Lone Star Power

Though it gained its renown as a Viper tuner, Hennessey Performance has become increasingly associated with high-output Corvettes. We sample its first supercharged 2014 Stingray.

May 1, 2014

Also from Issue 90

  • 1967 Small-Block Convertible
  • Buyer’s Guide: Late-Model Z-Cars
  • 1994 Coupe
  • History: ’53 Styling
  • 2004 Coupe
  • Tech: C7 Brakes
  • Racing: Sebring
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Some people just want more. More power. More speed. More excitement. While the 2014 Corvette Stingray certainly delivers on all these counts compared to its C6 predecessor, some people just want, well, more. That’s where tuners like Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) come in, and after driving an HPE700 Stingray convertible, we can assure you that it is no status-quo C7.

As one could well imagine, modifying the 2014 Stingray is no small undertaking. From stem to stern, this is a brand-new Corvette, and a significantly more complex one at that. Not only is the LT1 engine bristling with new technologies, such as direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation, it is more thoroughly integrated with the rest of the vehicle’s electronics than ever before. In addition to the traction- and stability-control systems, the LT1 is, for example, wired to the electronic limited-slip differential on Z51 Performance Package-equipped cars.

Given this heightened sophistication, it’s understandable that Hennessey did not rush headlong into modifying the Stingray, preferring to take a steady, even-handed approach. Beginning in the fall of 2013, it began by working up the naturally aspirated ladder to increased performance. The first rung was its HPE500 engine-upgrade kit. By installing stainless-steel headers, stainless-steel mid-pipes and high-flow catalytic converters, then recalibrating the engine-management system, HPE was able to increase the LT1’s output from 460 to 507 horsepower. Hennessey then upped the ante by adding high-flow cylinder heads and a more aggressive camshaft to the mix, resulting the 603-hp HPE600 package. In both cases, Hennessey engineers found no way to improve upon the stock intake system and left well enough alone.

You may have caught a YouTube clip of former GM engineer John Heinricy testing a Z51 coupe with the HPE600 package at Hennessey’s Sealy, Texas proving grounds; it made the rounds this past December. Heinricy came away impressed with the work done to the C7’s 6.2-liter V8. “It really made the engine come alive,” he enthuses in the video. “One of the things that’s cool is how strong it pulls all the way to redline.”

Since it built its reputation on more significant power gains, Hennessey logically turned to forced induction as the next step in its Stingray modification campaign. Its first move in this direction was to create a twin-turbo coupe. With its rear-mounted compressors requiring extensive fabrication work, the 700-hp HPE700 Twin Turbo package will cost a heady $39,500 when it’s ready for public consumption, greatly limiting its number of potential customers. Hennessey expects far more takers for the considerably less expensive supercharged kits it has developed.

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