The good folks in Bowling Green had barely finished pushing the first production C7 Stingray out the door before Lingenfelter Engineering Performance (LPE) snagged one for research and development. More than one, actually.
Indeed, while most people were still coming to grips with the Stingray’s rhomboid tail lamps, Lingenfelter’s engineers and technicians in Decatur, Indiana, had already yanked the car’s LT1 engine and were testing different camshaft grinds and ported heads on it. Since then, the company has since introduced a number of LT1 engine upgrades ranging from a naturally aspirated 550-horsepower package to a take-no-prisoners, twin-turbo stroker rated at 1,000 horses.
The LPE crew even developed a “stage” kit for the Z06 model, which nudges its 650 pressurized ponies to 720 hp with a pulley-size change and other enhancements. That’s all well and good for those who waited for the factory-supercharged Z06 to go into production, but what about those antsy Stingray owners who just had to be the first on the block with a C7, and now find themselves in the grips of blower envy?
LPE’s got that covered, too. In the middle of that menu of LT1 upgrades are a couple of packages that employ an Edelbrock E-Force supercharger, and that’s just what we sampled in the red rocket-ship R&D Stingray seen here. In addition to the force-fed Gen V small-block engine, the car is distinguished by unique exterior features that include a new hood and wider fenders out back. The flared rear quarters extend 2 inches per side beyond the factory Stingray fenders, enabling the massive, 335mm-wide rubber from the Z06 to be squeezed within the confines of the bodywork.
No, it’s not exactly the IMSA-inspired wide-body styling of those Greenwood conversions from the 1970s, but it’s still a significant change over the factory look. Moreover, the voluptuous contours of the replacement rear quarter panels add subtly sexy flair to the car’s overall appearance. (Note that the flared fenders and extractor-style carbon-fiber hood seen here were still undergoing evaluation for production as we went to press, so they may not be available through the company’s website when this issue hits mailboxes and newsstands.)
“Functional aesthetic enhancements have long been part of our Corvette program, dating back to the C4 generation. [W]hile we’re still determining whether these items are the right products for our portfolio from a performance standpoint, we’re also listening to the reaction to the development car from our customers,” says Ken Lingenfelter, the head honcho and chief check signer at LPE.
For the record, those widened quarters are filled with 335/25ZR20 Continental tires stretched over Forgeline wheels. The front tire size is 245/35ZR19.