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Everything You Need to Know About Superchargers for Your Corvette

Supercharger Heaven: How to choose the best blower for your Corvette

Rick Jensen Oct 12, 2015
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Supercharger Technology

The centrifugal and roots-type superchargers listed in this guide feature highly advanced compressor wheel and rotor technology. On the roots side, most aftermarket blowers now use Eaton’s 2.3-liter Twin Vortices Series (TVS) technology. These high-tech units use four-lobe rotors, high 160-degree twist angles, and big inlet and outlet ports that results in higher capacity, higher operating speeds, and thermal efficiency up to 75 percent across a wide operating range. And as this Eaton system saw production in the 2009-13 ZR1, they’re damn reliable to boot.

And centrifugal compressor wheels are always evolving as well. Vortech’s V-3 Si is a popular choice for first-time blower owners: it offers a high-efficiency impeller and compressor housing, a helical gear design with 3.6:1 step-up, and a self-contained lubrication design with an oil drain for easier installation and maintenance, as well as added reliability. It is up to 78% efficient, has a 1,150-cfm max flow rating, and can run up to 22 pounds of boost with supporting engine mods. All in all, the V-3 is perfect for the entry-level supercharger customer looking for up to 775 horsepower.

Intercooler Technology

While intercoolers are built right into a roots blower’s case, they’re often optional in centrifugal supercharger kits. An intercooler is just a core (in centrifugal systems, it looks like a radiator) or a “brick” (found in roots systems, located inside the unit itself and utilizing a heat exchanger core mounted elsewhere). Intercoolers can be of an air-to-air design, where airflow passes over the intercooler, or an air-to-liquid design, where a pump circulates liquid between the intercooler and the heat exchanger.

In theory, an intercooler’s job is simple: take the hot compressed air from the blower, turn it into cool, dense air before sending it to the engine, and exhibit virtually no pressure drop. But in reality, this job is very difficult: factors like engine bay and front end space constraints affect how large the core can be and how much piping is needed, airflow considerations for both the intercooler and the radiator affect the core’s mounting location, and the mounting location affects how many twists and turns the piping has to make.

While an intercooler is optional in some kits, we always recommend using them—especially if you run exclusively on pump gas. They will make the most power (or the same power at less engine-straining boost), and are highly effective in warding off engine-damaging detonation.

Kit Considerations

There are myriad factors to consider when considering a supercharger system. To make it less stressful, we offer the following advice:

One, decide if you’re ready for the added complexity and cost of a supercharger. Yes, you’ll be adding hundreds of horsepower, but you’ll also be turning your docile daily driver into a rubber-burning, point-and-shoot missile that eats tires and drinks petrol by the tankful when in boost. Yes, modern blowers can return decent mileage with a light right foot, and they’re as reliable as they’ve ever been. But they require more maintenance than a stock car, can send expensive drivetrain parts like clutches to an early grave—and don’t kid yourself about driving responsibly with huge power! And if you ever decide to sell your ride, instead of commanding a premium for a stock car, you’ll only recoup about a third of the cost of mods, and possibly scare off some buyers looking for a babied Vette that was “only driven to church on Sundays.” Just a few things to think about.

Two, decide on the type of supercharger: most enthusiasts will be doing lots of street driving and only minimal racing, so first think about how you use your car, and how you want to improve its performance. In general, roots blowers offer that instant-boost, instant-power feel, with less intense high-rpm power. And centrifugal blowers are a little softer down low, but build to intense mid-range and high-rpm power. We’ve driven both and love both, so if you don’t have an immediate favorite yet, keep reading.

Three, if applicable, decide on which performance level you want. Some blower kits offer several “levels” to choose from. The base kit offers the standard head unit and boost level, along with components like the base bypass valve. The base kit is usually all-inclusive, and in many cases it is emissions-legal, too. Mid-level kits can include a bigger head unit, fueling upgrades, an air intake, and different pulleys and ECU calibrations for owners wanting to make more power. And top-level kits (sometimes referred to as “tuner kits”) leave out fuel system pieces and tuning, and let you build and tune your blower system to your liking to make big power.

