racing team moved on to the Z06's suspension. They added their Stage 4 Road Racing setup, which does away with the stock mono-leaf springs in favor of coilover units. MTI uses Eibach springs with custom-valved Penske gas shocks. The suspension was finished with MTI's hollow-tube front and rear anti-roll bars.
Inside the car, a Brey-Krause C6 Harness Bar was added to help secure the G-Force five-point safety harnesses. An MTI Six-Shooter shifter was also installed to ensure fast, precise shifting on the open track.
Reese had experienced significant front-end lift in his Z06 development car during earlier testing at Road Atlanta. To combat this, he spent time in the wind tunnel to develop MTI's Z06 aero package. A return trip to Road Atlanta showed that the package's front splitter and rear wing made a big difference in lap times. Since the DCG Z06 would also be doing high-speed track work, Reese decided to install these aerodynamic aids on the car.
The final change involved the addition of Corsa's 3-inch stainless steel exhaust system. Installation was straightforward, and the quality of the materials was first-rate. Best of all, the modified exhaust provided a throaty, but acceptably muted, tone.
With poor weather ruling out a test drive, the car went straight back to the dyno for follow-up testing. Once Reese had tuned the Z's computer to work with the new modifications, the car recorded an impressive 489 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. Thanks to the design of the Callaway intake-which draws air from outside the engine compartment-output remained constant, whether the hood was open or closed.
With the Z06 prepped to take on its vintage counterpart, all that remained was for the Dream Car Garage crew to orchestrate the on-track showdown. Team VETTE was invited back to report on the outcome, so stay tuned.
The two front seats were removed to install the Brey-Krause C6 Harness Bar and G-Force belts. The stock belts remain operational.
Here, Roman is completing installation of MTI Racing's Six-Shooter quick shifter.
The factory springs were removed and replaced with Eibach coilovers and Penske shocks. MTI Racing's 35mm front and 25mm rear anti-roll bars help minimize corner roll.
The Z06 tends to get light in the front when it nears its top speed. To remedy this, Reese and Roman added MTI Racing's wind-tunnel and track-tested aero package. Here, Reese is installing the carbon-fiber rear wing.
The last stage of the modification process involved adding Corsa's excellent three-inch exhaust system. With the system in place, the car sounded very healthy without becoming obnoxious.
Dream Car Garage VP of Marketing Adrian Chadwick lends a hand cleaning the Z06 as the project nears completion.
The final step of the project involved putting the Z06 back on the chassis dyno. Earlier baseline testing had produced 425 hp and 400 lb-ft with the hood open and 409.4/389.10 with the hood closed. The final, post-modification pulls produced a whopping 489/470 regardless of hood position.
How would you like to drive your 500-plus-horse Z06 in this weather? Notice the snowflakes streaking down.