We auto writers take more than a little pride in our work, despite omnipresent deadlines that not only keep a fire lit under our seats, but blow flames up our--well, you get the idea. Nevertheless, we're constantly flinging open the thesaurus for insightful descriptors that convey the look, feel, and driving experience of cars you're only seeing in print. It's clever stuff like "more torque than an aircraft carrier with a stroker motor."
Obviously, it ain't all gold, but we try. And for better or worse, we're hardly ever at a loss for words. That changed recently when we got a look at Steve Gilliland's yellow Z06. Here's the bottom line: twin turbos, 1,008 hp, and 827 lb-ft of torque. That says it all, right?
Sure, we could go on about the trick engine combination--although it's surprisingly straightforward--and weave in hyperbolic comparisons between Gilliland's Corvette and, say, the Space Shuttle at launch, but really, what's the point? If you know anything about the Corvette Z06, you know it weighs somewhere between 3,100 and 3,200 pounds. Tack on the few extra pounds for this car's turbo system and some of its other enhancements, and it's tipping the scale at what, 3,400 pounds? Maybe 3,500?
Even math-class washouts like us don't need to spend much time pecking at a calculator to figure out that the power-to-weight ratio of this car is something akin to Bruce Banner after someone cut him off in traffic. No, we like to think of our readers as a savvy bunch who don't need us to point out the obvious.
If pressed, we'd report that Gilliland--an Oklahoma resident in the oil-and-gas business (a good business to be in these days)--sent the car to Katech in Michigan, to have it built into a purposeful, track-only weapon. It was a shrewd plan, as the finished product looks and performs more like a street-going show car than a down-and-dirty road-course siege weapon. In fact, the competition is likely to take one look at the car and conclude that it's nothing more than a fat-fendered poseur that's just going to get in the way of their sponsorship decals and tow rings. They'd be very wrong.
Again, words fail. Because while "sleeper" is hardly what we'd call a yellow Z06 with a wide-body kit, carbon-fiber rear spoiler and front splitter, and coffee-can-sized exhaust outlets, what other term is appropriate? In fact, a look under the hood reveals nothing more than a painted intake and Katech's trick valve-cover/coil-relocation setup. The turbochargers are buried in the chassis and completely hidden from view. Even when running, the barking exhaust masks the characteristic turbo whistle at idle and low speed.
Simply put, in its intended environment, this monster Vette doesn't look the part. It's like a guy in a business suit getting a dunk past Kobe Bryant. That's what Gilliland was looking for (he's got other Corvettes for driving on the street), and that's what Katech delivered.
A Thousand And Then Some
Achieving 1,008 hp is never easy, but we were surprised at how difficult it wasn't. Katech started with its Air Attack 7.0L combination, which combines lower-compression pistons and a strengthened bottom end to withstand the pressure of forced induction. In this case, the LS7 block features a Lingenfelter main-stud girdle over a Callies Dragonslayer crankshaft. Attached to the crank are a set of Carrillo forged H-beam connecting rods and Katech's own forged, 9:1-compression pistons. Friction-reducing coated bearings are used throughout.
Katech also designed the camshaft grind to benefit the force-fed 427 engine and prepped the already high-flow factory heads with Inconel exhaust valves, stiffer valvesprings, and titanium retainers. Premium ARP head studs ensure adequate sealing under boost. Interestingly, the camshaft specs were tailored to the specifications suggested by a computer cam-modeling tool, which hazarded that the engine would make 990 hp. Looks like Katech got its money's worth on that program.