Car Feature: Orange Cure for Monotony

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*Photos by: the author

Building the ultimate street car is about as subjective as critiquing a piece of art. What may be overkill, ugly, or undesirable to one person is seen as a masterpiece by others. There is, however, very little one might consider subjective about Matt Miller’s 2007 Z06. It embodies what all gearheads dreams of for a max effort street cruiser that can hold its own at any road course – not to mention do so while looking indescribably menacing and badass. This was precisely what Matt wished to accomplish for himself, and it’s safe to say the teacher is giving him an ‘A’.

I guess after more than 10 years competitively racing in a circle track Modified each weekend or nailing apexes around a road course in an LS-powered V8 Stock Car, it may take a lot of ponies under the hood to remotely excite you. That was the case with Matt Miller, who traded in a perfectly good 2010 SS Camaro for what would eventually become the beast presented before you. “I’ve had the opportunity to to be involved in many different aspects of motorsports and driven many different types of vehicles over the years,” he explains.

Because of that, “I was completely underwhelmed by the performance and handling of the SS and was looking for something with raw power and handling that could be felt through the wheel.” Being a GM guy, that only meant one thing: buying a Corvette and it had to be a C6 Z06. He found a black, low-mile Z06 at a local dealer and made the trade.

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But, why stop there? Clearly stock is boring to such a fellow, so what’s one to do? Well, you throw the best parts American currency can buy it. After a very brief period of time owning the Z, Matt set out to take the car to the next level and call it a day. But unfortunately for Matt, he didn’t exactly have the free time to perform these enhancements on his own. Throughout the week he busies himself by running his own business and keeping his race cars in top shape for the weekend races. So that meant that if he wanted to get things done properly, he had to link up with some of the best in the biz. After looking around, he gave a ring to the boys at Powertech Performance in Clearwater, Florida and pled his case to its knowledgeable staff. The plan was relatively simple; make everything bigger, better, and cooler while using only parts with proven reputations.

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Starting with the chassis, the entire Pfadt catalog was thrown at the Z. It’s Johnny O’Connell series is known for turning up the Corvette’s already well balanced suspension to 11. That sounded good to Matt, and Johnny’s seal of approval and extensive endurance racing background didn’t hurt either. Both the front and rear are suspended by adjustable coilovers and lowered for perfect wheel gap as opposed to corner balance. Since this wasn’t going to be a full blown track car, they opted for the lights swaybars.

In anticipation for the stickier corner potential and power, ultra high performance Nitto NT-05 and NT-05R hides were mounted on a pair of Forgestar F14 wheels in staggered 18×10- and 19×12-inch measurements. Peeking out behind those black wheels are a set of DBA 2-piece slotted rotors up front and traditional DBA slotted rears with Hawk HP+ pads.

All things considered, it’s crazy to think that GM even released a 505hp naturally aspirated 427ci V8 for a street car in 2006. Just a quick look back at the LS1 Corvette and Camaro hey days and a 427 LS was Corvette Racing C5.R block territory. That was precisely the idea behind the release of the LS7 in the first place – LeMans race homologation.

Even crazier is that Matt felt he needed even more power squeezed out of his. It’s well known that these engines have a lot of room to grow and respond well to increases in volumetric efficiency.

A somewhat common problem found on LS7 heads are valve breakages. Call it material failure, too much RPM, or tolerance issues – whatever the case may be some cars have it, others don’t and never will. Not willing to take that risk, the boys at Powertech ordered a set of RHS Pro Elite aluminum heads that move a ton of air. The heads benefit from slightly heavier but stronger stainless steel valves and are a staple Z06 mod for most serious builds. To take full advantage of the heads, the stock LS7 manifold was tossed in favor of a FAST LSX-R with a Nick Williams 102mm throttle body. In front of that big blade rests a carbon fiber WCC Hurricane intake to free up even more breathing.

Commanding the 2.205-inch intake and 1.615-inch exhaust valves is a beefy custom COMP camshaft. After running through the targets of the car, Powertech concocted a .661/.652 lift and 247/258 duration bumpstick. They felt it would deliver good power while not sacrificing driveability too much. To finish off the LS7, American Racing 1 7/8-inch headers with catless mids were installed and the laughter of the all aluminum mill cackles from a B&B Bullet catback. Inside the transaxle a Mantic 9000 Cerametallic clutch delivers the power to the rear wheels.

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After the engine was buttoned up, Matt called Jeremy Formato to squeeze out as many horses he could. When the dyno rollers finally stopped, the Z06 was pushing 587 rwhp and 518 ft/lbs. That’s roughly 675-680 horsepower at the crank in a 3100-lb car with grip for days. It goes without saying that Matt was grinning from ear to ear. The finishing touch was to change the look of the car to match its underhood menace.

Having been through the hassles of painting on his other toy, a rare hardtop 2000 SS, Matt wasn’t too interested in going down that road again. Instead, he contacted Krystal at Candy Wraps in the Tampa, Florida area to cover his Corvette in matte orange. “Krystal and I met up to look at several color samples she offered in matte orange,” he explains. “Once I saw this bright, ultra saturated sample from Arlon 3M, that was it.” After just two days and no need for full vehicle disassembly, Matt was shown his completed Z06 and it’s is the definition of badass.Matt Miller takes his 2007 Z06 to the next level for his personal amusement.

C6ZO-8 copyMake no mistake in thinking that this is a show car or garage queen, however it’s cleanly executed enough to be one. The Z is driven as often as work and racing permit. Matt will occasionally go to a car show or meet, but it’s mostly to look around and laugh at what kids are doing these days. He’s usually found bending the law with his bride in the passenger seat and enjoying the car properly. There are future plans to make use of his NASA racing license and maybe take the car to a few track days. For now, it’s just his cure for boredom.

When it comes down to it, you build a car for yourself and not for other people. It’s only when you start to chase the people around you that you’re never satisfied. That’s why it’s hard for most people to ever say ‘the build is done.’ Matt says his build is mostly done, save for an oiling upgrade. “I realize I could have gone with some form of forced induction, but I always liked naturally aspirated and squeezing every bit of volumetric efficiency out of an engine,” he proclaims. “I’m not out to break any records, just have a sick toy.” Mission accomplished, Matt.

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  • CAR: 2007 Corvette Z06
  • OWNER: Matt Miller
  • BUILT BY: Powertech Performance; Clearwater, FL
  • ENGINE BLOCK: Stock LS7; aluminum block
  • EXTERIOR: Arlon 3M Matte Orange and Matte Black roof panel by Candy Wraps; Tampa, FL
  • INTERIOR: Alcantara steering wheel, shifter, parking break, and accent panels.
  • PISTONS: Stock LS7
  • CAMSHAFT: Custom Comp Cams .661/.652 247/258 112 LSA
  • IGNITION: Katech Wires and NGK7EF plugs
  • EXHAUST: American Racing 1-7/8 longtube headers, catless mid-pipe, and B&B Bullet catback.
  • OILING: Stock
  • TUNING: Jeremy Formato; Tampa, FL
  • TRANSMISSION: Stock T-56
  • CLUTCH: Mantic 9000 Cerametallic
  • REAREND: Stock; 3.42 gears
  • SUSPENSION: Pfadt Johnny O’Connell Series coilovers and Llight Race sway bars.
  • BRAKES: DBA 5000-series slotted front rotors and DBA 4000-series slotted rear rotors. Hawk HP+ pads.
  • WHEELS: Forgestar F14 in Matte Black; 18X10 and 19X12
  • TIRES: Nitto NT05 285/35-18, and NT05R 345/30R19
  • HP/TQ: 587/518 to the wheels


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