2008 LS3 Corvette, an Introduction

As a life long Mustang enthusiast, I’ve gotten used to the positives and negatives of the Fox Body, SN95, New Edge, and now S197 platform. Good power, great platform, superior drag racer, handsome looks, and decent manners all defined the Mustang for me. At the same time, while I acknowledged the Corvette as the ultimate affordable super car, I wasn’t in a position to either afford it or to see myself driving it.

As I’ve gotten older (now 31 going on 32), and as my different businesses have expanded into the GM LSX market – first with Fastest Street Car Magazine, and now specifically LSX Magazine, I had thought about getting a Corvette for a few years. It was Dr. Jamie Meyer, Product Integration Manager for GM Performance Parts, who finally pushed me over the edge. Jamie wanted us to get a C6 ’08 LS3 Corvette and to make it a LSX Magazine project vehicle. He was able to get us some serious help (read: discounts) to make purchasing the vehicle a no-brainer.

So we did.

This is the beginning of LSX Magazine’s 2008 C6 Project.

Although I can’t call myself a Corvette expert yet, I’ve become obsessed with learning everything I can about Corvette’s history. Think of this project as a C6 build written by a guy experienced in Mustangs. That being said, I think I can bring a unique perspective to the vehicle for first time prospective Corvette buyers.

We purchased the vehicle from Rydell Chevrolet in Van Nuys, California. It was ordered, a base 2008 with a 3LT package, silver with two-tone leather interior, and a 6-speed manual (naturally). We picked up the vehicle December 12, 2007. We ordered a base Vette (non Z51) because we have plans to upgrade the brakes and suspension anyways, and also because our interest in street performance and drag racing performance. The base suspension seemed so good there was no reason to upgrade to the Z51.


When I picked the car up, at first, I was floored at how ergonomic the driving position was. I was terrified because I’d hear Corvette’s were hard to live with, low, and the seating position was “too race car” like to make driving every day practical.

That may have been true of the C4, or partially with the C5, but with the 2008 version of the Corvette, this C6 is stunningly easy to drive, live with, and enjoy. Driving position is excellent, the new-for-08 steering system is precise and confident, and the power is a tremendous.

Edmunds called the 2008 Corvette, “the best sports car deal on the planet.”. We agree. But they dinged the interior for lacking pizzazz. We disagree. We think the interior is high class and feels expensive for a vehicle of this price range. Let’s remember, this is a sports car which is pretty much available anywhere for under $50k. This isn’t a $80,000 Porsche, or a water-down piece of crap like the Boxster.

Driving Impressions – or, Where do I start with the horsepower?

This car is a rocket ship for a stock vehicle. It makes big power, torque, and it makes power all across the RPM band. And the clutch is so light and the shifter so good, and the chassis so balanced, you can use almost all of the power that is underfoot.

One of things that many people don’t realize is that the 2008 Corvette got a huge transmission upgrade – to the Tremec T6060. This is the same transmission that OEM in the Shelby GT500 and Viper. It can take massive horsepower, but also Tremec has made significant improvements in the transmission for faster and more confident shifts and shifter feel. Trust me – with the driving position of the Vette, you won’t be missing any gears.

According to Wikipedia:

The Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual transmission features six forward speeds and one reverse speed. It is derived from the Tremec T-56 6-speed manual transmission. The forward helical cut gears are synchronized while the reverse gear operates through a fully-synchronized constant-mesh system. The TR-6060 sports removable wear pads on the shift forks, and uses aluminum alloys for the main case, extension housing, and clutch housing. It is manufactured by Transmission Technologies Corporation and is rated for 600 ft·lbf (810 N·m) of torque.

This C6 – and our Plan

I’m not going to go over the history of the Corvette, it’s been done before and much better than I ever could. This is a base Vette, not a convertible, no Z51, and not a Z06. A good starter 3LT model. It has a 6.2-liter LS3 which makes 430+ hp, and eats LS2’s for lunch. That isn’t going to be nearly enough for us. The 6.2 liter is a displacement upgrade from the 6.0L LS2 in the ’07 and earlier year Vette’s. As such, it also comes with 424 lb-pounds of torque.

The purpose of this project on LSX Magazine is going to be improving all around performance in four key areas that most every Corvette enthusiast can relate to, in this order of priority.

  • Horsepower & Acceleration
  • Handling in Dry Conditions
  • Braking
  • Street Manners & Accessorizing

I think every good project starts with goals, and not just general improvements. That is, unless you are just shooting for moderate improvements and you don’t really plan to drag test, autocross, or use any performance braking.

What are our goals going to be?

  • 11-second quarter mile times at 120 plus mph
  • Exceed Z06 handling in Dry Conditions
  • Exceed Z06 braking
  • Maintain top tier street manners and add premium accessories

How are we going to get there?

As owners of 2008 LS3 Corvette owners can attest, for as many enthusiasts that own these vehicles, there really isn’t a proven blueprint yet for the LS3 engine and for these improved 2008 C6s. As such, different forums that I frequent such as Digital Corvettes and Corvette Forums are short on information in some cases for ’08 stuff that doesn’t relate to previous year C6’s.

That is why we are particularly excited about this LSX Magazine project, that we can learn along with our viewers and hopefully help be the guinea pig for Vette owners on the web who want to the upgrade their newest C6’s but want to see the performance proven before investing in the upgrades.

And, at every stage, plan to see us test on our Dynojet and track test this C6 so you won’t be getting only “seat of the pants” opinions.

Here is our outline of upgrades that we’ve already decided on.

This will not be done in his order, and they will not be done all at once. Think stages.

  1. Baer 6S Brake System Upgrade front and rear
  2. Corsa Z06 3-inch Cat-Back Exhaust
  3. Kooks 1-7/8 Stainless Steel Headers
  4. Kooks 3-inch X-Pipe with Cats
  5. ECU Programming & Dyno Testing
  6. GM LS3 CNC Ported Cylinder Heads
  7. Vararam LS3/’08 Intake Upgrade
  8. Various Interior Upgrades
  9. Forgeline Wheels
  10. Toyo 888 Road Race Tires (18/19 Stagger)

We’re going to leave you with our baseline dyno test video, and a little preview of the Corsa/Kooks exhaust sound we’ve already gotten! That’s coming next month.

Also, drag strip testing is coming up on March 18th, so stay tuned for that news!

Check out below our first photo shoot on the Corvette:

About the author

James Lawrence

James started working on a Nostalgia Top Fuel drag racing team in 1992, and the rest has been history. A life-long automotive enthusiast, James is in fierce competition to see whether he can collect more cars or cats. Right now, the cars are winning. James co-founded the NMRA and NMCA Drag Racing Series in 1998 and continues to be an avid and passionate fan on everything 1320. He also thinks he can drive. Thinks, is the key word.
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