Corvette C7 Stingray Unveiled January 13, 2013

Yesterday Chevrolet revealed the all new 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray. I think the car looks better than the leaked drawings, but there’s still something I don’t like about the back. The front and profile look really good to me and the interior seems like an upgrade too. My son said it looked like a Ferrari California mixed with a Camaro, but he liked it. My wife said she thought it looked beautiful but she missed the circular tail lights (I agree). Perhaps the design will grow on me a bit more with time. I’m the first to admit I’m not big on change (in general) and I see this redesign as a move away from American Muscle more toward Italian Style. I will be curious to see the car in person and read/watch performance reviews. And, for the record, I’m going to miss the LS series engines.

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It’s interesting to me – from looking over various forums and video comments – how polarizing this design seems to be. Many people seem to like it and others seem to hate it (I lean more toward liking it, if I have to pick a side). I can’t personally recall the reactions when the C6 was unveiled, but people have indicated it was much the same. In a way I understand what GM is doing- they want to cater to the groups that love Ferraris, Lamborghinis and reel in a younger generation of car buyer. It’s probably time to shake the “old man” image. And no, I am not an old man ūüėČ

The Horsepower: There and Back Again

The Quest for 1000rwhp continues. Each day brings our tireless hero one step closer to his goal…

I finally got my car back from Premier. Most of the issues have been resolved: Melting wires are repaired and relocated (with fire sleeves added), new knock sensors, new MSD spark plug wires and spark plugs. The turbo inlet hose issue was fixed. Premier also put in my new fuel injectors- Injector Dynamics ID1000s. But most importantly the dyno and street tuning is finally finished. Here’s where we’re at:

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Not too shabby. 696rwhp and 627 ft/lbs or torque is about what I expected. For the most part the dyno graph looks great and the A/F ratios are where I want them.

If you compare it to the original dyno I did at Premier (below, both runs overlayed) I lost some power on the low end. It could be the lower compression of the new engine (9.8:1 vs. 11:1 on the LS7). It might also be that the test was started later, A/F ratio differences (I don’t know what the A/F ratio was on the first run), or something else. I’m a little surprised to lose that much torque, but it’s not too big a deal. In fact, it may actually beneficial when facing traction issues.

The top end power with the new mods and tune is more substantial. I gained about 50 rwhp and 50 ft/lb torque. The last dyno was 8 pounds of boost (maybe) and this is just 6 pounds so overall I’m pleased with the results.

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I’ve only had the chance to drive the car twice, but both times it was awesome. It pulls hard and it’s super smooth (no surging or hiccups). I really like the idle too- not too rough and plenty loud. I wish I could do some more testing with the car, but I’ll have to wait for nicer weather. Initial impressions: Excellent.

Some people might say it’s taken eight months to get back where I started. What do I mean? Well, take a look at this graph from my old setup done at another shop:

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It appears that back then I had 693 rwhp and even more torque than I have now. The car ran well and it was a blast to drive. In essence, everything I have now I had then. So why did I do all this? Let me tell you.

1) I don’t trust this 693 rwhp dyno graph. Track times were way to slow for that kind of power and that same tune gave me 648 rwhp at Premier. I don’t think my car has ever really had as much power as it has now. 2) Before these new mods my car was a time bomb; You can’t run boost a stock LS7 forever. There was nowhere to go because everything on the car – engine, trans, clutch, diff, – was maxed out in terms of it’s ability to handle power. 3) The new setup makes more power on 6 pounds of boost than the old car made on 8 pounds. And now everything is now built to handle the power so there’s nowhere to go but up. 4) My end goal is to have a 1000rwhp car (I might settle for crank horsepower) and this is how I’m going to get there.

So that’s the progress for now. In a few months I’ll head back to Premier, we’ll crank up the boost and see what happens.

Last Stand Corvette ZR-1

“What kind of car is this?”
“A ZR1. Faster than any chopper.”

Once upon a time I had this idea I would spotlight Corvettes that pop up in movies and TV, but I didn’t have the time. However, you put Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Corvette in a movie together and that’s post worthy.

The trailers seem to put a lot of emphasis on the car- maybe to drum up interest for the upcoming release of the C7.¬†I guess if I was making a run for the border a ZR1 wouldn’t be a bad choice.

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I don’t think this one’s going to win any Oscars, but I bet it will be fun to watch. Here’s the movie trailer:

Double Take Vehicles. January 2013 Edition.

Since I don’t have my car around to keep me busy, I have been scouring the web for other cars (we/ve covered this- it’s something that I do).

The most interesting thing I’ve come across in the last few months has been these “leaked” drawing of the Corvette C7. There’s a lot of speculation regarding how the C7 is actually going to look and these – which seem legitimate – provide a pretty good glimpse into many aspects of the car’s appearance.

