One thousand horsepower at the wheels—just saying it conveys a feeling of superiority. It's even more menacing when that same Corvette makes that much power and still carries the label of street car. Don't cry foul just yet, because thanks to modern technology, LS-powered Vettes are now capable of cracking the magical 1,000-rwhp barrier, cruising the streets, and gulping down premium pump fuel. If you don't believe us, just call East Coast Supercharging (ECS) in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, and it will be more than happy to prove the point many times over. We got the lowdown on two C6 Z06 rides that were recently completed for a couple of customers who wanted a no-compromise combination that could take on all challengers. ECS tore into the cars and performed what is unofficially known as the Hardcore package.
ECS tuner and front man Doug Ring lays it out simply: "This package will allow you to drive from here to Florida without a problem and still knock down mid-20 mpg." The question we kept asking was, How did we get here? Ring was more than happy to open up the ECS cookbook to show off the Hardcore recipe. Cutting right to it, the combination's fundamentals are simple: a 427ci stroker engine with a great set of cylinder heads, an ECS supercharger system (Vortech YSi-trim head unit), an ample fuel supply, a mild camshaft, and a custom ECS tune.
Getting to this level of performance on the street and track didn't happen overnight. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the research and development that took place on the company's in-house test mule, a C5 convertible that has seen countless hours on the dyno, thousands of miles on the street, and hundreds of runs down the quarter-mile. The on-track efforts paid off, as Ring and the gang at ECS discovered the right blend of power without sacrificing driveability. This combination is sold as a package because it all works together. Ring chose the RHS LS Race block as the starting point.
The RHS block is molded from A357-T6 aluminum material and is thick in certain areas for strength. The lower end has extra clearance for massive stroker crankshafts, and the tall-deck version is capable of being punched out to a massive 510 ci. Billet main caps ensure the crank doesn't walk around under high loads. A Callies 4.000-inch-stroke steel crank has R&R billet rods and Diamond pistons swinging from it. The bores were opened up to 4.125 inches, bringing final displacement to 427 ci. (The final displacement of V-8 engines is calculated using the formula Bore x Bore x Stroke x 6.2832.)
Making horsepower is about airflow, and ECS turned to Mast Motorsports for a set of its six-bolt LS7 305cc cylinder heads. The heads are stuffed with 2.25-inch intake valves and 1.600-inch exhaust valves. The airflow at 0.600-inch lift is an insane 379 cfm with a 305cc intake port. The exhaust side is just as impressive, as it moves 243 cfm through the port at the same valve lift. Valve angle is listed as 12 degrees.
The ECS camshaft is described as the Bigger Cam, and according to Ring, it's in the mid 230s for duration and under 0.600-inch lift. Its mild nature provides a smooth idle that isn't rough and doesn't cause bucking in the low-rpm range during part-throttle action. The car drives just like any other warmed-over, LS-powered Vette. A stock LS7 intake manifold sits on top of the engine, and air is crammed through a factory throttle body, which, according to Ring, is a big contributor to the car's mild street manners.
Forced induction plays a major roll, and ECS added its in-house supercharger system, which utilizes a Vortech YSi-trim supercharger head unit and front-mounted intercooler. Boost is set at 19 psi, and belt slippage doesn't exist, thanks to the ECS 10-rib-pulley drive system. An ECS/Alky Control Methanol System with two nozzles is utilized, and as Ring puts it, "The meth is basically race fuel on demand."
The system is a progressive setup that is boost-referenced so it only sprays meth when needed. "The meth lowers the IAT [inlet air temperatures] and helps meet fuel demand under high boost, yet allows us to tune the low end on pump gas. It plays a big part in these builds," adds Ring.
One thousand seventy horsepower at the tires works out to approximately 1,175 hp at the crankshaft, and the factory ECU controls it all. It wasn't long ago that a fancy aftermarket EFI system would be required to control the 95-lb/hr fuel injectors, but that isn't the case anymore. "These cars tune just like the rest of our lower-boost cars—just with more boost and fuel. The tuning is a bit more tedious, but nothing you wouldn't expect with this amount of power," says Ring.
ECS relies on EFI Live to manipulate the factory computer system. "I'd say the largest advancement has been in the tuning ability that we have with the newer and faster PCMs. The fact that a factory computer can keep up with the demands of this kind of build is amazing."
ECS just doesn't stuff an engine under the hood; the company also adds a heavy-duty clutch from Mantic, as well as a complete fuel system to feed the beast. The suspension gets a makeover that includes a Pfadt coilover package and Pfadt Street sway bars. Naturally, if the customer wants to go drag racing, a full rollcage is required. ECS also has an automatic transmission conversion for those who are really serious about quarter-miling. Both cars we scoped out had Nitto NT05 rubber all around to help traction on the street.
Ring sums up the experience: "These cars are owned by customers who live in the New York/New Jersey metro area. That means that in addition to meeting the customers' power goals, each Corvette had to be capable of idling in traffic while staying cool and have a smooth clutch engagement. The A/C has to work, the car has to drive well and tolerate low rpm, as well as hard high-rpm pulls. It can't act like an old-school race car and needs to have good street manners. Thanks to advancements in components and tuning, each drives a like normal Corvette—except they just happen to be much, much faster."