Nitrous oxide has long been a mainstay of the performance world, but we haven't seen too many bottle-fed late-model Corvettes. It's so easy to drop a blower onto an engine that many enthusiasts simply go with forced induction for the quick and easy power boost.
Ed Miklavcic has been around the high-performance block more than a few times, however, and after experimenting with turbocharged imports and supercharged Mustangs, he decided natural aspiration was the way to go-with a healthy nitrous system on tap for on-demand power.
"I grew up modifying cars," says the 38-year-old owner/operator of Bissell's Hideaway, a water park and RV resort in Ontario, Canada. "I started with the imports and blew up a few turbo engines. I tried the SVT Mustang, but kept throwing blower belts."
Frustrated with forced induction, he finally turned to the Corvette.
"I liked that the Z06 had a lot of cubic inches and a low curb weight," Miklavcic says. "That's a great recipe for speed, and I've never regretted my decision. It's the best car I've ever owned."
While experimenting with nitrous was in his plan at the outset, Miklavcic managed to get the car running low 11s at 131 mph, with 2.1-second 60-foot times, in naturally aspirated form. It was quick, no doubt about it, but Miklavcic had a goal to chase: "I want to run 9s," he says bluntly.
Achieving that goal would risk damage to the stock engine, thanks to the LS7's hypereutectic pistons, so a purpose-built engine combination was required-one with a rock-solid, all-forged rotating assembly suitable for nitrous use. For that, Miklavcic turned to Katech, in the industrial 'burbs of Detroit.
The company renowned for building racing-strength Corvettes tore down the factory LS7 engine and completely rebuilt it. The bottom end includes:
Callies Dragonslayer forged-steel crankshaft
Callies H-beam forged-steel connecting rods
Katech LS7 nitrous pistons and rings, with diamond-like-carbon-coated (DLC) wristpins
Lingenfelter stud girdle, main-cap studs, and cylinder-head studs
Katech Torquer LS7 camshaft, high-speed lifters, high-lift valvesprings, and titanium retainers
The great-breathing stock LS7 heads were reinstalled atop the strengthened short-block, and a stout C5-R timing chain was added to connect the crankshaft to the new Katech cam. Straddling the heads is a FAST LSXR 102mm intake manifold that was finished to complement the exterior. The engine also wears Katech's aluminum valve covers (painted black) and coil-relocation kit. Blowing through a set of Kooks long-tube headers, the engine made 520 rear-wheel horsepower without nitrous and 701 horses at the Tarmac with the giggle gas engaged.
But nitrous is what this combo is all about, and the system on Miklavcic's Z represents hundreds of hours of custom work, including hardware design and installation, wiring, and tuning. The setup is based largely on Nitrous Express (NX) components, with highlights that include the following:
Carbon-fiber nitrous bottle mounted in the rear storage compartment
NANO system (nitrogen-assisted nitrous oxide)
Remote bottle opener
NX direct-port components and billet fuel rails
Twin purge lines
NOS progressive activation controller
NOS LCD touch-screen control interface
Nitrous Outlet stand-alone fuel system