Natural Inspiration

A Katech employee leverages his company’s talents to build a 650-horsepower Z06—without using a blower.

December 17, 2010

Also from Issue 63

  • Z07 vs. ZR1
  • Best Corvettes for $12K
  • 1957 Roadster
  • 800-bhp C5 Convertible
  • Tech: LS Strengthening
  • 1967 Coupe
  • Driver Training
  • 1969 Coupe
  • Race Report: Petit Le Mans
  • How-To: Radiator Removal
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Working for Katech Performance and owning a C6 Z06 is pretty much like working at the Cool Whip factory and having a stack of pumpkin pies in your office. Such is the luck of the Michigan company’s main marketing man, Jason Harding. In 2007, he bought a Victory Red 2006 Z06, and over the years it has been treated to generous helpings of go-fast parts from the Katech catalog. The engine, the suspension, the appearance—just about every element of the Corvette has been upgraded, yet the car remains an all-around performer, as at home on the street as it is on the drag strip, where it is able to click off 11.3-second ETs.

Sure, Harding gets the employee discount on parts, but more importantly, he’s privy to Katech’s considerable motorsports experience—the company used to supply engines to Corvette Racing—so it’s kind of like working at Apple and being able to ask Steve Jobs if he knows of any good iPad apps. “No doubt about it, working [at Katech] has its advantages,” says Harding, grinning. “There are some very knowledgeable people here and I’m lucky to leverage it from time to time.” For example, he regularly eats lunch with Ron Helzer, the Katech engine technician who traveled with the Corvette Racing team, tending to its 600-horsepower LS7.R V8s.

However, Harding is quick to point out that his car is not the company’s official project vehicle. It’s his, and he’s invested plenty of his own time and money in it. At the same time, he’s used it to try out new Katech parts—to validate their fit, finish and performance, as well as to show them off to the public and gauge the response. This has been the case since the beginning: Three weeks after buying the Z06, Harding had it in the Katech shop for its first round of engine modifications. “We needed a car to display our products, and I was happy to provide it,” he says.

Helzer and his crew performed a variety of modifications to the Z06’s 7.0-liter LS7 V8, basically installing Katech’s Street Attack package. A set of Katech forged-aluminum pistons raised the compression ratio from 11.0:1 to 11.4:1. The stock forged-steel crankshaft and titanium connecting rods were retained, but they were re-bushed with Katech’s solid bronze bushings. Katech rod bolts were used, as well as the company’s Diamond Like Carbon-coated pins.

To take advantage of the stock LS7 head’s tremendous airflow, a Katech Torquer camshaft was installed. Its specs include 0.615/0.648-inch lift, 220/244-degree duration at 0.50-inch lift and a 110-degree lobe separation angle. “Sure, there are more powerful cams out there,” says Harding, “but I didn’t want to trade off the drivability.”

To improve breathing, the engine was fitted with a Halltech Super Bee CF112 carbon-fiber air intake (with a Halltech SuperBeehive shroud), along with a Halltech carbon-fiber NACA duct bezel and ported NACA duct. In terms of exhaust, a pair of Kooks 1 7/8-inch ceramic-coated headers was bolted on, as were a Kooks X-pipe and Corsa mufflers. A Koolmat tunnel shield was fitted to help keep drivetrain heat from radiating up through the floor. There’s also heat shielding on the underside of the hood.

The engine was then dressed for success. The intake manifold was painted Victory red to match the car’s exterior, while the Katech carbon-fiber valve covers (installed with the company’s coil-relocation kit) were left unpainted to match the Halltech intake components. The billet aluminum fuel rails were stripped, polished and re-anodized black.

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