765 HP 2006 ZR1-Like Corvette Daily Driver
The Corvette community helps Scott McKay build his daily driver ZR1-like ’06 Roadster without breaking the bank!
Little did Scott McKay, of Voorhees, New Jersey, know back in ’06 when he took delivery of his new ’06 Corvette convertible that the car would become a five year project car. McKay was so happy with his new Corvette, he made the decision early on in his modification project that the car would be a keeper. Even today with the C7 finally being out, Scott has no desire to sell his ’06 Roadster for a new Stingray.
The ’06 Roadster is not Scott’s first Vette and all four of his Corvettes were daily drivers. He owned as two ‘69 Corvettes (one modified with a station wagon body kit), and an ‘01 convertible. From ‘84 to ‘02 McKay owned The Max Auto Detailing shop in Pennsauken and later in Westmont, NJ, so Scott’s rides always look premo. According to McKay, “When I saw the C6 convertible I said to myself, I have to have one! And, I decided that I was NOT going to modify it. I just wanted a stock Corvette. (This notion did not last long!) Besides, the car was so nice, what more could I want?”
It’s common these days to package and save any and all stock parts if you are modifying a newer Corvette so that later down the road if you want to sell the car, you can take it back to stock, but sure is a ton of work. So, without that sentiment, McKay decided to use the online Corvette community, the CorvetteForum.com, as not only a source for solving quirky problems and build issues, but also as a place to sell off his stock parts to help defray the cost of the performance parts he was adding to the car. While the sale of the stock parts didn’t completely cover the cost of the aftermarket hardware, it sure made a difference. Scott couldn’t heap enough praise on the CorvetteForum.com community for their help and friendship. What makes McKay’s experience even more unique is that the Corvette is Scott’s daily driver. Yes, every change and modification Scott had done on the car was worked in around his schedule.
Fresh from the factory in November ‘05, the Machine Silver ‘06 Corvette came with the stock 400-HP LS2 engine and a nice selection of options, including; the six-speed automatic transmission with Paddle Shift, Z51 suspension package, 3LT Preferred Equipment Group for convertible, chrome polished wheels, navigation system, power top, and the U3U AM/FM CD DVD Nav with XM.
Since Scott had experience modifying street Corvettes, it took about a year for the itch set in. Before we get into the specifics of how McKay personalized his roadster, it’s worth mentioning two important things. First, thanks to Scott’s 18 years of detailing cars, he was very comfortable with taking cars apart. “I know my limits and when to let the pros take over.” Thus began McKay’s odyssey to build “his” ultimate daily driver Corvette.
Early ‘07 – Wheels & Tires
Like most hot rodders, first things, first, was a new set of wheels and tires. After searching Scott decided on a set of rims from West Coast Corvettes. The roadster is now running on 19 x 9.5 front rims and 20 x 12 rear rims, picking up an inch in diameter and width up front and an inch diameter and two-inches width on the back. The larger and wider rims are now wearing Michelin PS2 275-35R19s on the front and Michelin PS2 335/30R20s on the rear. The new wheels and tires would completely fill the wheel wells and set the stage for the Z06 rear fenders modification. Scott’s friends at Elite Bodyworks in Atco, New Jersey did all of the Z06 widebody mods and paint. McKay recouped about 30% of the cost of the new wheels by selling his stock rims through Corvette Forum.
October ’07 – Headers
With more tire grip on all four corners, McKay began his quest for more horsepower. Old hot rod tricks never die; they just get made from better materials. A set of Kooks Corvette Headers with 1-3/4” primaries and 3” collectors were installed along with a MagnaFlow stainless steel x-pipe, and catback exhaust system. McKay is friends with a local Meineke Muffler shop owner that performed the exhaust work. And while at the shop, Scott installed an Elite Engineering ABS tunnel plate with insulation that reduced the interior heat by 10-15 degrees.
December ‘07 – LS3 Heads & Intake
By the end of ‘07, it was obvious to McKay that with the exhaust breathing opened up, it was time to improve the intake side. The stock LS2 intake manifold was replaced with a L92/L76 (LS3) head and intake combo from SLP. Between the improved intake and exhaust breathing, the LS2 engine dynoed at 504-HP. This is a real testimonial as to how much meat Chevrolet engineers left in the LS2 engine.
