its barely two years old, the C5 has accumulated a fairly significant number of
misconceptions about its specifications, responsiveness to modifications, and its
future. Here are the facts on some of the most common C5 (and performance cars in
- The LS-1 is the same as older small blocks. Not true.
The LS-1 is a completely new design, revised from the ground-up, and displaces 346
cubic inches (not 350). It shares no components except rod bearings with any earlier
small blocks, including the LT4. The LS-1 will not swap into older chassis without
substantial modifications. The good news the LS-1 is probably the best small block
ever, with a stronger bottom end, better cooling and lubrication, and lighter weight than
any previous production small block.
- A computer chip is the secret to making LS-1 power.
Not true. With the advent of OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics, Gen. II), the Powertrain
Control Module (PCM) has to monitor far more systems and parameters than ever
before. To prevent tampering with this new system the C5s PCM does not have a
chip access port nor does it have any way of accessing the internal program parameters,
such as fuel curves, ignition timing, and rev limiters. Without factory assistance,
there is no way of modifying the C5s computer for more performance. The good
news is that it probably isnt necessary. We run our 372 cubic inch motors with
the stock PCM, and they idle well, pull hard, and make serious power, while remaining
docile and emissions-legal. Dont worry about the computer being the weak link
in your performance strategy.
- Bolt-on C5 superchargers are just around the corner.
Not true. Unfortunately, the same computer that makes modifications so easy on a naturally
aspirated LS-1 also makes it nearly impossible to run positive manifold pressure through
the engine, such as in a boosted application. The problem is that the computer is almost
too smart. When, for example, it sees too much air flowing through the mass air flow
sensor (MAF) for a given engine speed (such as in a supercharged application), it will
assume that there is something wrong with the car, trigger a trouble code, and revert to
what is commonly called "limp-home mode" which means reduced engine power to
prevent damage. Other sensors that make this a real problem include the manifold
absolute pressure sensor (MAP), and the oxygen sensors (HO2S). The only way around
it is with a custom computer. The good news Mallett Cars is working on a
supercharger program to make a Vortech-supercharged C5 a reality. Stay tuned for
- The LS-1 needs headers. Not true. In stock
motors, the exhaust headers actually flow better than the engines heads, and adding
headers will not add power (and may cost power from reduced exhaust scavenging and
velocity). Like the computer, our 372 cubic inch LS-1 motors use stock headers and
H-pipes, and work very well with them, and there certainly isnt 30 horsepower hidden
in there. The catalytic converters remain the biggest restriction in the C5s
exhaust system, to the tune of about 12 horsepower on an otherwise stock motor.
There are several other points which are important to remember emissions controls
are a realityto comply with tightening standards, the double-wall headers and H-pipe
should stay on the car (this promotes quick catalyst light-off). Also, a little back
pressure in the exhaust is a good thingthe catalytic converters and mufflers provide
enough so that the LS-1 has a strong low-end pull. Without a little back pressure,
the car would not have the low-rpm torque it currently enjoys. The good news
the money you wanted to spend on headers can now be spent where it will do some good.
- The Z-51 suspension rides too harshly for daily driving.
Probably not true. By now, there are almost 20,000 C5s on the road, and
Ill wager that most of them did not choose the Z-51 setup because of ride quality
fears. Fear not, since the realities of suspension design are this in the
past, heavy springs were used to not only control wheel movement, but also to compensate
for chassis flex, which acted to reduce actual spring rates. With the C5s
ultra-stout frame and backbone powertrain, the chassis no longer has to endure the force
of the engines power moving through it, and the suspension is more rigidly mounted.
Softer springs can be used, because all they have to do now is control the wheels,
not mask poor chassis design. This means that a good ride and exceptional handling
are able to coexist on the same car. If you have concerns, by all means, drive a
Z-51 before writing the check. But if you want the advice of the experts, choose the
Z-51I guarantee you wont be disappointed. It makes the best foundation
for real performance suspension improvements.
- Horsepower is all I need to be fast. Maybe, but only
to a certain point. Youve seen professional drag racersthey launch hard.
Somehow, theyre managing to hook up hundreds, sometimes thousands, of
horsepower and put it to the pavement. In the back of your mind, you probably know
this is truehorsepower is nothing if you cant hook it up. So why are
there so many of you out there looking for 450 horsepower engines in your stock-suspension
cars? All youll make is expensive tire smoke. Put a suspension and some real
performance tires (not the run-flats) under your stock motor, and not only will it be
faster in the corners, Ill wager that it launches harder and youll go faster
in the quarter mile (and stoplight) drags, too.
- The next factory Corvette motor will be a 425+ horsepower
Viper killer. Although GM is very good at hiding its secrets, I wouldnt expect
to see a huge increase in either displacement or horsepower from upcoming Corvette
powerplants. The oft-rumored LS-6 motor will probably be a slightly revised version
of the LS-1, with a different cam and cylinder heads. Most likely, it will provide
the performance difference that, say, the LT4 provided over the LT1more power, but
only when you really work the car hard. How much will it cost? Who can say?
But I certainly wouldnt hold my breath waiting for the return of the $30,000
- The C6 Corvette will be powered by a cold fusion reactor
designed and built with technology stolen from the aliens who landed at Roswell. Yep, GM
has acquired the wreckage. Expect this 600+mph supercar to hit the streets sometime
after the turn of the century. You will need a suspension on this car.
- If youve got anything to add, we welcome your
questions, comments, and conspiratorial speculations. If youre looking to make
your car faster, give us a callwell tell you how to do it without wasting your
time or your money on parts that sound like a good idea, but are less than ideal in
application. Weve run as fast as 11.99 @ 117.38 mph on street tires through
the catalytic converters in a 1998 C5, so the potential is definitely there. All you
have to do is know the right people. The right people can be reached at:
484 Geiger St.
Berea, OH 44017