As a devoted quarter-mile junkie, Chris Daniel is accustomed to standing on the throttle of extremely high-horsepower drag cars. How high? Consider, for example, that his '71 Outlaw Street race Nova boasts a 788ci rat motor that puts out 2,500 horsepower at the crank. So what kind of car does a power fiend like this drive on the street?
Daniel's conveyance of choice is the 782rwhp '06 Corvette Z06 pictured here. Yes, we know the Z06 comes from the factory with "only" 505 hp, so what gives? Having decided that his new ride's stock output wasn't enough, Daniel called ATI ProCharger, in Lenexa, Kansas, to inquire about a supercharger kit. The ProCharger folks didn't have an LS7 system at the time, so they asked Daniel if he'd be willing to lend them his new car to use as a prototyping mule. Chris agreed and drove 1,200 miles to ProCharger's headquarters.
As a prototype, the car's engine needed to survive at the various boost levels it would experience during testing. ProCharger engineers pulled the LS7 apart and reinforced it with forged Mahle pistons and rods, along with a Total Seal Hellfire ring package. Once the motor was back in the car, prototype brackets, pulleys, intercoolers, wiring, and an air-intake system were designed and installed. Finally, a race-spec F-1RC blower was bolted up to the freshly fortified engine. With the supercharged car ready for action, Daniel drove it back to Georgia and delivered it to MTI Racing in Marietta.
MTI was charged with improving the LS7's breathing to take advantage of the new blower. To accomplish this goal, the company's techs installed Manley chrome-moly pushrods, Jesel shaft rocker arms, and MTI Racing valve springs, seals, and retainers in the stock LS7 heads. Next, the crew added an MTI cam (0.625-inch lift, 240-degree duration) to help pump out all the extra air from the 'charger. Finally, to maximize drivetrain longevity with the blown combo, a street-friendly MTI dual-disc clutch was installed.
The car's exhaust also received some help in the form of a set of MTI Racing 3-inch long-tube headers with Random Technologies' cats. A switch in the cabin allows Daniel to open or close the factory muffler-bypass valves at will. After everything was buttoned up, the car headed to the dyno. Once there, its best pull produced 781.9 hp at 5,400 rpm and 775.2 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm (around 930/912 at the flywheel), using 10 psi of boost.
During his initial trips down the drag strip, Daniel wasn't too surprised to find that traction was in short supply. So while the car's 140-mph trap speeds were certainly impressive, he was a bit disappointed with his best e.t. of 10.12 seconds. We are sure that with some fine-tuning, this experienced drag racer will have no trouble breaking into the 9s.
Editor Jay and I got a chance to drive the boosted Z06 while we were covering this year's Corvettes at Carlisle show. It was a typical hot August day in Pennsylvania as we eased the silver bullet out of the Carlisle fairgrounds. The car had no bad habits and drove much like the many stock Z06s we have spent time in. The MTI Racing clutch even felt like the stocker, and easing through tight traffic was surprisingly easy.
Once out on the highway, one thing became immediately apparent: This beast has power to spare. Even quarter-throttle gave us an immediate rush of acceleration and a strong push into our seats. Think of a Z06 on steroids, and you have a pretty good idea of the car's character. Both Jay and I drove a number of remote, two-lane roads and, aside from some slightly elevated coolant temperatures (it was almost 100 degrees out, after all), the blown Z handled everything we asked of it.
All too quickly, our test-drive-cum-photo-shoot was over, and we had to return the car to the MTI Racing booth where it was being displayed. Despite the brevity of our exposure, a few things had become clear. This is not a ride for everyone, but if you have the means, the skill, and the nerve, a ProCharged Z06 will take you to your own speed limit-and beyond-in a heartbeat.