Callaway Corvettes and the buying process...
From Callaway Cars:
From Callaway Cars:
How one man made his decision...by Rick Jones (not a Callaway employee; just a happy user.)
May 30, 2007
I have owned some 16 Corvettes over my lifetime. Some of the more memorable ones were a 1957 dual quad, HI-Lift cam (270 HP); a 1967 fastback powered by a 390HP big block; a 1978 coupe which, after three years of aggressive “track-day” weekends I had the 350CI replaced with a fresh 525HP LS6; and a 1981 coupe which I had turbocharged. The turbocharged car ran 175mph and never gave me any trouble. However, it took some time to get the spoiler and suspension just right to create the proper amount of down force and thus mitigate lift at those speeds with this particular body style. It was also the car I owned when I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles to “live the good life” with cars and motorcycles year-round.
All of my Corvettes have been street/track driven. Although I tended to hit an occasional drag strip event, I have spent most of my time on road courses in club or track-day events, most often running with Corvettes, Porsche’s and Vipers. I have run at Willow Springs in California, but I have spent most of my track time at Spring Mountain in Pahrump, Nevada. A great facility with a versatile track. I love the 3.0 mile configuration. Over the years I have learned a lot about speed, safety, and planning ahead for (read prioritizing) modifications. I have found there to be a tremendous correlation between a prioritized application of modifications, reliability, and fun.
Fast forward (excuse the pun) to 2007. I own a black 2002 C5 Z06. It has seen a fair amount of road-course track time and has run with perfection. I have always driven it to and from the track. However, like the ’78 which got the LS6, and the ’81 I had turbocharged, the 405 horsepower my Z06 came with was just not enough anymore. The solution to obtaining more horsepower seemed easy but it was not. And, the process of selecting the right “system” was as much an exercise in acquiring and understanding data as it was in setting objectives and priorities. I chose the Magnacharger Supercharger. This system is available for Corvettes only from Callaway Cars. It is a Roots-type system which sits on top of the engine as opposed to being positioned low and in front of or beside the engine. You have probably seen recent articles on their Callaway C16 which is exclusively made-to-order. I purchased the blower from Callaway, but only after months of studying my options and talking directly with the manufacturers and dealer/installers.
The Investigation -
I decided one day in early 2007 that (as indicated above) my 2002 Z06's stock 405hp, was just not enough any more. Even though I had already owned a turbocharged Corvette, which I loved, the availability of sophisticated street applicable superchargers in the marketplace pointed me in a different direction this time. However, when I started to investigate superchargers I found the process to be ill-defined and the selection process to be marketing-driven by installers, not drivers. My question was; how do I determine which supercharger to buy? Being a management and organizational development specialist I created a simple, yet (as I found it to be) highly effective, process that would guide me through the maze of misinformation and would give me the data I personally needed to increase the probability of my final decision being correct. I spent months talking with owners of supercharged and turbocharged Corvettes about their installations; what they liked most about it; and, what changes they made post-installation to improve or customize their system of choice to their actual driving style. The process worked. I could not be more pleased with my newly supercharged C5 Z06. Following is the prioritized process I developed and followed. I hope it helps some of you who are considering supercharging.
Identify how you use your Corvette:ONE PERSON'S SUPERCHARGER SELECTION PROCESSAND RECOMMENDATIONS TO OTHER CORVETTE OWNERS
My selected responses were: 2) Weekly use; 5) Street and track; and, 7) Prefer road course
- Daily use
- Weekly use
- Limited use
- Street only
- Street and track
- Track only
- Prefer road course
- Prefer drag racing
Identify your objectives
My objectives were clear
Speak with owners of supercharged and turbocharged Corvettes
- Be faster than the 505 HP C6 Z06 Corvette;
- Be a highly drivable and reliable weekly use Corvette
- Be competitive and safe at occasional track day events
- Not require internal engine modification; and,
- Bring my horsepower into the 550 HP range.
Owners of Vettes with a turbo system may share some of the installation and post-installation driving issues as owners of supercharged systems. It’s more about how high horsepower bolt-on systems work with the rest of the car. Where are the weak points and where are the strong points. I spent months talking with owners about their installations and what they liked most about their system. What I found to be most interesting is when we discussed what changes they made post-installation to improve or customize their system to their actual driving habits and use. Drag racers found themselves upgrading clutches right away while those favoring road courses worried most about cooling. These conversations helped me immensely in developing relevant questions to ask manufactures and dealer/installers.