Four, research supercharger system prices, completeness, options, and any compromises that need to be made. As we just said, some kits are literally all-inclusive, including custom tuning and an upgraded fuel system, requiring no additional parts, and requiring no car mods like a replacement hood. But some kits require you to buy extra parts like an upgraded fuel system and to change or modify chassis supports, water pumps, steering racks, and hoods. And options like intercooling and head unit finishes can be considered, too. So be sure to research each kit: speak with each manufacturer’s tech guys (or your local blower installer), and search popular message boards for information and feedback. This way you can get a bead on exactly what all you need. Look into if the systems have a warranty, and if so, for how long and how many miles. Then you can calculate each kit’s price, and compare them.

Five, make your choice. When ordering, be sure to have your VIN, year, model, and trim info handy, as some manufacturers use that to provide you with the correct system. Ask if the company offers an extended warranty for your system. If you plan on having it installed by a mechanic, get it scheduled and provide him with as much information as possible (like instructions) beforehand. And if you plan on installing it yourself, make sure that you have all of the necessary tools to do the job.

And six, get that sucker installed, then go enjoy the joys of driving a forced-induction Corvette. Oh, and try not to fishtail it into a ditch, OK? These damn kids with their smartphone cameras are everywhere…

Supercharger Buyer’s Guide

Chevrolet Performance

Chevrolet Performance likes to swipe the best performance parts from GM’s bins, and sell ’em to hot rodders. And the supercharger that graced the LS9 engine is a great example.

LS9 Supercharger

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This blower is a big reason why the ZR1 Corvette pumped out 638 ponies: it’s an Eaton twin-rotor design that displaces 2.3 liters, and features coated, four-lobe rotors with 160-degree twist for high efficiency. And an integrated, dual-brick, air-to-liquid intercooler cools the compressed air before it’s ingested. On the mighty ZR1, this setup dropped the compressed air’s temp a whopping 140 degrees.

The blower includes the supercharger intake system, a cast cover and intercooler, 48-pound injectors, injector harness, and fuel rails, and a front pulley, throttle body, and gasket set.

Rotor/Compressor: 2.3 liter, twin 4-lobe rotors
Intercooler Type: integrated air-to-water
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: No Tuning
Kit Boost: 10.5 psi
Power Increase: N/A
Hood Change? No
Emissions legal? No
Part Number: 19244103
Price: $6,500

Notes: Requires Gen IV rectangular-port cylinder heads, additional components needed for installation.


Edelbrock

With a hot rodding history that spans over 70 years, Edelbrock is a legendary company built on innovation. And Corvette owners looking for more grunt should check out Edelbrock’s E-Force superchargers.

E-Force blowers are available for 2005-up LS2, LS3, LS7, and new LT1 applications, and in three performance levels: Stage 1 (Street, emissions-legal), Stage 2 (Track, with supporting mods), and Stage 3 (Professional Tuner, essential parts for a custom racing setup). All E-Force systems feature self-contained oiling, they’ll fit under your stock hood, and to top it off, Edelbrock offers a 3-year, 36,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

E-Force C6 Z06 Stage 1 System

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If your LS7 Z’s 505 horses ain’t cutting it anymore, Edelbrock’s Stage 1 E-Force blower can cram enough air into those cylinders to make 657 horses and 582 lb-ft of torque. The roots design and 12-inch intake runners create tire-melting torque at low rpm, while still adding over 150 ponies on the top end. This kit is tailor-made for the Z06, and includes an LS7-specific manifold and seamless integration to the factory dry-sump oiling system. Throw in its compatibility with the stock hood and its 50-state emissions-legal status, and you’ve got a killer blower system—just add tuning.

Rotor/Compressor: 2.3 liter, twin 4-lobe TVS rotors
Intercooler Type: integrated, bar and plate, air-to-water
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: Not included
Kit Boost: 6-8 psi
Power Increase: 152 hp, 112 lb-ft
Hood Change? No
Emissions legal? Yes
Warranty: 3 years, 36,000-mile limited powertrain
Part Number: 15720
Price: $7,655

Notes: for a Z06 kit with an included tune, choose part number 1572.

E-Force C7 Stingray Stage 1 System

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Even high-compression 2014-’15 LT1s can benefit from E-Force power—Edelbrock’s 1571 Stage 1 system bumps the Stingray’s power from 460 horses and 465 lb-ft to a whopping 624 horsepower and 600 lb-ft. And with that 3.5-inch pulley spun up, the torque tops 500 lb-ft just off idle, and stays above that number all the way to redline. Like Edelbrock’s other Stage 1 systems, the C7 kit is emissions-legal in 50 states and fits nicely under that stunning stock hood.

