Admit it: Your eyes slammed on the brakes when they saw the graphics on this '06 Corvette. That's understandable, but there's a lot more to this C6 than a unique paint-and-graphics scheme-specifically, plenty of state-of-the-art hardware that not only spins the dynamometer needle into the Big Numbers, but also draws potential customers to the shop that built it.
Immediately after Pete Cochetas bought it, this '06 made its first run to his Dragon Race Engineering (DRE) shop in Dacono, Colorado. Cochetas says it was the only trip the car made with the OEM engine in it. "I drove it from the dealer's lot, took it to the shop, and then we ripped the engine out," he says. "We put in the first of four different racing engines that have gone through that car.
Engine No. 4, as seen here, is the strongest one yet. "This one's the iron [GM Performance Parts] LSX engine, which we used to see how far we could push the supercharger." That 7.0-liter LSX block is filled with Diamond Racing pistons, billet Manley crank and rods, and DRE Stage IV Warhawk heads, plus many more custom-made items such as the camshaft and supercharger that were developed in-house with big numbers in mind.
Right now, the DRE 1000M supercharger puts out 18 pounds of boost. Is that enough? "Eventually, our plan is to go all the way to 24 pounds," says Cochetas.
You read that right-24 psi. That may sound like madness, but Cochetas says there's a method to it. "As a guinea pig for what we do, it's my job to find out what the Corvette's weak links are. By putting that much engine in the car, we found those weak points and re-engineered driveline components to match," he says. "We've been able to turn out a better product for our customers because we've gone and broken so many things."
But heavy-duty driveline upgrades aren't what initially catches the attention of most high-country show-goers. Rather, the car's distinctive paint-and-graphics scheme is the real eye grabber. "It was always my goal to do a really over-the-top paintjob that showed off a lot of different aspects of the paints we use, and the things we can pull off graphically, while still making it fit the lines of the car," says Cochetas. "It was a monumental effort."
Cochetas says the look that's on the car now is far from what he originally envisioned. "I had a basic design, then I got together with my good friend, Sean Lynch of Brutal Image, who helps me do the airbrush work," he says. "We sat down and conceptualized it, then when I put it in the paint booth, I changed the design four times before we put any paint on it."
As for the skulls you see in back and along the sides, Cochetas says they're hand painted and took a long time to do." I came back one day, after leaving him to do the skulls, and he's probably got 180 skulls about one inch across on the bottom of one corner of the car." Cochetas recalls. "I said to him, 'What are you doing?' And he said, 'I'm doing skull piles-that's what you wanted.' I told him, 'You're going to be at this for the next year if you do 'em this size!'" Cochetas says that once the skulls were applied, the commitment was made, and the two knew they had to finish the car.
The result is a C6 that was once a consistent show-winner, but is a display-only car when shown nowadays. "Everybody loves it!" Cochetas says, "[though] I've had a few ladies say, 'I can't believe you did that to a Corvette!'"
It's no surprise, then, that this '06 is the center of attention wherever it goes. "I've had more people come up to me-even when it's sitting next to some car that has every square inch of it chromed-and say, 'This is my favorite!'" says Cochetas.
Lest you think the C6 is a trailer queen, its performance speaks for itself. On the dyno, the car has twisted the dials to 944 hp and 1,065 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. On pavement, using a 14 percent correction factor, the blown LSX's output is estimated at 1,097 horses and 1,238 lb-ft. The car has also turned a best dragstrip pass of 9.51 seconds at 155 mph.
Between its show and on-track appearances, the C6 has also done very well from a business standpoint. "This car's paid for itself three times over," says Cochetas, who adds that it's easily the best investment he's ever made.
If you're planning to add more power to your Corvette, Cochetas has this advice: Before calling a shop like DRE, be ready to talk realistically what you want to accomplish. "Everybody gets wound up because they read magazine and Internet articles about 1,000-horsepower cars, and they're convinced when they walk into my office that's what they have to have," he says. "The reality is, nobody knows what that's like to drive, other than me and a few other people, and it's not actually what they want.
"Find a tuner you can trust and ask the difficult questions. More importantly, ask 'What happens if I change my mind?' You're going to start getting honest and real answers as soon as you ask that question. That's because nobody gets into this and knows exactly what they're going to do. I'm a prime example. What my car turned into is not at all what I envisioned the day I brought it home. It's all going to change."