Enter Joe Pardo, owner/operator of Westfield Collision in Westfield, New Jersey, who consummated the co-conspired color change. He disassembled the C6 completely, stripped it of its factory paint, then applied Spies-Hecker Snakeskin Green base and clear, followed by color sanding and 3M Perfect-It polishing. He also painted and added ZR1 side skirts, an MTI chin splitter, and an APR carbon wing to the Corvette's presentation.
After four weeks of tense anticipation, Brandt was treated to his first glimpse at his Vette's gorgeous new glow. "I was stunned and relieved when I finally saw it. I knew I was taking a big risk painting the Corvette such a bright color, but it sure paid off," he says.
Before long, however, Brandt began to have doubts about his engine's long-term durability in the face of 20 psi of boost. "The LS7 motor is a great block for naturally aspirated applications, but it has its limitations when mated to power adders," he says. "My choices were to girdle it for extra strength or build a motor with a different block. After doing my research, I decided on the GM Performance Parts LSX short-deck block, which would allow me to safely run a 427 on 20-30 psi of boost, [thanks in part to its] six-bolt head configuration."
Brandt sourced an LSX from IPS Motorsports in Columbus, Ohio, and had it delivered to Livernois Performance in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Livernois' trained techs prepped and bored the casting, then treated it to one of their signature rotating assemblies: a 4.00-inch-stroke forged crank, 6.1225-inch billet I-beam forged rods, and 23cc-dish forged pistons.
IPS Motorsports also provided the ET Performance custom-ported LS7 heads (35-72cc combustion chambers, 262cc port runners), as well as the custom-grind Comp hydraulic roller cam (243/243-degree duration, 0.654/0.654-inch lift, 115-degree lobe-separation angle). The compression ratio was set to a boost- compatible 9.3:1.
During the engine install, Brandt took the time to install even more mods, including Katech valve covers and coil-relocation brackets, an IPS 280-amp alternator, an Evans high-flow LS water pump, a BeCool radiator, and Evans NPGR waterless coolant.
If you recall, Brandt is a part-time Corvette tuner, so safely squeezing every last iota of horsepower out of his boosted Z was a task he wanted to take on himself. "I tuned my Corvette with the speed-density method instead of the easier MAF technique," he explains. "In my opinion, speed density is the best way to tune a car for boost. It uses the MAP and a VE table for fueling, instead of the MAF sensor to measure airflow for fueling and speed." To prepare his Corvette for speed-density tuning, Brandt converted the factory ECM operating system using HP Tuners software. He also installed a custom 2.5-bar MAP sensor from DPE Corvettes, since the factory's 1.0-bar sensor is not designed for boosted speed-density applications.
Two Walbro in-tank fuel pumps had already been installed in Brandt's Vette before he bought it, but the heady boost levels cooked up by the APS kit required substantially more fuel delivery than even the largest high-impedance injectors on the market could provide. Consequently, his next task was to install a Versafueler injector driver. It converts the factory ECM's signal to low impedance, which allows the Vette to run Delphi 96-lb/hr low-impedance injectors. "A lot of tuners only run 60- or 83-lb/hr injectors and claim their cars made 1,000-plus hp. There is no way you can make that kind of power safely without installing a big injector, at least 96-lb/hr," he says.