Excessive Horsepower Disorder is a terrible thing. A sufferer can own a 505hp Corvette Z06 and still feel a nagging urge for more. Luckily, there are plenty of tuners ready to relieve 'Vette owners of their money– I mean symptoms. Despite their noble intentions, few garages can be trusted to monkey around with the complex workings of the Z06's heavily-breathed-upon small-block V8. Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE) is one. For over two decades, the Indiana-based Corvette concern has been transforming America's Sports Car into American psychos. Their new engine package is gloriously, predictably, wonderfully nuts.
Our Z06 LPE test car was prepared by Twenty First Century Muscle Cars of Dallas, Texas. It's a monotone monster: black paint, black wheels, presidential window-tint and blacked-out hoops. In case you missed the point (Lord Vader), the new tires add an extra 20mm of rubber up front and back, intensifying the Z06' already aggressive stance. And that's it– aside from fender-mounted Lingenfelter badges. Even pistonheads unfamiliar with the Lingenfelter name instinctively appreciate the transformation: from middle-aged crisis-mobile to the automotive equivalent of a Halliburton Zero packed with unmarked bills.
The tester's thrones are the only interior indication that the LPE isn't stock. Their blend of rocket ship sheik, race car purpose and aromatic sybaritism are a welcome change from the Z06s' cheap chairs. The OEM-style embroidery and five-point racing harnesses almost make the 'Vette's pedestrian interior as wicked bad as the exterior. But not quite. The LPE's chairs straddle an unconvincing hunk of fake aluminum on the console; the purity of form is far from the magic number of Porsche's 911. Anyway, obviously, touchy-feely tomfoolery is not LPE's main concern…
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 emerges from GM's Bowling Green factory an extremely competent package; in the same sense that an F22 Raptor ain't half bad when Lockheed Martin finishes their end of the deal. In both cases, there are few obvious areas for measurable improvement. For the Z06, Lingenfelter's crew whipped-up a short-and-sweet to-do list. The LPE conversion kit consists of a hotter camshaft and lightweight headers, for massive muscle-car hustle and flow.
The details devil lies in the tuning. Unlike less scrupulous tuners, Lingenfelter's reps don't simply bolt-on some Holy shit bits, hide behind forgiving knock sensors and tell their customers that reduced drivability is the normal price of extra pushrod power. Like Watson and Crick unlocking the secrets of DNA, Lingenfelter's well-funded research and development department has cracked the code of Chevy's 7.0-liter LS7. The Twenty First Century Muscle Cars' install reflects, nurtures and preserves the parts makers' fanaticism; dyno-testing the LPE to high-performance perfection. The result: stunning clout, respectable fuel economy, a two-year/24k mile warranty and clean air for everyone. Safe!
Lingenfelter's mechanical magic massages 111 extra horses from the Z06's already bonkers engine. (Trash-talkin' forum junkies may point to Hondas that produce that much grunt, but this 616hp whip's powerband is fat enough to qualify for gastric bypass surgery.) Aside from the cam's medium-hot 'thump-ah-thump' idle, the LPE Z06 cruises without complaint, just like its "mild-mannered" OEM donor car. The modest clutch effort and deliciously precise shifter bestowed by Dave Hill and crew make the Z06 LPE a grandma-friendly stunter and flosser– until you drop the hammer.
Bad day at work? Light-up the Z06 LPE from a standstill and the ensuing black hole consumes your job, your family, your name. By 5000 revs, Lingenfelter's black beauty dusts everything this side of a Ferrari Enzo. By 7000 rpm, the vicious pull starts to suck-up daylight and blur your peripheral vision. Empirically speaking, the Z06 LPE eliminates the quarter mile in 10.6 seconds, ending at a glorious 134mph. What's more, downshifting before a corner is an entirely pointless exercise; the LPE's powerband is larger than the national debt and more usable than throw-beads at Mardi Gras.
A stock Z06 vacuums its way around even the most severe corner, but oh no, that's not good enough for LPE. On go up-rated Brembo brake calipers, ultra-light CCW rims and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup rubber. The stoppers wipe away triple digit speeds like Oxi-clean disappearing grass stains. The amount of twist available mid-corner is so enormous that foot flexing through the twisties left me questioning LPE's omission of a Diaper Genie from the options list. The test course runs near a small Dallas airport; I'll bet the Cessnas remember who was REALLY flying that afternoon.
The automotive performance world endured a terrible loss when tuner/racer/author John Lingenfelter died from injuries sustained in a racing accident. Sadly, Lingenfelter didn't live to see the current Z06, a vehicle that flummoxes Ferraris and sends Porsches packing. But John's spirit lives on in the LPE-tuned Z06 bearing his name. Sure, a stock Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a terrible thing to waste. But someone's got to do it.