Initially the rear end doesn’t do it for me. I miss the iconic circular tail lights and I don’t really care for the smaller rear windshield and addition of smaller side windows. I’ll try reserve final judgement on the back until I see some better pictures of the car (or better yet, see the car in person). The engine bay looks good.

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The overall profile of the car seems fairly similar, if not a little more aggressive than the C6. I like the dash and control layouts, although I’m not a huge fan of the Camaro-esque AC controls. Just another week or so and we’ll get some official pictures.

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And I thought about it again. Last time it was a 1978 Corvette on eBay and this time it was a gorgeous 1979. I actually placed a bid this time, but the car went for more than I was willing to spend.

Here is a summary of the listing info: This monster Corvette features a 400 small block Clay Smith blue printed racing motor that is bored .20 over with estimated 500+ HP. Aluminum heads, Competition Cams camshaft, 4 speed Muncie manual transmission, 200 HP Nitrous Kit with bottle, side pipe exhaust, fully adjustable road course racing suspension and lots of chrome especially in the engine bay,custom steering wheel, rearview mirror, DVD/CD player, mirrored T-tops, digital dash and old style Cragar rims. Color is black that makes it shine and stand out, freshly painted.  Power windows have brand new motors, digital speedometer & tachometer. Fully rebuilt & tricked out

And another beauty from eBay. At nearly $200,000 this one had no chance of getting a bid from me, but it got plenty of my admiration.

Here are some of the car’s highlights:¬†Original 1969 Corvette Donor.¬†C5 Corvette front suspension, independent rear suspension, fully adjustable coil over shock and tube chassis.¬†Seats are premium black leather with suede inserts and have¬†5-point harness seat belts.¬†Custom 4′ side exhaust, fabricated ceramic headers, paddle shifters, carbon fiber dash & center console, full custom ‘Bomber’ gauge package, aircraft-style toggle & momentary switches, push button electric start. ¬†In car entertainment includes¬†AM/FM/CD/DVD head unit, navigation w/ In-dash monitor, high-quality sound speakers.¬†Street/track brake system w/ red powder coated calipers and custom wheels (18×9 front/ 18×12 rear).¬†Engine is¬†1200HP+!!! Runs on pump gas.¬†Custom built 565cid twin turbo dart motor, custom fabricated intake manifold, fuel injected, high-capacity aluminum radiator.

And then something totally off the wall. This is the 813 Customs built King ZL1. This is not my cup of tea, but you have to give the people who did this props for their commitment.

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I’m not sure if the car was painted or if this is a gold vinyl wrap, but it would be hard to miss either way. You can see a¬†Whipple supercharger (this custom was actually built out of an SS),¬†30-inch¬†Forgiato¬†Maschili and more speaker and monitors than I have in my entire hours and vehicles combined. Definitely one of a kind!

Singing a New Tune

I miss my car. I won’t pretend that I don’t. When I started the 1000rwhp project seven months ago I had no idea that it was going to take this long to get things done. Here we are in 2013 and I have no car. Yes, I had the car for a few weeks while I put on the break-in miles, but the driving experience was sub-par because of the very rough tune. And now the car is gone again.

It’s been up at Premier Performance for nearly a month for¬†a “real” tune.¬†With any luck I will get it back this coming week (Hmmm, shouldn’t have said that- not a lot of luck going around at the moment). But this is only a six pound tune; the higher psi tune will have to wait until spring when the weather gets nicer.

So what’s taking so long at Premier? From what I can tell they take on a lot of projects and bump the harder stuff to the back of the line.The tuning turned out to be more difficult than they thought. And when the tuning was finally done they found a turbo inlet hose with a hole (it was installed crooked and was rubbing against the undercarriage) which is what they are¬†working on now.

Would I do it again? Oh yeah. But I’d really like to experience some some ROI at this point. Up to now I am nowhere close to achieving the kind of pleasure the car used to bring me (you know, when I could drive it). Still, there are a lot of bright rays on this journey. But I will save those for the next post. Which I hope will be this week… when I get the car back.

B&B Fusion Exhaust & Mild 2 Wild

For the last five years I have had an APS exhaust. I’m pretty sure that APS stands for Auditory Pain System. Satan himself crawled out of hell to design this thing. The drone was always bad but after swapping the engine it was just too much. It had to go. And I won’t miss it.

The C6 Z06 Corvettes come with a bi-mode exhaust. Under normal driving conditions the exhaust flows through a muffler. Once the car reached 3500 rpms (and the accelerator is pressed down at least 25%) a valve opens to allow the exhaust to escape though less muffled pipes. It’s an interesting idea and something that I never really got to experience. It sounded like a chance to have my cake and eat it too. After a bit of research I picked the Billy Boat Fusion exhaust with ¬†3″ piping.

