Supercharged LSX Engine Build - A New Level

A ProCharged Z06 pushes output to the extreme

Jay Heath Apr 25, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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With factory performance levels continuing to chart an upward trajectory into the troposphere, it's increasingly difficult to build a speed-modded Corvette capable of reliably slackening jaws at the weekly club night or cruise-in. But while opinions may vary slightly as to what constitutes the "new normal" among the horsepower elite, a figure of 1,000 ponies seldom fails to elicit the desired outbreak of hushed awe and wholesale gawping.

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Dave Cell took a significant step toward dyno-sheet superstardom early last year when he installed one of ProCharger's new P-1SC blower kits on his Atomic Orange '09 Z06, a process we covered in detail in our July '10 issue ("Air to the Throne"). Thus fortified, the car cooked up a rousing 583 horses and 512 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels, handily outpointing its uplevel sibling, the ZR1, in both measures.

For most Corvette enthusiasts, that would have been a logical stopping point, but Cell—a former GM powertrain engineer—soon found himself dreaming up ever more outrageous forced-induction engine combinations for his daily driven Z. When his febrile imaginings finally coalesced around a supercharged, 1,000hp mill capable of withstanding the rigors of top-speed, standing-mile, and open-road racing, Cell set about compiling a list of hardware upgrades needed to make that dream a reality.

The first piece to come in for scrutiny was the blower itself. While the P-1SC head unit already installed on the car was ideally suited to its intended mission—namely, inflating the output of street/strip cars equipped with stock or lightly modified engines—it was never intended to support the Can-Am–quality power levels Cell hoped to achieve with his new combo. ProCharger's Jeff Lacina recommended a step up to the company's F-1A supercharger, a larger, race-oriented unit that also happened to be compatible with Cell's existing bracketry. An eight-rib drive—to keep the belts wrapped tightly at high rpm—completed the simple-but-effective blower upgrade.

Next up was the engine itself. For all its putative "race-inspired engineering," the LS7—with its frangible rod configuration and high-compression cast pistons—makes a singularly poor forced-induction motor when high boost levels are required. Since Cell's recipe called for up to 16 psi of puff from the new ProCharger setup, a replacement mill was clearly in order.

Vemp 1106 02 Supercharged LSX Engine 3/23

After weighing his options, Cell settled on an iron LSX cylinder block from GM Performance Parts to undergird his new combination. Topped with ported GMPP LSX-LS7 heads and assembled by Fast Forward Racing Engines in Zephyrhills, Florida, the bombproof LSX casing should prove more than capable of withstanding the sustained full-throttle torture sessions to which Cell is sure to subject it.

There were, of course, innumerable other upgrades and fortifications required to support the new combo, most of which we've attempted to address in the accompanying photos and buildsheet. As you'll see, wringing 1,000 hp out of a reliable, street-worthy package requires a patient, holistic approach to engineering that is quite at odds with the zeitgeist of instant gratification promoted in many Internet forums and, yes, magazine articles. No, the new normal doesn't yield itself readily to quick fixes, but for those willing to follow a meticulously conceived build plan like the one outlined here, the payoff should prove well worth the wait.




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