corvette performance modifications
corvette performance modifications

The C5 is fast and civilized. LS-1 power is seamless, the broad power curve of this modern rendition of the famous Chevy small block puts horsepower to the pavement in a smooth, almost electric manner.  In stock trim the C5 has what the kids refer to as "street credit".
The original design of the LS-1 had two goals.
The first goal was to create a light weight efficient engine with enormous top end potential. 

The second goal was to create a platform that would deliver maximum street performance while at the same time minimize warranty claims.  GM decided to shift the power curve of the LS-1 away from the lower end of the rpm range.  

This shift in the power curve means less wear and tear on the drive train. This was a big motivator in GM's decision as it translates into fewer warranty repairs.

An unmodified C-5 will usually clock a 0 to 60 mph run in about 4.9 to 5.2 seconds. Stock quarter mile times are in the low to mid 13 second range.

With a little planning and some conservative modifications it is relatively easy to improve on those numbers.

[sexy c5]

 A few mods can make this vehicle a 180+ mph Daytona contender, that's nice but very few of us will ever take advantage of the C5's top end potential. The power must be available in the usable range (1,500 - 3,500 rpm) for serious street use.

That's what "Corvetteing" is all about. All the exotic electronic gizmo's in the world will not make up for a lack of brute low end, neck snapping torque.

The overwhelming majority of C5 owners are not into street racing. They do however want a car that will break the tires loose and pin you to the seat on demand. 

This is what Corvette owners call the "WOW" factor, it's what everyone you give a ride to says about the car.

Reality Check

We wanted to keep our modifications to the C5 stupid, simple and cheap so we deferred the head porting, cam re-grinding and forced induction for the time being.
We developed our performance manual for the average late model Corvette owner who is not into street or drag racing but does want to get a lot more of that "WOW" factor into his car.

There are not many C5 owners (apart from the truly fanatical street racer crowd) who are willing to tear apart an expensive car.
700 hp 10 second LS-1's are far and few between. The tall tales you read about in the Corvette forums and in many of the Corvette publications represent only a very small fraction of what is actually out there.

We don't want to belabor the point but the after market sales statistics for last year are in:
77% of all C5 owners bought a high performance air filter
26% an after market muffler system
32% interior parts
13% custom wheels

On the other hand: only
1% installed a Nitrous system
1% a supercharger
3% a performance intake manifold
9% headers
7% performance heads

We get many questions about duplicating the outlandish modifications that people read about in the Vette magazines and on line. Our advise in most cases is to keep mods to a C5 conservative. If you are new to hot rodding  you may not be able to live with modifications that will leave you with a bad idling, noisy car that tends to overheat and is hard to start.

The latest sales demographics show that 71 percent of all Corvette owners are over 45 years old.
Admit it guy's we are not exactly part of the fast and the furious crowd anymore.


The overwhelming demand from the C5 crowd is for simple and cheap mods that will give their new toy a some extra boost on the low to mid RPM ranges. A few simple mods will bring any C5 into the mid 4 second 0-60 mph range.


Real World Modifications that have proven to be very effective in raising the "seat of your pants" performance level. Although we can't go into everything here, the following will try to steer you in the right direction.

Remember that too much intake, without other serious modifications (gearing,heads,converters,cam) will leave you with a soggy right foot.
You hot rodders out there know what I am talking about, remember way back when your friends talked you into putting that 850 Holley double pumper with mechanical secondaries on your stock small block Chevy or Mopar that had a 2:76 rear end? What a disaster. The same principals apply to the C-5.

Performance modifications have to be planned out. Each upgrade must be part of a total package. Intake, Exhaust, Drive train, and electrical systems must compliment each other to achieve the proper balance of torque and horsepower at the correct rpm levels.


[LS1 heads][C5 gears][LS1 torque convertor][LS1 cam]

The C5's LS-1 responds very nicely to some minor tweaking of the stock intake system.  To put this in proper perspective the stock air intake on a C5 is akin to an Olympic athlete running the mile with a wad of cotton in his mouth.  In very simple terms, trash the entire setup from filter to throttle body bellows. A good after market CAI, (cold air intake) system will really wake up your otherwise stock LS-1.

The trick is to find the proper CAI system that will deliver copious amounts of fresh air to your engine while maintaining a high level of filtration.  The system must be mounted in the correct position and have a well engineered intake path that will minimize bends and turbulence.  The system must be easy to install and service, and most of all be cost effective.  A well engineered CAI can deliver a 15 to 20 hp increase.  A poorly designed system, and there are some real dogs out there, will at best cost you time, money and horsepower. A poorly designed system can also cause air/fuel calibration problems, due to poor sealing and restrictions. 

- We have tested all the after market cold air intake units. Details for getting the most bang for your buck are in the manual.

- How about an extremely simple, cheap and effective modification that tricks the computer into thinking its always 50 degrees outside, yielding a more aggressive timing curve. This mod is worth about 8 horses, total cost .25 cents.

- Want to learn about a gizmo that installs in less than 10 minutes costs under $50 and will yield a 13 horsepower increase?

- Want to learn how to easily re-engineer a simple part of your existing factory intake system for a 10 hp increase?

- Simple power producing cooling system mods are fully explained

- Exhaust system modifications that work without all the noise are explained

- On Board computer tuning, what actually works and how to do it

The simple modifications explained in out manual will put any run of the mill C4 or C5 into Z06 territory.

