We have something of a history with ProCharger, having been the first magazine to publish articles on the Kansas-based manufacturer's centrifugal blowers for LS1, LS2, LS3, LS6, and LS7 Corvette engines. It should come as no surprise, then, that when the company's latest Vette-specific kit-a complete, bolt-on setup for the '09 Z06-broke cover, we were keen to take a closer look.
In addition to being the newest member of ProCharger's Corvette product line, the kit's debut also marks the first time the firm has offered an all-encompassing blower package for the C6 Z06. (Previous kits have been of the "tuner" variety, minus fuel injectors and PCM programming.) While the tuner-kit approach works fine in cases where the installer is also experienced in the arcane realm of custom computer tuning, the addition of a safe, prepackaged tune and properly sized injectors can only help spread the gospel of intercooled boost to a larger group of Corvette congregants.
Like all of ProCharger's C5 and C6 offerings, the Z06 kit comes standard with a fully polished finish. In fact, the only option is a new helical gearset, which cuts the system's characteristic blower whine to a virtually imperceptible level. (Don't worry: The standard unit is still offered for the extroverted.) According to ProCharger's Jeff Lacina, the company has also recently reengineered the bracketry on its LS Corvette systems to help keep the blower belt securely wrapped around the pulleys.
Huffing a mere 4.5 psi through the big LS7, the kit is said to inflate output from the stock 505 hp to as much as 700 horses at the crankshaft. Lacina tells us the Z's stock fuel pump is perfectly adequate at this level, though some tuning shops have elected to upgrade the pump and run an extra pound or two of boost. (Given the LS7's stratospheric compression ratio of 11:1 and notoriously frangible pistons, we'd recommend sticking with the included 4.5-psi pulleys and pursuing any additional power gains through exhaust and valvetrain upgrades.)
Power levels like that soon had us pondering whether a ProCharged Z06 might represent a (relatively) cost-effective alternative to the current Corvette-performance champ, the $107,000 ZR1. Brand loyalty notwithstanding, the fact is that many a Z06 owner was none too thrilled to see his 198mph supercar relinquish its King of the Hill status to an even super-er new model. Might it be possible to reestablish horsepower primacy for considerably less than the cost of a trade-in? We would endeavor to find out.
In a rare instance of editorial serendipity, the first of the new Z06 kits rolled off the assembly line just days before the yearly Performance Racing Industry (PRI) confab in Orlando. Since Lacina and engineer Nick Schmidt were already in Central Florida for the show, it was a simple matter for the pair to shoot down I-4 and perform the install at our in-house shop in Tampa. We'll keep you in suspense as to the final output numbers, but suffice it to say that the ZR1's crown looks to have lost some of its luster. Follow along now as we take an in-depth look at what's involved.