The B&B Fusion exhaust is excellent. In quiet mode there’s no drone at any speed (well, nothing that I would consider drone). With the valves open it’s a got a nice rumble and sounds like a muscle car (nothing obnoxious but there is good amount of freeway drone). I am super happy with this upgrade. It makes a huge difference in the level of driving enjoyment. And I can actually hear my stereo now (no, that’s not a joke).

I popped in a Mild 2 Wild exhaust controller so I could fully enjoy the novelty of a bi-mode exhaust. The best part is that I can open and close the exhaust’s valves with my integrated garage door opener. Quiet or loud with the touch of a button.

For anyone curious: The Mild 2 Wild works by replacing the exhaust fuse located under the passenger kick panel. This gives the user the power to cut or allow power through that circuit.  The fuse powers a solenoid which controls a vacuum line that opens and closes the valves inside of the Fusion (or the stock bi-mode exhaust on applicable Corvettes).

I recently discovered that there’s an “extreme” version of this exhaust that’s available for special order. It was made specifically for high horsepower Corvettes. Interesting. ¬†For the time being I’m happy, but I may consider that at some point in the future.

ZR1 Spoiler Install

After more than five months I decided it was finally time to put on my ZR1 Spoiler.

I bought the spoiler on eBay back in June. I had the OEM part on my watchlist and one day it went on sale so I snagged it. When the item was relisted it was about a hundred bucks more. I love a good deal. But all good deals have a secret cost. I had to wait for over a month to get the spoiler and it when it finally arrived the paint wasn’t as nice as I’d hoped. But my car’s not perfect, so I decided I could live with it. See? I’m not the snob you thought I was.

At first I had no idea how to go about putting the spoiler on the car. Luckily YouTube provided me with an excellent tutorial (which I have shared below). Here’s how you do it: Pop out the tail lights (Torx, don’t remember the size though). Reach in and unscrew the four bolts from the stock spoiler. Don’t drop anything in there- you’ll have a heck of a time getting it out. Put paint on the six outer ¬†ZR1 spoiler bolts and then press the spoiler into place.

The paint markings will show you where to drill. I did this several times and double checked the symmetry with a tape measure. Drilling into the body is not a good feeling, but take courage knowing that they will soon be covered up. Swap the third brake light into the new spoiler, fit the spoiler into place and then tighten the bolts (not too much). Put your rear lights back in and Voila!

I spent a good deal of time adjusting the brake light and getting the fit just right. I keep reading about “thirty minute” installs. Not me- I spent at least an hour on this. When I was done I polished the back of the car up a bit and I think the ZR1 spoiler, despite some small paint imperfections, looks awesome. I’d recommend this modification to anyone.

Here is the install video I watched:

Pioneer Avic Z1 Upgrade

My Pioneer Avic Z1 has been a great car stereo, with one tiny exception. Ever since the day I had my stereo installed I have a warning message pop up when the stereo turns on (“Warning! Improper parking brake connection detected”) and I am locked out of all the map and setting functionality on the unit if I’m moving.

To be fair, anyone with this unit is going to get locked out if the car is moving. It’s a “safety feature” of the unit. But it’s really stupid. If I can adjust all the controls on my music then why on earth shouldn’t I be allowed to adjust settings or enter destination addresses? Too dangerous? Okay, what if I have a passenger in the car with me? Why lock controls that a second person could use?

The solution to all my trouble? A bypass procedure and a software update. I’ve been planning to do this for three years or so and just never got around to it. A week or so ago I bought an upgraded hard drive on eBay. For only $80 I got ¬†2012 maps, updated Gracenotes and way more space for music.

Yesterday I had my center console pulled apart to add insulation around the shifter so I figured that was a good time to tackle the project. Putting in the new drive was a cinch (pop out the old one, transfer the mounting bracket and then slide the new one in). The software is now up to date (I was still running the original 2006 version). Then it was time to tackle the bypass.

Pulling the Avic out is not a fun procedure. There are so many wires, modules, harnesses and cables that it makes me cringe. But I went for it. While I was digging around I noticed this weird relay contraption. I’d seen it before, but this time I decided to give it a closer look since it was hooked up the parking brake ground on the Avic. I think it was put in by the guys at Sound Warehouse when I had the deck installed (it might have been a bad attempt at a bypass & was probably the cause of my error message). Out it went. Ounces shaved off the car’s weight. Win.

Performing the bypass operation was fairly easy. Cramming all the stuff back into the console was hard. Here is a great video that shows bypass instruction for the Avic Z series (if it doesn’t play click the “watch on YouTube” button on the bottom right corner):

Problem solved! I got the bypass done, no more warning, and now I have access to all my controls even if I’m in motion. Rest assured people- ¬†I’m not planning to use my new power to do anything reckless. ¬†I guess only one question remains: Am I a crazy stereo bypassing criminal or a equal rights stereo control liberator?