Rotor/Compressor: 2.3 liter, twin 4-lobe TVS rotors
Intercooler Type: integrated, bar and plate, air-to-water
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: Tuner included
Kit Boost: 7 psi
Power Increase: 164 hp, 135 lb-ft
Hood Change? No
Emissions legal? Yes
Warranty: 3 years, 36,000-mile limited powertrain
Part Number: 1571
Price: $7,635

Notes: Wet sump application; choose part number 1570 for dry-sump kit.


Magnuson

Magnuson has been building aftermarket superchargers since the 1970s. It offers two levels of roots-type superchargers: the MP2300 TVS, which has graced Corvette engine bays since the LS1 was new, and the new Heartbeat 2300 TVS system, which fits underneath stock Corvette hoods.

The new Heartbeat systems eschew the standard top-mount, downward-discharge, air-over-the-bypass-port roots design. Instead, it channels intake air directly into the rotors through an opened-up intake frontal area. And because minimizing heat soak and maximizing consistency was paramount, Heartbeat systems use cutting-edge intercoolers based on Formula 1 oil coolers.

Combined, these changes result in greatly increased efficiency—Heartbeat systems can make the same or slightly more power than before, at 3 psi less. The result is lower air intake temps, less strain on the engine, and emissions-legal performance.

C7 Stingray Heartbeat System

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With a C7 Heartbeat system pushing only 6 psi of boost, it makes 120 horses and 120 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels, which works out to be around 140 hp and 140 lb-ft at the flywheel. This combo is easily 50-state emissions legal, it fits under the stock hood, and it includes all necessary parts like a front-mount heat exchanger, intercooler pump, hoses, brackets, wiring, tuning, and full-color instructions.

Of course, if you want to push things harder this Heartbeat kit can fit throttle bodies as big as 108 mm—and Magnuson offers numerous pulley upgrades to up the boost.

Rotor/Compressor: 2.3 liter, twin 4-lobe TVS rotors
Intercooler Type: Integrated, twin dual-pass charge-air coolers
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: Not included
Kit Boost: 6 psi
Power Increase: 152 hp, 112 lb-ft
Hood Change? No
Emissions legal? Yes
Warranty: 3 years, 36,000-mile on supercharger hardware, 1 year limited electronics
Part Number: 01-23-62-171-TI
Price: $7,995

Notes: Heartbeat systems also available for LS3- and LS7-powered Corvettes.


Weiand

Weiand, which is part of the historic Holley umbrella dating back to the early 1900s, is proud to reintroduce the 6-71 and 8-71 superchargers. They’ve been redesigned for a nostalgic look that will look at home on everything from a cacklefest dragster to a new high-end build.

6-71 SBC/BBC System

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Weiand’s 6-71 blower kits use two-lobe rotors for maximum boost at lower rpm. All feature a new case, end plates, manifold, and snout. Billet belt tensioner components and V-belt pulleys round out the package. Kits are engineered to produce 10-12 psi of boost on small-blocks and 5-7 psi of boost on big-blocks, but are a simple pulley change away from pump gas or hardcore racing. All superchargers are built in Weiand’s state-of-the-art manufacturing cell, and each supercharger is 100 percent boost tested to help you squeeze out maximum power and efficiency.

Rotor/Compressor: 6-71
Intercooler Type: Non-intercooled
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: Not included
Kit Boost: 10-12 psi (SBC), 5-7 psi (BBC)
Power Increase: 50%, depending on engine
Hood Change? Yes
Emissions legal? No
Warranty: 90 days
Part Number: 7582
Price: $3,120

Notes: 34-tooth lower pulley, 38-tooth upper pulley, 11% underdrive. Shorter water pump required. Won’t work with 1984-up Corvette steering rack. Requires additional components for installation.


Vortech

Vortech Engineering has been building high-performance, high-quality superchargers and components for over 25 years. So regardless if your Vette is a street cruiser or a track monster, Vortech has you covered.

While Vortech’s V-3 head unit has been out for a while now, it’s still important to mention its internally lubricated design. And while the remainder of Vortech’s head units remain engine-oil lubricated, they offer numerous compressor trim sizes and power levels.

