Nobody's going to argue that Corvettes are one of the best bang-for-the-buck performance vehicles on the road today. Going fast and looking good certainly has its appeal. But even the 300-or-so rear-wheel horsepower provided by a factory LS1 engine starts to get a little humdrum after a while, and some C5 owners develop a lust for more power. Long known for its line of Magna Charger blowers, Magnuson Products Inc., of Ventura, California, has come to market with an intercooled version of its Magna Charger blower for '97-'03 C5 and Z06 Corvettes.
We jumped at the opportunity to test one of these new units, and showed up at the Magnuson facility with our test vehicle, a bone-stock '01 C5 with 26,000 miles on the odometer. We immediately pulled onto the chassis dyno and made a series of pulls, the best of which netted 296.4 rear-wheel horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 292 lb-ft of grunt at 5,000 rpm. That's not bad, but we were eager to see what the blower would bring to the table.
The intercooled Magna Charger kit comes with absolutely everything you'll need to complete the installation, plus a bound, 44-page book of illustrated instructions. The whole job can probably be done in a weekend, provided you have a competent helper and a good supply of suitable beverages.
The hood was removed, the negative battery terminal was disconnected, and the coolant was drained. The car was placed on a lift and the front wheels and tires were removed to provide access to the steering components. We removed the front antisway bar, loosened the two bolts holding the power-steering cooler, and disconnected the power-steering high- and low-pressure lines from the rack-and-pinion, being careful not to mess up the seals on the line ends.
The rack-and-pinion was unbolted and the four nuts holding the crossmember to the frame were loosened enough so we could pry it down on the driver side and slide out the rack-and-pinion unit to gain access to the harmonic balancer.
The blower kit comes with an additional package that includes a stepped drill bit, a reamer, a drilling jig, and a new GM balancer bolt. We bolted the jig in place and drilled two holes; half of each hole created a groove in the crank snout and the other half grooved the balancer. These holes were reamed, and a pair of short pins was driven in with a drift punch to make sure the balancer wouldn't spin on the crank. The washer on the new crank bolt retains them. To install the intercooler, the center section of the front spoiler was removed, and we held the heat exchanger in position and marked and cut a 1-inch hole on the radiator shroud to accommodate a length of hose. Mounting brackets were installed on the heat exchanger using the supplied carriage bolts, then the exchanger was bolted up and the hose connections were made.
We assembled the new coolant pump and mounted it in position on top of the frame extension. We needed to modify the spoiler by removing the upper rubber portion along the top edge of the mounting bracket to ensure the heat exchanger would get enough air. The spoiler was reinstalled and we got busy with the electrical connections for the coolant pump. We went topside to the fuse/relay center on the passenger side of the engine compartment and removed the B+ terminal cover.