GM's current lineup of LS-badged powerplants represent the pinnacle of OHV engine technology, combining class-leading output and fuel efficiency in a simple, lightweight, easy-to-manufacture package. The lone downside to this function- over-form approach to vehicular motivation may be found in the area of engine-bay aesthetics, where even the blower-topped, $111,000 Corvette ZR1 falls well short of competitive offerings from Ferrari, Aston, and Maserati.
But while cost and manufacturing considerations may prevent the C6 from ever flaunting the sinuous, red-crackle intake runners and delicate carbon latticework found under the hoods of its pricier rivals, that shouldn't keep a style-conscious Corvette owner from striving to present his or her engine compartment in the best possible light.
It's precisely that kind of thinking that inspired the creation of Billet Custom Products (BCP), the latest--and arguably the most ambitious--entrant in the growing field of high-end cosmetic enhancements for late-model Corvette engines. The firm's signature offering is a set of billet-aluminum LS valve covers, built to the exacting standards one would expect from an outfit with BCP's background.
"We recently celebrated our 30th year in business at Santourian Manufacturing Inc. [BCP's parent concern]," explains company principal Bruce Santourian. "We build for the aerospace, medical, and commercial industries [and] are heavy into supporting General Atomics Aeronautical's Predator UAV program.
"Our valve covers are a special, high-end item--maybe not made to fit everyone's budget, but made to be the best-looking and most-functional product we can build."
And indeed, at between $550 and $899 per pair (depending on features), these automotive objets d'art are the very definition of high end. But before you aspirate your Hubba Bubba, consider that the BCP covers feature one-piece billet construction, weigh an impressive 2.3 pounds less than the stockers, and--best of all--look like something straight out of a MoMA exhibit on the modern automobile. That they share a production lineage with the Hellfire-equipped drones that vaporized Anwar al-Awlaki and scores of other terrorist dastards is just an added bonus.
Optional features include full interior baffling (for better oil control in supercharged applications), a "tall" configuration (to accommodate aftermarket rocker arms), and a choice of finishes (finned or smooth, machined or show polished). The package comes virtually complete, with all required hardware, a container of Mother's aluminum polish, and the most impressive set of installation instructions we've ever seen for a product of this type. In fact, all you'll need to supply are a fresh pair of GM gaskets and perhaps an hour of free time in order to effect installation on your '99-'12 LS1, 2, 3, 6, 7, or 9 Corvette.
Fashion plates that we are, we rounded up a set of show-polished BCP covers and recruited longtime coconspirator Greg Lovell--of Seffner, Florida-based Vette tuner AntiVenom--to bolt them onto an otherwise-stock LS3. Although the engine was on a stand at the time of the project, Lovell made sure all of the supporting lines and hoses were attached so as to present an accurate representation of a typical in-car install. (The engine is slated to be shoehorned into a '99 fixed-roof coupe in the near future, at which time we'll snap some follow-up photos of the installed BCP covers.) Follow along now as we dress this LS to kill.