Brian Bone is no stranger to modern GM performance vehicles. Prior to picking up this awesome red 2006 Z06 Corvette, he was pushing a nicely modified 2006 Pontiac GTO. “I loved my Pontiac. I had put a lot of work into that car. It sported an LS3 top-end swap, Comp LSR camshaft, and all the bolt-ons. It put down 455 hp and would run low 12s at 118 mph in the quarter mile on street tires.” That was plenty of go to get Brian to the gym and back.
“I brought my 2006 Pontiac GTO to the Lonestar Motorsports Park in Sealy, Texas on a hot and sunny April day in 2012. I had been running my usual 12 second passes which I was happy about, but then a black Z06 lined up next to me. It didn’t sound as aggressive as my car, but it smoked me! It was running low 11s at nearly 130mph. I knew at this point I didn’t need more power for my GTO, I needed a Vette to take it to the next level,” said Bone.
While the GTO was a very nice and comfortable performance vehicle, it would never really qualify as an elite sports car, something Brian craved. Already familiar with the potential of LS power, he knew he would be stepping into another class of sports car when taking the wheel of a Corvette, for which the Z06 was his target. With more cubic inches, race-car handling, and a lot less heavy metal to sling around, his next ride was pretty much a no brainer.
The search for Bone’s next toy began almost immediately after his run-in with the Vette so he de-modified and sold the GTO in a matter of a few weeks. Finally in July of 2012, Brian found his red 2006 Z06 Corvette in San Diego, CA. “I chose this particular one because the owner had recently installed a fresh 454 cubic inch engine as well as some other performance parts. The car had low miles and the build was brand new – It seemed like a good deal for the price.”
With only 36,000 miles on the clock and 5,000 on the new motor, this car was a turn-key performance machine sure to support Bone’s adrenaline habit for years to come. Bone commented,“When I found this car, it seemed perfect. The Corvette was already fully built using top notch parts and therefore would save me some skin on my knuckles, I just couldn’t pass up the good deal!”
This Corvette came sporting a fresh 454 cubic inch rotating assembly stuffed into an LS2 block with Darton cylinder sleeves. The crankshaft is a Callies Dragonslayer unit with a 4.125-inch stroke. Callies Ultra H-Beam rods connect the crank to custom Wiseco dished pistons with a diameter of 4.185-inches.
Sitting on top of these massive slugs are a set of cnc ported factory LS7 heads, resulting in a combination of parts that yields a compression ratio of 11.5:1. Feeding air to Godzilla was left to a heavily ported factory LS7 intake manifold and throttle body combination. Valve events are orchestrated by a massive Jones Cam Designs bumpstick measuring in at 253/259 degrees of duration at .050-inches, .648-inches of gross valve lift for both the intake and exhaust, and a 114-degree lobe separation angle. Stock LS7 lifters motivate the Smith Brother’s 7.6-inch pushrods that feature a 3/8-inch diameter and .120-inch wall thickness.
Fuel is supplied via FAST 65lb/hr fuel injectors and engine harmonics are kept in check with an ATI Super Damper with a 10% under-drive. Exhaust gases are sent on their merry way through a set of ceramic coated American Racing headers with two-inch primary tubes, followed by an X-pipe, and a B&B PRT cat-back exhaust.
Getting the power from the engine bay to the ground is facilitated by an RPS twin disk carbon clutch and the aggressive stance and handling are a result of the Pfadt coilovers and front swaybar. The polished stock C6 Z wheels were retained and are strapped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires with 285s up front and a pair of hearty 345s out back. “The car sounded amazing and was perfectly clean,” said Bone. With a freshly-built motor, low miles, and a long list of tasteful mods, we can understand the reasoning behind this purchase.
Finally owning a Z06 was an awesome feeling for Bone since the car was fast, handled beautifully, and was a blast to drive. Given the size of the investment and radical nature of the build, Bone wanted to make sure the tune was perfect as well as get some baseline dyno figures of his own so he would have a starting point for potential future modifications. “I took the car to Bryan Chappelear of PowerFab Automotive in Houston and had it strapped to the dyno. Right away I noticed it was burning oil during the passes. Not just a little oil, but big clouds would come out of the tailpipes when the throttle was lifted. The way it was smoking suggested the oil was coming from the cylinder heads, more specifically the valve guides. Being a mechanical engineer, this absolutely had to be resolved,” expressed Bone.
Aside from the smoking habit, the car seemed to be suffering from a bit of performance anxiety according to the dyno figures. To this, Bone said, “The car was plenty fast, but the dyno numbers were a little disappointing. The car made 565 hp which was about 50 less than what I was expecting to see.” Suspecting problems with the top end of the motor in his new Corvette and curious about the missing horses, Bone authorized a top-end teardown. As he suspected, the valve guides all showed extreme wear and needed replacing.
