In his 1970 book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler argued that rapid, technologically driven changes caused psychological problems. Today, one glance at a typical Twitter feed furnishes evidence of his prescience.
But while smart phones and Web-based media effected rapid, disruptive change in the way we conduct our daily lives, a more subtle form of advancement commonly known as “technology creep” has been at least equally influential. The term refers to the way one thing leads to another through small degrees of alteration. You used to run out on Friday night to rent movies on video cassettes and then DVDs, before having them delivered by mail. Now, you call them up on your television. It’s a fundamental transformation based on evolution, not revolution.
The Corvette itself has been a notable beneficiary of this phenomenon. Twenty years ago, the LS1-powered C5 ushered in a new era of performance, leading to the 385- and 405-horsepower Z06 models. From there, the LS2-powered C6 offered comparable performance to the specialized C5 Z06, and later the LS3 C6 offered even more, with 430 horses. The 505-hp C6 Z06 and 638-hp C6 ZR1 pushed the bar even higher, and now we’re basking in the Michelin PS2–induced haze of the 650-hp C7 Z06. A year or two, or 20, make all the difference.
Where do you go from there? That’s the question Jason Harding and his cohorts at Katech spend their days answering. Building on 40 years of experience, they poke, prod and cajole the performance envelope to build on the latest factory technologies. “It’s a bigger challenge every year, because the level of capability straight off the showroom floor just keeps getting higher,” says Harding. “A decade ago, a 500- or 600-horsepower engine in a street car was a big deal. Now, it’s not even the price of entry. You’ve got to exceed the factory, and increasingly our customers are looking for a dual-purpose car—one that’s track-capable with excellent street manners.”
That’s where Harding’s C7 Z06 comes in. Serving as a rolling test bed for the company’s latest performance parts, it is intended balance street and track capability on the sharpest of edges. “We’re much more confident building and recommending performance packages when we’re experiencing them ourselves,” says Harding. “We find what works and what doesn’t before offering it to our customers.”
With the Z06, Harding says it’s pretty easy to zip up to 750 hp. Well, at least it is for Katech. Accommodating the direct-injection fuel system of the supercharged LT4 engine, while working within the confines of the C7’s advanced E92 powertrain controller, requires specialized knowledge and an application-specific approach.
Building on its extensive tuning experience, Katech was able to extract an additional 210 horses and 227 lb-ft of torque from the LT4 in Harding’s car, bringing it to a stunning 860 hp and 877 lb-ft—delivered with exceptional drivability. We’ll vouch for that personally, per our experience during our time with the car during this photo shoot.