Unfortunately, Vortech doesn’t offer generation-specific Corvette systems anymore. However, thanks to the LS engine’s ubiquity, Vortech offers both EFI and carbureted versions of its popular LSX-Swap Kit. If your older Vette has an LS engine in it, be sure to check these kits out.

LSX-Swap EFI Kit

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Vortech Engineering’s Universal LSX-Swap Supercharging Systems let you push the popular LS engine’s power level even higher. The EFI systems are available in Standard (non charge cooled) or High Output (charge cooled) configurations, and with compressor options ranging from the 775hp-capable V-3 Si to the 950hp-capable V-1 Ti, to the 1,200+hp-capable V-7 YSi. Depending on your application, you can expect a 30-50 percent power increase right out of the box—even with a reasonable safety margin. And if you run a modified engine with supporting modifications, there’s much more power waiting to be unleashed.

Rotor/Compressor: V-3 Si
Intercooler Type: Non-intercooled
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: Not included
Kit Boost: 8-10 psi
Power Increase: 30-50%, depending on engine
Hood Change? N/A
Emissions legal? No
Warranty: 1 year limited
Part Number: 4GX218-010L
Price: $3,614

Notes: N/A

LSX-Swap Carbed Kit

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Vortech’s LSX-Swap Kit for carbureted applications is similar to its EFI kit, and includes a V-3 Si-trim head unit with a 10-rib, 3.60-inch pulley, supercharger drive assembly, billet aluminum mounting bracket and 3/8-inch steel supercharger mounting plate, manual belt tensioner and 10-rib belt, billet crank pulley and spacer, air inlet filter, Maxflow Race Bypass Valve with filter, aluminum tubing and silicone hoses, and high-grade hardware with instructions. At the base boost level, this system will make 30-75 percent more power than stock—but actual power gains will depend on the engine size.

Rotor/Compressor: V-3 Si
Intercooler Type: Non-intercooled
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: Not included
Kit Boost: 8-10 psi
Power Increase: 30-75%, depending on engine
Hood Change? N/A
Emissions legal? No
Warranty: 1 year limited
Part Number: 4GX218-020L
Price: $3,874.99

Notes: N/A

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A&A Performance

The supercharger market has shifted: years ago, most of the big blower companies were happy to build model-specific kits for each new Corvette generation. That’s not the case anymore. But there’s a silver lining: a few enterprising shops have picked up where the big boys left off—and they’re building Corvette supercharger kits that are better than ever.

One of those shops is A&A Corvette Performance. Back in the day, A&A—like other enthusiasts—got frustrated with the belt slip and overheating issues that were plaguing Corvette supercharger kits. So the company started modding Corvette kits in 2001, moving pulley locations and re-routing belts to fix those common problems. Eventually, A&A developed its own supercharger systems, featuring custom head unit brackets, intercoolers, tubing, and sheetmetal. And after years of refinement, A&A is now a Vortech Factory Authorized supercharger system manufacturer. The shop offers kits for C5s, C6s, and C7s, in both CARB-friendly and off-road flavors.

C7 Corvette Supercharger Kit

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A&A wasted no time getting a C7 kit together. It got the system installed in October 2013, and nailed down tuning on the tricky direct-injection LT1 by December 2013. This kit utilizes A&A’s Ram Air Intercooler design: it features a functional, integrated airscoop that provides optimum intercooler airflow, while not impeding airflow to the radiator. The C7 bracket comes completely assembled, and can be installed on the engine in a matter of minutes. A&A includes a new “SFI Approved” balancer with interchangeable pulleys as standard with its kits. And because Vette owners expect an aesthetically pleasing look, you won’t see any exposed welds or clunky-looking clamps here. And by the way, the standard kit can make just under 600 rear-wheel horses.

Rotor/Compressor: Proprietary V-3 Si
Intercooler Type: Custom bar and plate “Ram Air Intercooler”
Oiling System: Self contained
Tuning: Included
Kit Boost: 6-7 psi
Power Increase: Around 220 at the flywheel
Hood Change? No
Emissions legal? No
Warranty: 1 year, 12,000 miles limited
Part Number: AAC7SCKIT-01
Price: $5,000-up

Notes: Call for more info

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