With the car already apart to fix the oil burning issue, Brian decided it was time to put his signature on this ride. He opted to have the heads reworked by Darin Morgan of Reher Morrison Racing Engines as well as upgrade a few other components. Morgan and Bone agreed to have the additional port work kept conservative and emphasize small changes in shape to help maintain port velocity. The heads already had been through the cnc porting process, so this round of sculpting was done by hand. The result was a nice gain in flow over the whole spectrum of valve activity, with the heads now pulling over 390 cfm. In addition to the head work, Bone ordered a FAST 102 mm intake manifold, a 102 mm Nick Williams throttle body, as well as a new Halltech MF107R air inlet.
After installing the reworked heads, Bone turned his attention to the new intake manifold. “I wanted to make sure the runners on the manifold were perfectly matched to the cylinder heads,” said Bone. A cool feature on the FAST 102 mm manifold is that it can be disassembled by removing the top cover thus making match porting a breeze.
The intake manifold was taken apart, each runner was removed, and the base of the manifold was bolted to the motor so Bone could go to work. “I used a dremel tool to match each port on the base to the respective intake port. After the base was ported to match, I unbolted it and installed each individual runner one at a time so that I could match port the runners where they attach to the base,” bone added. After getting things back together, it was time to retune.
The combination of Darin Morgan’s touch up head work, the upgraded intake tract, and Bryan Chappelear’s tuning took the output from 565 rwhp and 515 lb-ft of torque to a monstrous 618 rwhp and 569 lb-ft of torque. “So far I’ve been able to run a 10.7 at 132 mph on street tires. It’s a beast to drive and it’s nearly impossible to get any traction,” said bone. It took a little elbow grease to get this car performing at the expectation level a mechanical engineer would have, but at least he got a major head start on the work. “I know the car can crank out some very low 10 second passes. I have only taken it to the track one time, so give me a break here,” Bone added.
We can all appreciate a great set of numbers to satisfy our performance curiosities, but what is it like to drive? Bone explained, “The car feels very crisp and nimble. It responds to every type of input in a way that makes the commanded action seem effortless to the engine and suspension. It has a light and very precise feel to the steering, and the ride is very aggressive while still being tolerable.”
It is certainly a purpose built machine. With the extra power and upgraded cornering capabilities, Bone notes, “You could daily drive the car if you don’t mind feeling every bump on the path, but the suspension is track-tuned. The car gets no traction under full throttle unless it’s in 3rd gear, so this makes my street tires purely for cruising and for handling. I have a set of 315/35R17 Mickey Thompson ET Street drag radials mounted to a second set of rear wheels and these tires aid tremendously with traction. Even without a burnout they can hook from a roll in 2nd gear, something impossible on street tires.”
What is the best part of owning this awesome Corvette? “There is nothing better than that classic V8 feeling. The power, the beautiful harmonic rumble of the cylinders firing, the awesome thrust when you row through the gears, this car is just amazing to drive and does it all. It handles, it stops, and it blows the rear tires off with anything more than a gram of weight on the accelerator – I’m in love! The car just sounds too nasty for anyone to want to play with me!” said Bone.
We have established that Bone can’t help but modify his automobiles. What’s next on the mod list? Bone happily expressed, “I have more plans for this car. I’m very interested in pushing this 454 to its full potential, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do that with a hydraulic roller cam, factory heads, or a plastic intake manifold. I also plan on playing with the braking system to see if I can’t make a few improvements in that arena. What can I say? I’ve been infected by the speed bug!”
There is something therapeutic about driving a car equipped with a well-tuned pushrod V8 motor that you can only understand if you have experienced it for yourself. When Bone pulls up to the light, his car might look like any other showroom clean C6 Z06, but even the most untrained ear should be able to detect something funny is happening under the hood. This is certainly a formidable piece of Americana that will leave anything other than the most purpose built machines looking like a speck of dust stuck on the rearview mirror. We can’t wait to see what Bone has planned next for this car.
Car: 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Owner: Brian Bone
Block: GM LS2 w/ Darton Sleeves, 454 Cubic Inches
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Heads: LS7; ported by Darin Morgan
Cam: Jones Cam Design; hydraulic, 253*/259* duration at .050”, .648/.648-inch lift 114* LSA (114 + 4)
Rocker Arms: GM LS7, 1.8
Rings: Total Seal Gapless
Crankshaft: Callies Dragonslayer 4.125”
Rods: Callies Ultra H-Beam
Intake Manifold: FAST 102 (Match Ported)
Throttle Body: Nick Williams 102mm
Fuel Injectors: FAST 65lb/hr
Fuel Pump: Stock
Ignition: Stock Coils with Moroso Ultra40 wires and NGK TR6 plugs
Engine Management: Stock
Exhaust System: American Racing Long-Tubes w/2” primaries, X-Pipe, B&B PRT Mufflers w/3” piping.
Transmission: Stock T-56 with MGW short throw shifter w/ race nob.
Clutch: RPS Full Carbon Street Twin-Disk
Front Suspension: Pfadt Coil Overs and Pfadt adjustable swap bar.
Rear Suspension: Pfadt Coil Overs
Rear End: Stock
Brakes: Stock rotors with Hawk HPS pads and Russell Stainless brake lines.
Wheels: Polished Stock Wheels
Tires: Michellin Pilot Sport Cups. Front: 285/30R18 Rear: 345/30R19
HP/TQ: 618 rwhp / 569 lb-ft of torque