What would possess a man to buy a brand-new 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, then re-CNC its heads, swap out its cam, and install a 200-shot of nitrous, all in an effort to push its output to 750 hp? Could it have been passion? Desire? A need for respect?
What if we told you he just wanted to make a great meal . . . out of a Ford GT40?
"I had been reading about the new-for-'06 Corvette Z06 for a while and made the decision to stop by my local dealer in Houston and see one in person," says Greg Wilbur, an information-technology company owner, now residing in Clearwater, Florida. "When I got there and saw it in person, I knew I was going to be driving it off the lot that evening."
Chevy produced 8,159 Z06s in 2006, all ready to rule the road with the new 427ci, 505hp LS7 engine. According to the press release, the new Z was "the fastest, most powerful car ever offered by Chevrolet and General Motors. And with an unmistakably muscular appearance, the Z06 has a visual attitude that always looks ready to demonstrate Corvette's winning attitude to any challenger around the globe."
Before long, Wilbur was testing the limits of his Corvette, to see if Chevy's press release was true to its word. "I had owned the Vette for about a year and had just finished a date night with my wife, Jessica. On the way back home, I saw an old Ford Cobra ahead of me on the interstate. I proceeded to catch up to him and we ran each other at 50 mph. I beat him by three car lengths, and we both pulled into a gas station to check out each other's rides. As we were talking, a new blue-striped Ford GT pulled into the gas station and came over. Five minutes later, all three of us were lined up, ready to race. I came in second to the GT, and that was when I knew I wanted to take my Z06 to the next level."
Like Wilbur, other Z06 owners had begun demanding more power from their cars, too. RevXtreme, a Corvette specialty shop in Bradenton, Florida, was among the first to evaluate the LS7's strengths and determine how to squeeze more power out of the highly regarded Gen IV engine. "We looked at the internals of the LS7," company owner Tracy Lewis says. "It already had a high-quality forged-steel crankshaft that could handle gobs of horsepower, the forged titanium connecting rods were extremely strong and lightweight, and the hypereutectic aluminum pistons were well-suited for horsepower. The only issues we saw with them was when they were called upon to perform in high-boost applications."
Confident that the LS7's stock bottom end could easily withstand 700 horsepower or more, Lewis turned his attention to where that horsepower could be hidden: in the cylinder heads, the camshaft grind, and the air-intake system.
He contacted Pete Incaudo, owner of VMax Motorsports in Pinellas Park, whose history in the cylinder-head and camshaft businesses goes back to the 1970s, when he worked with companies like Edelbrock, Air Flow Research, and Comp Cams. Lewis had already worked closely with RevXtreme on the development of several aftermarket performance products for the Corvette and the LS-series engines.
"When the LS-series motors were introduced in 1997, there were no readily available aftermarket cylinder heads. Incaudo developed a head-modification CNC program based upon improving the intake and exhaust ports of the LS heads. We found the results were fantastic for what we had to work with at the time. Combining his head porting with his knowledge of custom camshaft profiles, we were easily bumping LS1 motors to the 450-500hp range," Lewis says.
"Similarly, when the LS7 first appeared in 2005, Incaudo was one of the first in the country to get his hands on a set of heads," he continues. "From there, he quickly deduced that there was room on the exhaust side for a CNC-porting program to maximize the flow and horsepower capabilities of the casting."