Point of View

Can a Corvette really have too much power? This supercharged C5 forces the question.

October 1, 2009

Also from Issue 52

  • Hand-controlled 2007 Z51
  • 1961 restoration
  • Market Report: C4
  • Tech: Carbon fiber
  • 1990 Lister Corvette
  • 1958 Lister Corvette
  • 1969 L88 convertible
  • Racing: 24 Hours of Le Mans
  • How-To: C3 trailing arms
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How do you view things? Are you a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type? Or do you just throw caution to the wind and overflow the glass? What we have here is the automotive equivalent of a cup seriously runneth over. If you have a new ZR1 in the garage, you best keep it there because this C5’s monster engine puts out 783 horsepower—at the rear wheels, on pump gas. Numbers? You want more numbers? How does a quarter-mile trap speed of 141 mph sound? And that was achieved without using the car’s nitrous bottle, and with an idler pulley that called it quits half-way down the strip. This Corvette also boasts 710 lbs-ft of torque. Yet it’s docile enough to trundle off to the grocery store on a daily basis. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too.

Arizona resident Drew Johnson bought this car as an unmolested 1999 Z51-equipped hardtop in late 2004. It was his first Corvette. While he was impressed with the job Bowling Green had done, he felt that there was room for improvement, especially in regards to horsepower. He approached the crew at Loud Pedal Motorsports, in Chandler, Arizona, and laid out a plan to kick up the power. But before anything could be done, the stock engine had an “incident.”

The Phoenix area doesn’t get a lot of rain each year, but when it does, it pours, and the streets turn into rivers. While driving through an exceptionally deep puddle, some water got Hoovered up into the engine. In short order, internal components became external, and the LS1 was history.

This little incident allowed the Loud Pedal crew to start with a clean slate. Into the engine compartment went a 402 cubic-inch Katech block. Knowing that it was going to live a life of forced induction, Johnson issued instructions: “Build something that won’t blow up.” To that end, a slew of forged components were installed, including JE pistons, Callies connecting rods and a Callies crankshaft. Lingenfelter heads brought the compression ratio down to a reasonable 9.5:1.

As for the supercharger, Johnson had a belt-driven Procharger D1SC unit installed. At full chat, the blower pumps out 14 pounds of boost. And as if that wasn’t enough, Loud Pedal also installed a nitrous system, complete with 100-shot injectors. Of course, the fueling system was beefed up—with the kind of power this engine was expected to deliver, fuel starvation wasn’t an acceptable option. Twin Walbro 255LPH gerotor pumps push the 91 test through a pair of race-spec feed lines to a set of Aeromotive fuel rails, which lead to 60-lb injectors. A heavy foot needs heavy fuel.

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