Once upon a time concerns over exhaust emissions were non-existent, gas contained lead and even mom's Impala made 375 horsepower. But that was the past. Today's powerplants don't tolerate lead and are forced to make power with less octane and more environmental restraints. Dropping in a massive cam and high-rise intake manifold are not options for these computer controlled Chevy's. With a growing segment of today's Bow-Tie buffs investing in late model rides, speed parts have made their way into the mainstream hot rod scene now more than ever. It is for this reason that cutting edge manufacturers such as Borla, Granatelli Motor Sports and Holley Performance bring us smog legal speed parts, with bolt-on ease.
Seeing as the basic design of the internal combustion engine has remained the same, we decided to do the work for you and figure out what makes power. The stock LS1 is virtually an untapped power machine. Our bone stock '02 Z28 traveled to Morgan Motorsports, in Reseda, California, where it produced a stout 304 rear-wheel horsepower, a number grossly exceeding Chevrolet's claims. With the '02 still connected to the dyno, we added a Granatelli MAF sensor, Holley Power Shot air filter and Granatelli Cold Air lid, which, all tolled, produced an astounding 19 rear-wheel horsepower in a matter of minutes.
Through canyon carving and daily driving we noticed improvements in throttle response as well as fuel economy. The results that really count showed up at L.A. County Raceway, where the '02 picked up 3 mph in trap speed and shaved .15 of a second in the quarter.
Our trick to unleashing power in this modern F-body was a modified Air/Fuel ratio and less restrictive intake path, which increased total air volume. While we sacrificed no reliability or driveability, we gained power and maintained 50-state smog legality.
Tune in for Part II when we rock and rumble with a Borla Stainless Steel Exhaust, and 50-state legal shorty headers from Hooker.