Visit or call manufacturers of the superchargers you are considering
Look at what comes with the installation, and what doesn't’t. (eg: Air intake systems, larger mm injectors, intercooler, etc.) What developmental work are they currently doing to upgrade or improve their system based on customer feedback or their own internal research… and, when are those improvements scheduled to be integrated into production units? Ask about belt tossing issues under throttle, overheating, and most of all - reliability. Ask what the boost is pre-set to and/or what they recommend. Also ask about dealer/installers the manufacturer would recommend in your geographical area. Remember, how a dealer (or installer) treats you during this investigative period is an indication as to how they will treat you if you have post-installation issues.
Call or visit the dealer/installer you might use
I always spoke with the owner or a senior installation tech. Ask them such direct questions as; why is your system better? Do you install more superchargers or turbochargers? Is your customer base made up of more drag racers or road course enthusiasts? Also, ask the same questions you asked the manufacturers; about belt issues, overheating, and reliability. It’s amazing how different the answers might be. One manufacturer provided me the name and number of their “best” installer. I spoke with the owner of that installation shop who had a single answer to every question… “our system will make you faster”. Not only was he not interested in addressing my driving style and objectives, I learned that installation of Roots-type superchargers was not their favored method of adding horsepower. For those of you just start starting out on this quest, the Roots type of supercharger is installed on top of the engine vs, low and in front of or beside the engine. I went with a Roots type. I decided that if I was going with a supercharger system and insisted on reliability as a major requirement that I should at least make sure I had air blown direct and instantly into the engine. The end product was a factory set boost level that would support reliability while, due to the system design, would provide maximum power available under those requirements.
Create your own package
Consider developing a three-phase installation package:
(A) pre-supercharger installation,
(B) real-time (concurrent) with the supercharger, and
(C) post-supercharger installation.
Your package would take into consideration installing additional aftermarket performance add-ons intended to enhance your supercharger. Base it on you budget and/or what you items you feel you have sufficiently researched. No one wants to find out just after shelling out thousands of dollars that a different aftermarket item works better for your requirements than what you just had installed. Bottom line; if you don’t feel you have enough information on each, don’t install the numerous add-on’s available until you are comfortable. Remember, your goal is to end up with the best system for your personal application, not the application of the installer’s choice or that of a previous customer. For example; while some performance and safety items should be addressed at the same time your supercharger is installed, others are easily added before or after the supercharger is installed.
An example of a pre-installation phase item: Since you will have the ability to go much faster then before adding the supercharger you will need better braking. This is not an item to be glossed over but rather an item that I considered critical. For example; in addition to upgrading to slotted and/or drilled rotors and semi-race pads, you should seriously consider having stainless braided brake lines installed front and rear. And, if you plan on participating in any of the numerous road course “track days” available don’t forget to have your brake and power steering fluids changed to fluids having higher temp specifications. If you are an aggressive driver, nothing can ruin your day faster than fading brakes or boiling power steering fluid. You can upgrade the brakes while you are going through the supercharger selection process so it becomes a pre-installation phase expense.
An example of a post-installation phase item: Adding headers and/or a new exhaust system to your supercharger system is not mandatory to obtain an increase of 140 or more horsepower with your supercharger. However, adding the header/exhaust system at the same time will result in your spending upwards of several thousand dollars more on the initial purchase and installation of your supercharger system. Consider making this part of Phase 3, a post-installation phase. The money you save doing it at the same time is minimal.
Learn to drive your Vette all over again: Significant changes to horsepower mean your car will respond differently and as such you need to learn how to drive it all over again. A third gear full throttle blast can turn your supercharged Vette sideways if you are not prepared. Using your throttle beneficially and not irresponsibly can be learned during track days at such tracks as Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, or, via one of their several advanced driving schools in which they put you in one of their Z06 Corvettes.
And finally; it’s always cool to say you blew off a Viper or a GT2 or GT3 Porsche when the opportunity presents itself, or that you had a great day running the canyons. However, that is fast becoming old school. Today, most of us motorsport nuts are still all about the excitement of horsepower on demand but, many of us have been availing ourselves of the increase in available supervised track days. Let there be no mistake though, an aggressive (but safe) sprint down a long on-ramp will always be king!
Oh, by the way, having selected the Callaway Magnacharger Supercharger, I did it in two phases and could not be happier. After the initial supercharger installation I added the Callaway air intake, exhaust system, and a few other items. I never had that feeling of concern you can get when a local speed shop that does not specialize in such projects has your car. This process helps you identify those speed shops worthy of your business and your trust. The Callaway staff was professional and thorough and carried their supercar builder status and skills over into how they installed each item I purchased. My needs, safety and understanding were preeminent in their process. The integration and convergence of their design and installation processes blended so well with my organizational process that I truly have the car I wanted.