As most any hot rodder knows (deep down), you shouldn't mess with your daily driver. But ultimately, we can't help ourselves. Having seen my fair share of fast Corvettes this year, temptation eventually became too great and I decided it was time to put my '05 Z51 daily driver under the knife. But well before we could add any power, or slap on a sticky set of tires and make some passes, this C6 would need a few driveline upgrades. Most notably, the rearend would need to be upgraded. The '05 model is known for many peculiar idiosyncrasies, but perhaps none more detrimental to a performance build than the particularly weak rear. Thankfully GM came up with its own heavy-duty upgrade in the production '06-and-up Z06 model, and then improved on that design even more with the ZR1 for 2009. Given our plans, though, the Z06 piece should be more than adequate and RPM Transmissions was happy to help us convert our rear to the more track-ready version. RPM is the shop to call for C5 or C6 trans or rear conversions and builds; laying claim to two of the fastest C5 and C6s still sporting IRS.
With RPM's conversion kit, micropolished 3.42 (stock ratio) gears, and an OS Giken limited-slip differential we felt confident that after a weekend of track abuse, we'd still be driving the C6 into work on Monday. In case you are wondering, the stock gear ratio was kept to maintain the Vette's respectable fuel mileage (17.5 mpg average, 30+ on the highway), and the clutch-style OS Super Lock LSD was chosen for optimum torque distribution on the road course as well as durability. OS Giken uses 28 friction plates to increase the locking force and completeness, and in achieving a full lock less heat is generated. With the reduction in heat from the micropolished gears and the diff, I hoped the rear would stay quiet as a church mouse on the many highway miles, dragstrip passes, laps on the road course, and maybe even a stint at the standing mile without so much as a change in fluids.
While the rear and trans were out of the car, it seemed a waste not to swap the stock clutch with something more capable for a future "boost" to the LS2's performance. With only 45,000 miles the stock clutch had plenty of life in it, but it couldn't compare to RAM's Force 9.5 Street Dual Disc (PN 75-2100) in terms of torque capacity. The one thing both clutches did have in common was pedal effort and feel, something very important on a car in daily use-even more so with a driver that has at least one severe knee injury in his past. Much like the ZR1's twin disc, RAM's version manages to maintain the civility we have come to demand of our street cars while handling up to 800 lb-ft of torque. Since our future plans for the C6 were to rival GM's newest bad boy, it was only fitting that we used similar means to do so.
The one departure from "stock-like" parts chosen for this build was MGW's Billet Short Throw Shifter. The reason being that no OEM would take the time and expense to build something quite this beefy. Anodized aircraft grade and billet aluminum as well as aircraft grade stainless steel throughout, plus a substantial dust and noise boot, put this shifter in exclusive company. MGW replaces every part of the OEM shifter with upgraded components, including the transmission linkage sphere to eliminate any of the slop you have been struggling against stock. Lock washers, thread lock bolts, installation CD, and a variety of handles for different shift knobs make this a complete package. Like other MGW shifters, the C6 version is known for being a happy meeting ground between the ultra-notchy aftermarket shifters we've been accustomed to and the vague yet smooth stock ones. Follow along as AntiVenom once again comes through in recommending and installing all of the above products in record time, and with the utmost care.