Let me stomp right out to the edge of the thin ice: Fuel-rail covers are lame. I don't care if they're stock, airbrushed, chrome, stainless steel, carbon fiber, or (worse yet) fake carbon fiber; they're god-awful. What was clearly a perfunctory attempt by GM to un-uglify the C4's LT1 engine way back in 1992 has turned into a full-fledged underhood fashion faux pas of unprecedented proportion. For whatever reason, hordes of otherwise levelheaded Corvette enthusiasts now think it fashionable to drape their engines with garish covers. It's not right, people! [Are you really going to do this to me again?-Ed.]
There's a better way of making your LSX engine look as good as it performs. A few months ago, I briefly introduced you to Nasty Performance when I installed the company's billet fuel-rail kit as part of Daytona 600's E85 conversion. This time around, I'm bolting on a pair of Nasty's beautifully machined billet-aluminum valve covers.
But this isn't engine dress-up solely for the sake of fashion. The Nasty covers' main reason for existence is that they're taller and provide the clearance needed for aftermarket roller rockers. Roller rockers make sense when your stock units start spitting out their needle bearings, which they're widely known for.
Another benefit of the Nasty covers is that they relocate the ignition coils up off of the valve covers, which better isolates them from engine heat. Heat is the enemy of all things electronic, and the LS engine's coils are no different. Nasty's setup uses billet mounting brackets to elevate them off the face of the cover, creating an air gap beneath. The Nasty covers are fully customizable, including your choice of oil filler, breather holes, stock or relocated coil mounting, and even a variety of finishes. Nasty offers fabricated sheetmetal valve covers for all-out race applications as well.
Even though GM did a bang-up job engineering the OEM coils, there's still room for innovation. The trick is to figure out how to integrate the drivers that are built into the stock units. MSD Ignition, the only company to accomplish this, has designed an advanced coil set (currently available for LS1, LS2, and LS6 Vettes) that communicates perfectly with the factory PCM. It also provides a higher-output spark, along with the multiple sparks that MSD is famous for. Multiple sparks to the combustion chamber create more complete combustion at idle and low rpm, theoretically enhancing fuel economy and low-end torque. Traditionally, this could only be accomplished by using one of MSD's ignition-control boxes.
Looking at the accompanying pictures, you may notice a second connector molded into the coil body. This is for the company's forthcoming plug-and-play ignition controller. In the meantime, you'll need to use the supplied jumper harness.
The finishing touch for this install is a set of MSD Ignition Super Conductor plug wires. Part of what makes these wires so good is their incredibly low resistance, which ensures that all available spark energy reaches the plugs. The outer sleeve that surrounds the conductor assembly is a proprietary blend of silicone and synthetic material that's highly resistant to heat, as well as abrasion and tears.
Lastly, all MSD spark plug wires feature "Dual Crimp" terminals. As the name implies, each terminal features two crimps: one for the sleeve of the wire and another to grasp the conductor, providing an extremely secure crimp and reducing the likelihood of spark arcing through the boot. MSD is so confident in these terminals that it warrants each factory-crimped wire against "pulling off" for five years. The MSD 8.5mm Super Conductor Plug Wires are available in stock lengths for a simple OEM upgrade or the longer version shown here for coil-pack-relocation projects. They're even available in unfinished form if you wish to build your own. Installation of the Nasty valve covers and MSD coils is a simple project you can complete with just a handful of basic tools in less than an hour. They'll give your engine a stand-out look in a sea of plastic-covered atrocities. [Are you done now?-Ed.]
The completed install looks very clean, with no goofy plastic covers in sight. Expect to spend no more than an hour on the project.