If 454 cubes aren't enough for you, consider this modified LS2 block from ERL (www.erlperformance.com). Fitted with the company's "Superdeck 2" deck plate, it can accommodate displacements of up to 500 ci when fitted with a custom (4.500-inch stroke) crank. Corvette tuner Chuck Mallett was among the first to receive one of these behemoths, so don't be surprised to see an 8.2-liter C6 screamer bearing the Mallett Cars logo in the very near future.
From the "What took you so long?" file comes this comprehensively rejiggered LT1/LT4 OptiSpark distributor from MSD (www.msdignition.com). Dubbed the "Pro-Billet" to reflect its billet-aluminum construction, the unit is equipped with extra-thick mounting flanges to help prevent warping, a large ball-bearing assembly to stabilize high-rpm operation, and an advanced optical-encoder trigger said to be vastly superior to the OEM pickup. The Pro-Billet LT1 distributor even features an adjustment screw that makes it possible to advance or retard timing by up to 5 degrees. We'll be installing one of these pieces on our '96 coupe around the time you read this; look for details in an upcoming issue.
AFCO (www.afcoracing.com) calls its new M2 shock absorber "the ultimate weapon," a title that becomes more persuasive once you've had a chance to review the unit's specifications. The M2's most striking departure from shock-design orthodoxy can be found in its canister, which uses a bladder-rather than a conventional piston-to purportedly reduce cavitation and provide a quicker, more positive response to a variety of inputs. Also of note is the M2's "Swiv-Align" floating spring seat, which the company claims greatly diminishes the side loads placed on the shock's shaft during compression.
With so many fresh Gen III head castings breaking cover at this year's trade shows, it's not all that surprising that at least one manufacturer saw fit to unveil an all-new LS-series intake manifold. Professional Products' (www.professional-products.com) aluminum "Power Plus Typhoon" (shown here in optional polished form) is said to dramatically outperform GM's LS6 unit at low-to-mid rpm and equal or better it at higher revs. The Typhoon is available in two versions, to fit LS1 and LS2 engines, and will accommodate either stock or Professional Products' upsized throttle bodies. Matching fuel-rail kits are also available.
Roger and Joe Vinci, of Vinci High Performance (www.vincihighperformance.com), made the short drive to the PRI show-held for the first time this year in Orlando-from their shop in Maitland, Florida. While there, the two showed off their "Punisher" C6 project car, which had recently been fitted with VHP's ultra-trick line-lock kit...
and a "very early prototype" cold-air-induction package. The line lock is custom fitted to the C6 chassis and features an engagement button concealed in the automatic-transmission lever's engagement button. Very cool.
OK, so it's not a Corvette, but it's a lot closer than you might think. The latest offering from longtime replica builder Factory Five Racing (www.factoryfive.com), the GTM-200 is a carbon-fiber "assembler" ("kit car" sounds so declasse) that promises Ferrari Enzo performance at a fraction of the price. All you have to do is supply your own C5 chassis and engine, along with a Porsche G-50 transaxle, then free up 200-odd hours of garage time in which to screw the whole caboodle together. Weighing in at only 2,250 pounds fully dressed and packing 345-plus horsepower, the GTM-200 promises acceleration bordering on the stupefying. Further stupefaction may be derived by substituting an LS7 crate engine-in fact, Factory Five had completed just such an installation in the days leading up to the SEMA show. For the moderately well-heeled (the kit itself goes for $19,900, donor car not included), the GTM-200 is as close to a street-legal Corvette race car as it gets.
Perhaps hoping to capitalize on the Gen III's growing popularity as a drag- and road-race engine, valvetrain giant Crane Cams (www.cranecams.com) introduced a shaft-mounted rocker arm for LS-series applications. While these rockers do require some machining of the cylinder head to install, Crane claims a 1.7-ratio set actually outperformed a set of 1.8-ratio conventional roller rockers by 7 hp on an engine dyno.
Several years late to the DOT drag-tire party, Goodyear (www.racegoodyear.com) nevertheless appears poised to stick around for a while (get it?). Like some of the more recent drag-radial offerings from Mickey Thompson and M&H, the Goodyears feature an extremely aggressive (read: virtually nonexistent) tread pattern and a rubber compound that closely resembles partially chewed Hubba Bubba. Don't let the factory C4 wheel fool you-a Goodyear rep practically threw a clot when we asked whether the tires could be used on the street.