Want to learn how to do these and many more mods? Order our manual

For the Fast and Furious Crowd

Check out the latest nitrous technology.

A great bang for the buck modification, (the kids are addicted to it), is the addition of a nitrous kit to your C5. With Nitrous you can have your cake and eat it too. An otherwise stock LS1 when equipped with a well planned out nitrous system will blow the doors off a C6 and will run neck and neck with a new ZO6.

[C5 nitrous]

Nitrous Oxide Systems, now a division of Holley, makes a safe, reliable nitrous setup for the C5.
The entire system once installed with all the goodies is completely automated. In non computerized engines nitrous if not installed and set up correctly will in all probability fry the engine. We know a few engine re-builders that do a brisk business in piston and head gasket repairs due to improperly installed and poorly calibrated nitrous setups. The C5 is very forgiving in that respect as the computer can compensate for lean out conditions created by injecting laughing gas into the air box.

(Check out our MANUAL for the full scoop on nitrous).

The Bottom Line

With some minor tweaking to an LS-1, as detailed in our manual, the stock Good Year run flats will go up in smoke with an off the idle launch. 

A semi-hard 2000 rpm launch will leave you sitting there boiling the tires to the rims.
[c5]The LS-1 is really sensitive to changes in outside temp. On hot humid days the C5 struggles to make low rpm power. When the temp. drops to around 45-60 degrees the LS-1 really comes to life.

In the cold weather there is so much power that the rear end of the car will fishtail on a full throttle 1st to 2nd up shift (keep the traction control button on unless you want to wind up facing backwards).

"Running Shoes"

The run flats are the weak link in the acceleration game. On the other hand they ride great, are good on wet pavement, and have excellent tread life.
Good Year say's you can travel about 50 miles on them with no air. If you do get a flat don't use an air in the can flat fix to pump up an EMT tire. The sealant used in the flat fix will ruin the remote tire air pressure sensor and throw a computer code.


Keep an old fashion tire plug kit and a portable air compressor in the car in the event of a flat. You can probably plug the hole (if you can see it, usually a nail or screw) without removing the tire, then just pump up the tire. We have done this and the plugs hold fine.
FYI, the batteries in the rim mounted TPM sensors will crap out in about five years of use. The units have to be replaced as the batteries are sealed. New sensors retail for about $120 each, add tire mounting costs to this. If the sensors fail you have to reset the code every time you start the car. Thanks GM.

In an effort to gain some needed traction we fitted the C5 with a set of Nitto drag radials, damn the flat tires full speed ahead. We were surprised that these tires did not yield a significant improvement in traction over the stock GoodYears.

We also tried a set of Falken F452's on the rear. WOW! What a difference, these tires are extremely sticky off the line, and they retail for less then half of what a new Goodyear EMT is selling for. When the tires do manage to hook up and the acceleration God's are smiling, the car can do 0-60 in 4.32 seconds.

C5 Handling Mod

The standard mono tube (non-electronic)shocks on a C5 are pretty good for everyday driving.
After about 25k miles they tend to get a little tired. The problem was that up to now your only real options were factory replacements, hd Blistien shocks or super expensive coil-over units that require extensive alignment work. The factory shocks at $125 each are not much to talk about. The Blistien's are a cheaper alternative at around $80 each, but offer no real improvement in handling, deliver a harsher ride than stock and are a pain in the ass to install as the top studs are round and must be held in place with an allen wrench from inside the engine bay. This entails removing both the coolant and washer tanks to access the top of the shock studs.

We heard about Edelbrocks new line of IAS shocks, we contacted them and they sent us over a set to test on our C5.
The Edelbrock shocks shocks feature Ricor’s patented Inertia Active System (IAS). This exclusive design switches instantly between a firm and a soft circuit for superior handling and a smooth ride.

We installed these without using a lift in about an hour. The results are amazing. The car corners like a Grand Prix racer and rides like a Caddy. Retail price for these babies are $120 each. We give them a thumbs up for performance, easy installation and overall value.

Stock shock and new Edelbrock unit
[c5 shock]
[c5 shock]

Along with the "Go" you need some "Show"

After several agonizing attempts at sewing in a neat red and black wheel skin on a C5, our all male,all thumbed, staff called my wife , she had it perfectly installed in less then 20 minutes. We told her to quit her real job and go into business installing these things. A domed C5 wheel insignia adds the finishing touch.

[wheel skin]

Ultra Bright mats by Lloyd's help to perk up the interior

[wheel skin]

Other items that add some spice include color grab bars

[wheel skin]
[wheel skin]

Another great addition to any C5 interior are neoprene seat covers. These spill proof covers fit like a glove and protect your expensive leather. They are easy to install (about 15 min. per seat)and enhance the cool factor of your Vette dramatically. Mid America can supply you with a custom set of covers for about $250


The ultimate expression in coolness is a set of chrome ZO6 wheels. These after market units are very high quality, they came with logo center caps, chrome lug nuts and chrome valve stems. The ZO6 drilled and slotted rotors, rear air scoops,tinted signal lenses and front screens finish off the look

[c5][wheel skin]

[wheel skin]

As with other Corvette platforms the only limiting factor to the C5/LS1's potential is the size of your wallet and your desire to improve upon what the factory gave you.
The Vette Nuts

GM Technical Downloads for the 1997 - 2006 C5 and C6

C5 Owners Manual

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