The Point of No Return

Also from Issue 38

  • 1968 Sunray DX L88 racer
  • Market Report: C2
  • 1954 market analysis
  • History: Shinoda’s Monza show cars
  • Comparison Test: C4 ZR-1 vs. C6 Z06
  • 1996 Grand Sport coupe
  • History: Disc brakes
  • Racing: Pratt & Miller factory tour
  • How-To: Muncie gearbox rebuild, Part I
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ECS rewrote the engine codes one more time, this time via EFI Live. After that the car was strapped to the ECS dyno for testing and final tuning. “I felt we’d see something above 700 horsepower,” Schron recalls. That number came up immediately, even at a conservative 12 psi. Additional software tweaks and a slow push to 15 psi resulted in 834 rear-wheel horsepower and an impressively flat torque curve that peaked at 822 lbs-ft.

From the outside, this Electron Blue Z06 certainly doesn’t scream, “Look at me—I’ve got more power than four Cessnas.” In fact the vented Haltech Stinger hood, front-plate intake, and flush-mounted taillights are the only changes Jay made to the body. HRE billet wheels—measuring 17×9.5 and 18×11 inside Toyo Proxes RA1s—hide crossdrilled Baer rotors clamped by Z06 calipers, but for the most part the chassis stayed stock.

Schron dismissed going hog-wild with interior mods as well. (“The stock C5 interior is crappy, frankly, but I decided to leave it alone,” he says.) Instead, he funnelled additional cash into a super-high-end stereo system. “As an au­dio aficionado, I was never really satisfied with the stock Bose setup.” The Corvette went to Cartronics in Glen Rock NJ for installation of components hand-picked by Jay: an Alpine IDA X001 head unit, XM receiver, six-CD changer, Focal Utopia 165W speakers, Stinger interconnects, and JL Stealth subwoofer, all driven by Zapco Competition amps. Cartronics also hardwired in a K40 ra­dar/laser-detector unit and a Blitz R-Spec turbo controller.

After all that work, one question remains: What makes a guy build a traction-limited, insurance-endangering, 830+ bhp street car in the first place? “It just sort of happened,” Jay smiles. “When you add the right pieces, ad­dress all of the internal stress issues, and make very few compromises, the horsepower just keeps coming up.” While there’s clearly more power still to be found in the engine, he adds, there’s little point trying to get it. “It’s unusable beyond a certain point. With an independent rear suspension, you just can’t put the power down to the ground.”

Sure enough, even when track-prepped (which means skinny front tires and 26-inch M/T rear slicks) and given conservative 1500-rpm launches, traction is the car’s limiting factor. At 15 psi it’s “nearly undrivable” be­yond the 660-foot mark, Schron reports; reducing the boost to 12 psi makes the run more controllable, with Schron seeing sub-10.4 quarters at nearly 140 mph. The team knows that faster times would result from more aggressive rear-drive hardware and race-style launches, but Jay is “…not interested in snapping the torque tube or getting into the whole money-pit of drag racing. I’ve done that before.”

In Jay’s eyes, the car is already enough of a handful. “Since the motor is stroked, there’s so much torque down low that it body-slams you into the seat and pins you there until you come out of boost. It’s like a rocket. The active handling gets overwhelmed pretty quickly, too, because the computer can no longer cut back on the power, which is the way that I wanted it. It’s a great toy—you just have to be very cognizant of what you’re doing. It’s easy to go from 55 to 130 on the turnpike if you’re not paying attention. You can’t be crazy with it.”

Amazingly, in the two years since East Coast Supercharging and Schron finished the car, everything has kept working flawlessly. That reliability, Jay feels, is a testament to the thoroughness of their concept and execution.

“I’m confident I could hop in it and drive straight to California without any problems, and on the highway in sixth gear I’d get 32 mpg!” His only plans for further mods are to add an extra oil cooler and a custom three-inch exhaust setup. Neither item is necessary, he realizes, but this project passed the point of di­minishing returns years ago. Since his first and only Corvette won’t be up for sale anytime soon, all that matters is making it the very best it can be.