As any parent will attest, there's no denying the influence of your children, something Jonathan Oxford found out in the best way possible. Oxford is a hard-core car enthusiast who's owned numerous Camaros and other Chevys, but he eventually decided it was time to add a Corvette to the stable. He ran across an '02 Z06 on the Internet and cooked up a trade involving one of his late-model Camaros. The seller was interested enough to trailer the Vette down from Albany, Kentucky, to Oxford's home in Cleveland, Tennessee, so the two could strike up a deal.
As the gentleman pulled up outside, Oxford was headed out to take a look when his 2-year-old son, Brett, said, "Silver Corvette on trailer-I love it. Take it off trailer, Daddy." As you can see, Oxford didn't disappoint his eldest son: the Vette rolled off the trailer, and the trade took place. Though still years away from driving age, Brett had helped his dad make a big decision-and we suspect his little brother, Caleb, would've backed him up if he were old enough to talk. Oxford's two sons seem destined to be car guys, and Brett is already on the right track.
When Jonathan had the chance to really look over the Z06, he was pleased with the car, but he had a few upgrades in mind. The Vette had already been lowered on stock bolts, so the ride height was just right for everyday driving, and the previous owner had upgraded to drilled-and-slotted brake rotors up front. While the Vette currently runs a pair of Michelin Pilot Sport 295/35ZR18 tires in the rear, Oxford plans to add Mickey Thompson drag radials to improve traction (you'll understand why in a moment), while keeping things legal for the street.
Along with the Michelin rubber, Oxford's Corvette now rolls on a set of HRE 540 wheels, which measure 17x9.5 inches up front and 18x11 inches out back. The mesh design offers a race-ready feel, while the staggered sizes make for a wicked stance.
As for gearing, the Z06 packs the stock ring and pinion, which feature a 3.42:1 ratio. Moving forward, you'll find an LS7 clutch and flywheel, which offer a significant durability upgrade over the stock units, along with the original T-56 six-speed manual.
Rated at 405 hp from the factory, the 346ci LS6 engine generates few performance-related complaints in stock form, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. Oxford wanted a quick boost in horsepower, and a supercharger was the most affordable and straightforward choice. He installed the polished Magnacharger unit at home, with Brett by his side. As his dad turned the wrenches, Brett wanted to know more about the big shiny contraption under the hood. His mother Emily gave him the short version: "It will make the car go faster!" So now, whenever Oxford opens the hood to his Corvette, Brett says, "Whoa, supercharger makes it go faster!" How cool is that?
Aside from the blower, Oxford's Corvette features mild engine modifications, including a Walbro 255 fuel pump and Kenne-Bell Boost-A-Pump, along with a Borla Stinger exhaust system and X-crossover pipe. The fuel-system upgrades keep the boosted engine supplied with ample amounts of 93-octane, while the exhaust is there to improve power and unleash a killer sound. After installing the supercharger and other goodies, Oxford took the Z06 to Scott Bowen at In-Tune Motorsports in Charleston, Tennessee, to have it tuned.
In-Tune's Mustang chassis dynamometer is affectionately known as "the heartbreaker" among local car enthusiasts, since it typically yields lower readings than the (different brand) dynos at other nearby shops. Conservative readings aside, the Mustang unit is very consistent, and Bowen is a firm believer in uniformity when it comes to dialing in timing and fuel delivery. When the rollers came to a halt, the dyno graphs revealed 440 hp and just over 400 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels, which means Oxford's car is making well over 500 horses at the crankshaft. The beauty of all this comes when Oxford hits the highway and gets 28 mpg from a car that could likely outpace a C6 Z06.