October ‘08 – The Lambo Doors
With 500-HP under his right foot, cool-looking wheels, and fat tires, McKay was a happy Corvette man. But remember, this is a guy that likes to take cars apart, so it wasn’t long before Scott got itchy for something cool and unusual. Corvettes are not only low to the ground, the doors are “long.” Since this is McKay’s daily driver, he’s in and out of the car a lot. Scott reasoned that this was the perfect time to install a Vertical Door Kit from Sterling Accessories. The only thing that needs to be changed are the door hinges. Aside from a slight grind on the leading edge of the doors, nothing else needs to be modified. The doors open “out” first, then “up.” Installing the new doors is a one-day project and is definitely a two man job. Friends from First Choice Collision in Voorhees helped with the door hinge project. “Most people think that the entire door assembly is aftermarket and are surprised to learn that it’s only the hinges that are changed.”
May ‘09 – Brakes
We all know what happens when you have more horsepower, you need more “Whoa!” to slow down the extra “Go!!!” Since this isn’t a racecar, McKay determined that a set of factory Z06 brakes would be plenty for his daily driver. The stock ‘06 Corvette comes with 12.8 x 1.26-inch front rotors and 12 x 1-inch rear rotors with 4-piston front and rear calipers. The complete Z06 brake system from West Coast Corvettes includes 14 x 1.26-inch front rotors with 6-piston anti-lock front calipers and 13.4 x 1.02-inch rear rotors with 4-piston anti-lock rear calipers. Stock C6 Corvette brakes are excellent, but the Z06 brakes take stopping to the next level of performance.
Sept ‘09 – Supercharger 650 HP
You know what “they” say; “you can’t be too rich, too tan, or have too much horsepower!” Okay, I added the last part, but what high performance enthusiast doesn’t want more scoot? The Roots-type superchargers were popularized in the early days of drag racing and under-the-hood centrifugal superchargers were popularized by Robert Paxton McCulloch and date back to 1937! The little pancake-like units are perfect for stealth supercharging because they are completely contained under-the-hood of the car. McKay decided upon a Paxton supercharger setup from East Coast Superchargers, in Cream Ridge, New Jersey. This was definitely a “leave it to the pros” job.
The tidy Paxton SC600 unit bolts on the front right side of the LS2 engine, runs off the serpentine belt, and packs 7.5-psi of boost. Included in the setup is polished intake ducting, an ECS oversized intercooler, an MDS boost pump, and #60 Motron injectors. Between the enhanced intake and exhaust systems, and the supercharger, McKay’s LS2 was now producing 650-HP at the crank! Scott reports that the nice part about the system is that if you keep your foot out of it, the car runs just like a stocker. But get that Paxton spooled up, and hold on Nelly! Would McKay want more? Wait and see.
March ‘10 – Suspension
By now it was early 2010 and with 650-HP on tap, big tires, wheels, and brakes on the ‘06 Roadster, it was obvious that the suspension could use some improvement. McKay opted for a coil-over system from PFADT Race Engineering that included double-adjustable Featherlight Generation coilovers, PFADT Street sway bars, and full poly bushing and camber kit. The beauty of the system is that the PFADT setup is adjustable with 18 settings from track-to-cruise settings. “As good as the stock Corvette is in the handling department, the suspension kit completely eliminates all sense of body lean.” reports McKay. Does it get any better?
April ‘10 – Alcohol system 765-HP
After about six months of enjoying 650-horsepower, McKay found himself back at East Coast Supercharging for another injection of power and a slight problem to solve. The Alky Kit is specifically designed for blown engines to prevent cylinder detonation, aka “pinging.” With a compressed aluminum engine, that ping could easily become a POW! The system starts to mist E100 alcohol directly into the throttle body at 5-psi from alcohol stored in the windshield washer tank. The benefit of the washer tank is that it will tell you when you are low on meth. And talk about a win-win. Not only does the Alky Kit solve the dreaded pinging issue, it makes more power. After the kit was installed, the boost was increased from 7.5-psi to 11-psi and the engine was dynoed at 765-HP at the crank!
