Turbo kits are comparatively rare, when compared with the plethora of supercharger systems on the market. That's because, unlike most bolt-on blowers, which easily can be adapted to a variety of vehicles, turbo kits present unique challenges. There's more to contend with in the routing of inlet and outlet tubing between the exhaust manifolds, turbocharger(s), and engine intake.
At a minimum, major changes are required of the exhaust system. Of course, all that plumbing changes for a different vehicle, whereas adapting a Roots blower, for example, requires comparatively minor revisions to suit the accessory drive and intercooler mounting.
To put it simply, turbo kits are expensive to engineer and produce, but many enthusiasts prefer the higher-rpm application of power, the adjustability of the performance, and the on-demand power that doesn't compromise daily driving characteristics. Often, enthusiasts must rely on custom-designed systems-and hope the shop they've entrusted their car with knows what it's doing.
Decatur, Indiana-based Lingenfelter Per-formance Engineering's (LPE) solution to turbo systems is a hybrid of sorts, which blends the attributes of a fully engineered kit with the precision fitment of a custom system. The company has designed Corvette-specific kits, but it fits them individually to each vehicle for a more accurate and precise installation-much like a custom-tailored suit versus a "close enough" off-the-rack one. LPE also rebuilds the engine to make it boost-friendly, including forged-aluminum, lower-compression pistons and an upgraded rotating assembly.
"There are enough vehicle-to-vehicle variances that we feel our method is the best at ensuring the best installation and a more robust engine," says LPE's Jeff Myers. "And typically one of the side benefits is, most customers report better fuel economy in normal everyday driving."
We recently visited LPE's shop to follow the installation of the company's twin-turbo system on a C6 Z06. In fact, it was the blue Specter Werkes/Sports GTR Z06 that wowed SEMA attendees last fall and was previewed in VETTE earlier this year. With the 505hp LS7 as the foundation, LPE rates the system at a stunning 800 hp. Notably, the kit sacrifices nothing in driveability, such as air conditioning, power amenities, and the like.
LPE's system uses a pair of medium-size Garrett ball-bearing turbos and an air-to-air intercooler. The turbos are mounted low in the engine compartment, which helps minimize underhood heat. The mid-size hairdryers also offer an optimum combination of tremendous airflow and minimal lag. In fact, lag is, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent here. The turbos spool quickly and deliver a smooth yet incredibly forceful application of power.
Here are the basic elements of the system: • Two Garrett GT30-series turbochargers • Custom exhaust manifolds • Custom air-to-air charge cooler • Upgraded fuel system • Kenne Bell Boost-A-Bump • Upgraded oil cooler • Custom oil-scavenging system • Custom Corsa/Specter Werkes low-restriction exhaust system • Reprogrammed factory controller.
Although boost in any turbo system is tunable, the base LPE system delivers about 10-12 pounds to help the 7.0-liter engine produce 800 horses. The turbo system isn't installed until after the rebuilt engine is lowered into place. We should note, too, that our photos provide an overview of the installation. There are far more details than we have room to show, but what we've shown here provides an excellent glimpse into the major components and procedures involved.
We can't emphasize enough how impressed we are with the engineering, fit, and finish of the system. The routing of the various lines and hoses is exceptional. Many of the lines and connectors are carefully measured and custom-tailored, delivering a precision appearance that looks as if the technicians are working on fighter jets. Items like the intake duct to the throttle body are created specifically for each vehicle, for a fit and appearance that exceeds the factory in most regards. To put it simply, it is a world-class setup.
If you're wondering what a custom-fitted, 800hp twin-turbo system costs, have a seat and take a deep breath. The base price is about $46,000, including removal/rebuilding of the original engine, installation of the turbo system and dyno tuning, and a three-year/36,000-mile warranty. No, that ain't cheap in anybody's book, but 800 hp is race-car-level performance, and there are many racing engines that cost far more and make considerably less power.
"The performance range of this combination is astounding," says Myers. "It drives like a stock Corvette in most driving conditions, but when you call on those turbos, most people will run out of nerve before the engine reaches its full potential. You have to feel it to really understand, but this is power like nothing you've experienced in a street car."
We're not here to debate the value equation of the price. We're here to show you what goes into making it possible. We're keeping our words to a minimum here, too, in order to show you more of the installation details in the accompanying photos.
There's nothing like the rush of a twin-turbo system, and Lingenfelter's is among the best we've encountered. If we could only get a $50,000 pay advance from the HR department, we'd order one up ourselves.