The textbook term for any fluid swirling rapidly around a center is a vortex. In an automotive sense, the name for a Z06 Corvette spinning a centrifugal blower is Vortech. But before we get into the details of this performance pump, you probably just want to know what it's like to stomp on the fun pedal, right?
So we'll put aside for now all that yadda-yadda about vorticity, plenum design, manifold pressure, and computer mapping and focus instead on one simple aspect: How does it feel at full throttle? When you goose the gas on a supercharged Z06, does it take off howling like a scalded dog, frying the hides like a house afire? Or is it more like the smooth surge an F-22 Raptor on takeoff?
That all depends on how loose the nut behind the wheel is. With a Vortech centrifugal supercharger, you can hit it like a jackhammer or spool it up like a turbine. If you spike the revs and dump the clutch, the tires will spin furiously, full of sound and released energy. Problem is, when you don't hook them up, your acceleration times will only be a tick or two quicker than those of a stock Z06.
On the other hand, if you feather the throttle, rolling on the power in a judicious manner, the experience is mind-bending-almost literally. We'll take an anatomical approach to describing the sensation, since the Z06 shown here is owned by Dr. Jim Spencer, a dentist in Concord, North Carolina. Spencer graciously provided his ride on an extended loan for Vortech's R&D phase. Thanks, Doc!
Start by visualizing the fluids in your head and neck, flowing smoothly up and down, feeding your brain and maintaining your equilibrium. Mash your right foot down-no, not too hard-and as the nose of the car slings forward, those fluids drain from your face, forced toward the nape of your neck and away from their natural destination. As your blood-brain barrier compresses aft, the horizon rushes up at you like a zoom lens going from macro to micro settings.
With a takeoff like this, who needs laughing gas? The delirious level of acceleration is more than any human has a right to experience, and it is utterly addictive. It's the sort of performance that can ruin you for life. Control the wheelspin, and you can expect a 0-to-60 mph times in the mid-to-high 3s. Nothing else quite satisfies after having this much power on tap. And you suddenly realize that you have a new best friend.
That's not just because a supercharged Z06 is so hellacious to drive. There are some other reasons to love this setup, even if they might sound a bit dry-literally. Gone is the cumbersome air-to-water intercooler, replaced by a new, easier-to-install, air-to-air unit.
As you'll see in the accompanying photos, bolting on the blower is a fairly straightforward proposition (just allow a couple days for the whole job). Once in place, the sound of the centrifugal system is remarkably subdued-no raucous Roots noise, no shrill whine of gears. At idle, the car is surprisingly stealthy, giving no clue as to what lurks under the hood. Called the V-2 SQ (for "Super Quiet") T-trim centrifugal supercharger, the unit delivers more than six pounds of boost to the LS7 V-8.
As for the bottom line, the Vortech kit goes for $6,695 with a satin finish, or $6,995 polished. It includes everything needed for installation: a T-trim supercharger, an air-to-air aluminum intercooler, a compressor-bypass valve, aluminum mounting brackets and hardware, a high-flow fuel pump, oversize fuel injectors, and even a specially programmed DiabloSport handheld programmer to re-flash the factory computer with the proper spark/fuel calibrations.
The result is an LS7 engine that cranks out a dyno-proven 635 horses while sipping 91-octane pump fuel. In addition, the 50-state smog-legal kit (CARB D-213-25) is optionally available with a three-year/36,000-mile powertrain warranty through Vortech's network of installers and new-car dealers.
One question remains: Does a Z06 even need a blower? Well, racer Danica Patrick complained in an Internet video about the lack of low-end grunt on a stock LS7 V-8. This Vortech kit oughta shut her up-fast.