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C6 Corvette Z06 Bolt-Ons - Z06 Stage 1 Upgrade

This Could Be The Econo Answer For The New SS Corvette

Walt Thurn Jun 30, 2010
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This could be one of the finest "Bad to the Bone" Corvettes you have ever seen! Craig Nicholson's MTI Stage I Z06 is now the ultimate cruiser.

The moniker "Blue Devil" is familiar to anyone following the performance aspirations within Corvette Engineering. Granted, while the new C6 Z06 is hot, the rumored '09 SS Corvette (or Blue Devil, Z07, or Stingray) with the brand-new LS9 at 650 hp is going to be a fireball. The car should produce around 546 rwhp. Production of this $100,000-plus supercharged Vette will probably be limited to 1,500 to 2,000 units during the first year of production. However, many Z06 owners don't want to wait or pay the premium that will be tacked on to this limited-edition Vette.

MTI Racing, located in Marietta, Georgia, is no stranger to building fast Corvettes. Owner Reese Cox was quick to seek and find the ample power hidden within the standard 505hp Z06. The car's computer is packed with torque management. Torque is the enemy of driveline durability-higher torque equals frequent warranty repairs. So the General uses the onboard computer to strictly regulate the amount of torque the LS-7 engine is allowed to produce. MTI Racing has found ways to retune the stock computer to allow the engine to produce more torque. They retune the Z06 while it's running on their in-house Dynojet chassis dyno. This dyno tuning produces nice gains in both horsepower and torque. They also discovered that Z06s, in particular, respond to long-tube headers and higher air-volume intake systems. After experimenting with their own black development Z06 (607rwhp/596 rwt), they now offer Stage I, II, and III upgrades to their Z06 customers.

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After the new Z06 made its baseline dyno run, the car was put on MTI Racing's lift. The technicians removed the factory header and exhaust system.

Corvette Fever was visiting MTI Racing when customer Craig Nicholson brought his new Z06 into the shop to have a Stage I package installed. When we say new, we are not kidding. Craig's black beauty was showing only 91 miles on its odometer. He had just picked the car up from a dealer 70 miles from MTI Racing's shop and drove it straight there.

The Stage I package includes:

* Callaway Honker cold-air induction system
* MTI Racing spark plug wires
* Denso iridium spark plugs
* 160/180-degree thermostat
* MTI Racing stainless steel long-tube headers
* Random Technologies high-flow catalytic converters
* Random Technologies stainless steel cross-pipe
* Custom engine program and dyno tune
* MTI Racing 1-year/12,000-mile limited warranty

The first stop for the new car was the dyno. Reese wanted to baseline the new car in order to document any gains from the new modifications. The best pull was 400.9 rwhp/385 rwt. We thought the pull was a little low for the Z06. When we asked Reese about this, he explained that the '07 model has more torque management than the '06.

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The factory headers have been removed. They are a standard four-into-one design. The cats are located near the header outlet for rapid heating during startup.

The next stop was to the lift so the MTI technicians could begin their transformation. The most time-consuming part of this job is the exhaust. Removing the factory headers/exhaust and installing the new system ate up most of the morning. The next step was installing the Callaway Honker air intake. All Z06s are fitted with an oil cooler that is located in front of the radiator fan shroud. The radiator shroud has to be removed and modified to accommodate the Honker. This requires removal of the oil cooler first. The remainder of the work went pretty quickly.

Once the work was completed, the car was returned to the dyno for tuning. Reese spent considerable time tuning the new car. He remapped the fuel curve, adjusted the torque management, and optimized the fuel/air ratio throughout the rev range. When he was satisfied, he made his final run. the car pulled an amazing 498.1 rwhp/471.7 rwt. This is close to 580 hp at the crank. Add a cam and headwork like Reese did to his development Z06, and you are in SS Corvette country!

Craig testdrove his new car and returned to the shop with a huge grin on his face. He recently sold his '06 Z06 and told us this car feels much stronger throughout the rev range. And by the way he left MTI Racing, we believe him!

The Stage I package costs $3,995, plus tax, installed. So if you are beginning to think your Z06 is not quick enough, pay MTI Racing a visit.



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