Mario Mohan's '08 ZLS3 started out as a red Z51-equipped C6, before the wider bodywork and
Who needs another red C6?
Not that there’s anything wrong with that most eye-catching of colors when applied to the soon-to-be-previous generation of America’s Only True Sports Car.
It’s just that Mario Mohan didn’t want his latest Corvette to be confused with any other red-hued C6. “I wanted something that was different from everybody else’s car,” he says, “because everybody has a red Corvette!”
He also wanted one that was more of a street-friendly driver than the C5 he already had. “I reached the point where I raced it on the track, and it was not the ideal car for the street,” says Mohan. “So, my mission was to get a car with some power, for spirited street driving.”
That mission started with a regular-production ’08 C6, equipped with the RPO Z51 Performance Package. Soon after, the changes began, starting under the hood.
The F-1A ProCharger puffs out 16.5 psi of intercooled boost, and sounds great doing it.
The new-for-’08 LS3, factory rated at 430 horsepower, came out and was replaced by a custom LS mill built by Mike Tiedemann at MCP Competition Engines. Bored and stroked from 6.2 to 6.8 liters (416 cubic inches), it features a forged Callies crank, 9.0:1 compression Diamond Pistons, and Lunati H-beam rods to ensure suitability to the task of handling high power. Atop each cylinder bank is a Mast Motorsports “Black Label” 12-degree, 6-bolt head loaded with Manley valves and valve gear. The excellent factory coil-on-plug ignition system, meanwhile, was upgraded with Katech wires.
But that was far from all that went into—or on—the engine. For a power adder, Optimum Performance installed a ProCharger F-1A supercharger equipped with a Cartek “flip drive” and an 8-rib belt system. The custom-grind Comp camshaft is very supercharger friendly, as are the Melling oil pump and American Racing headers and exhaust. Optimum also did the drivetrain and fuel-system installs, and its tuning wiz, Adam Brandt, performed the necessary ECM thaumaturgy at the shop’s Bethpage, New York facility.
(If the Optimum name sounds familiar, it’s probably because the shop’s handiwork was featured in the cover stories of both our Sept. ’10 and March ’12 issues.)
To cope with the drastically elevated output of the blown stroker engine, the stock transaxle was replaced with a custom-built one by RPM Transmissions. It’s backed up by an RPS triple-disc carbon clutch, Driveshaft Shop axle shafts, an MGW shifter, and 3.73 gears.
Underneath, the C6 chassis also received its share of updates, including Pfadt Racing coilovers at each corner, behind a set of “orange-wall” Nitto tires mounted on 19-inch CCW billet aluminum wheels.
The car wears five-spoke CCWs at each corner, along with stock '08 Z51 brakes. ZR1-style f
We did say “orange wall,” right? That’s because Mohan had orange sidewall accents added to the Nittos to complement the orange paint that Joe Pardo at Westfield Collision sprayed on. “It’s not Inferno Orange,” Mohan says of the exterior color (Spies-Hecker’s Viper Orange Pearl, customized with light-gold flakes blended in). “Inferno Orange is a more recent color that came out after I painted my car.”
And why did he pick that particular shade, over some of the more popular aftermarket offerings? Says Mohan, “I’ve liked orange since I was 18 years old, when I had my first car, which was orange.”
Before its trip to the paint booth, Mohan’s ’08 had its front fenders and rear quarter- panels replaced with wider ZR1-style ones, to make plenty of room for the rolling stock inside each fenderwell.
Custom ZLS3 headrest embroidery further enlivens the cabin.
Inside, orange leather accents went on the seats, and orange carbon-fiber accents went on the console and dash, whose standard gauges were augmented by an auxiliary set—including boost and fuel-pressure gauges—on the left A-pillar. “I blended the upholstery and the carbon to match the paint, to create a car [that suits] my tastes,” says Mohan, who adds, “I believe I have one of the most beautiful C6 Corvettes on the streets. And I have the appropriate power…to get the car to go.”
Per Mohan, that “appropriate” power from his blown LS engine is 816 hp at the back wheels, though he says there’s more in it. “A thousand horsepower, I can make easy,” he says. “I have the capability of making it, but I cannot put it on the ground. So, it makes no sense to make it so ‘toxic’ that you cannot use it.” He adds, “I make what I can use, and I put what I can use to the ground. That’s the whole beauty of my car, and that’s why I can beat a lot Corvettes whose owners boast that they make over 1,000 horsepower. I put what I can use on the street.”
What’s this Vette like to drive? Mohan—and Optimum Performance’s Adam Brandt—agree on one thing: “The car will pin your eyeballs to the back window when you push on the throttle,” Brandt says.
If this C6 inspires you to do the same with your Corvette, Mohan has some advice for you: “Never spend ‘bad money.’ It’s best to buy the best parts first.” He adds, “From the minute you decide to go more than 50 percent of what GM supplies in a car, you are looking at the potential breaking of parts, so you need to change the drivetrain and other parts too.”
Do that, and you just might end up with an “appropriately” powered C6 like Mohan’s. vette
I believe I have one of the most beautiful C6 Corvettes on the streets. And I have the appropriate power to get the car to go.
2008 Chevy Corvette C6 Coupe
||Mario Mohan; Amityville, NY
||Mast Motorsports Black Label aluminum (12-deg, 6-bolt)
||MCP custom hydraulic roller by Comp Cams
||Diamond forged aluminum
||Callies forged steel
||Melling mechanical pump with external cooler
||Aeromotive 1000 external
||ProCharger F-1A supercharger with 8-rib belt system, 16.5 psi boost
||Stock coil-on-plug with Katech wires
||HP Tuners custom 2.5-bar OS, tuned by Adam Brandt at Optimum Performance
||American Racing 2-in headers and “X” crossover, C6 Z06 3-in exhaust run open
||RPM Transmissions Z06 six-speed manual
||C6 Z06 with 3.73 gears
||Pfadt Racing coilovers (front and rear)
||Stock C6 Z51 (front and rear)
||CCW 505A; 19x11 (front), 19x13 (rear)
||Nitto Invo 285/35ZR19 (front), Nitto NT05R 345/35ZR19 (rear)