Perhaps the concept of trickle-down economics isn’t all that far-fetched. Case in point: your author (or more correctly, his old man) recently picked up this virtually flawless, 52,000-mile C5 Z06 for just $19,000 – a full thirty grand less than it went for new. Yes, the world-class supercar we know as the Z06 has finally dropped into the econocar price bracket, and should the Corvette divinities see fit for the C6 versions to one day near this level of affordability, it will surely be the best of all possible worlds.

Such a good find naturally opens up some spare change for upgrades. The fact that this is a first-year Z06 means its 385-hp LS6 is slightly down on power compared to the ‘02-’04 model years (which received upgrades in the form of a bumpier cam and complementary lighter valves, improved airbox and MAF, and a less-restrictive catalytic converter setup, adding 20 hp to the advertised SAE figure). On the Dynojet at Heintz Racing (Mooresville, NC), a baseline pull resulted in 330.5 hp and 329 lb-ft, which equates to roughly 389 horsepower at the flywheel if you assume 15% drivetrain loss - about right, considering this car already had an aftermarket air filter. According to the Heintz crew (full-service specialists in late-model GM, Ford, and Chryslers), later C5 Z06’s normally put about 345 ponies to the tires…. could this deficiency be made up by simple swaps of an intake and cat-back?

It sure can. Beyond our dyno-proven increases, real-world performance shot up as well. Before-and-after HPDE track events at Virginia International Raceway proved the added underhood potency, as 140 mph was easily eclipsed on the back straight (the car was just able to touch that figure before). In addition, your Bondurant-trained author felt no discernible difference in handling due to the added mass of exhaust hanging behind the rear axle.