April ‘10 – Z06 rear fenders
Aside for the big wheels and tires, all of McKay’s mods have been under the fiberglass. With almost double the horsepower from when the car first left Bowling Green, Scott decided it was time for some dress up accessories. In the Spring of ‘10 the big rear Michelins were housed in a set of Z06 rear fenders, modified to fit the roadster body. McKay’s been asked more than a few times if his car is a Z06 Roadster.
March ‘10 to ‘11 Interior upgrades
McKay spruced up the interior with a console armrest pad, an A-pillar gauge kit custom molded and wrapped in leather from DSV, carbon fiber console and steering wheel trim kit, ZR1 seat covers and pads, black-on white gauge faces, Corvette Racing floor mats, and a Pioneer head Unit Z130BT and Image Dynamic speakers.
This is about the time that I first met Scott McKay at the Strictly Corvettes Show in Atlantic City. Scott was displaying his car at the show with his pal, Dewey Powel, who was showing his daily driver – an all-black, dual-quad 392 Hemi 4WD ’69 Corvette! Scott told me that he was thinking about doing the front end so that the car would look like a ZR1 Roadster. Since his car was supercharged like the ZR1 and already had the wide rear fenders, you could tell where he was wanting to go next with the car.
Spring ’12 – Carbon fiber ZR1 widebody front end
McKay researched a factory ZR1 carbon fiber front end and learned that they are really expensive, so an aftermarket source was located. All project cars have an occasional bout of Murphy’s Law, where if anything could go wrong, it will. It took 10 months to get all of the parts and there was a lot of trimming and finessing to get everything to line up and work right. And while he was at it, Scott installed a new rear diffuser and side skirts, all in carbon fiber. With the wide ZR1 front fenders, McKay “could” get wider front wheels and tires. He opted to keep the same wheels, but added a wider lip to the fronts so they are now 19X10 now to accommodate new Michelin Pilot SS 295/30/19’s. He also added 345/30/20’s to the rears.
After updating wheels, tires and suspension, it was time to make sure the car drove straight. McKay found Joe Aquilante, a long time car racer who owns Phoenix Performance in Pennsylvania. Joe’s team of professionals did a street alignment on the car with ride height adjustments so the car would track down the road nicely.
Around the same time, Scott noticed that he was having heat issues with his supercharged LS2, so he installed a Ron Davis all-aluminum radiator with double the thickness as the stock unit. No more heat issues. And lastly, since the car was pushing five years of daily use, Scott had an RPM Stage III rear with 3.15:1 gears and hardened shafts. Here’s another example of using the Corvette Community to exchange parts. A member needed all stock fenders, quarters and bumper in the same Machine Silver. McKay traded his stock parts for the radiator and rear.
McKay simply cannot praise the Corvette community at CorvetteForum.com. Over the lifespan of his project he was able to sell off the following parts and occasionally, some of the parts went for more that the cost of the aftermarket parts. Scott’s sell off list includes, all of the stock body parts, rims, shocks, sway bars, leaf springs, Z51 calipers and rotors, taillights, and steering wheel.
So, is McKay’s daily driver done? Well, I’ll believe it when I see it. Before 1978 most Corvettes were daily drivers. The car now has around 83,000 miles on the odometer and Scott drives about 250 miles a week. There’s something very cool about a modern, personalized Corvette that is used and enjoyed every day by an owner that’s not at all reserved about making his Vette uniquely his own.
McKay would like to thank numerous people for his car. Jimmy and Mike from Elite Bodyworks in Atco, NJ. Nick from First Collision Voorhees, NJ. Paul from West Coast Corvettes. East Coast Corvettes and their mechanics. Joe and Jamie from Phoenix Performance. Mike Balser and Scott Buwalda for audio. Rick McCullough from RAAM, Mat for all his soundproofing materials and part swaps. Also Harry Fleming for the use of Flemings Junkyard for photos. Last but not least, Dewey Powell for all his advise over the years, probably the best mechanic anywhere.
Save the Wave! – Scott