A Chevy Corvette is the type of spitfire sports car that can outperform many more costly Sports cars and even some Super Cars —without any modifications. When the Mod bug bites you though there is only one thing to do. Mod away to your heart’s content. Be it a new set of wheels, a cold air intake, cat-back exhaust, or even a supercharger, Corvette performance modifications are the way to go for more smiles per gallon. You not only set yourself further from the mainstream “Stock” Vette’s, you also attain the status of a true Gear Head.
Here at Top Flight Automotive we speak fluid Corvette, and we carry all the performance mods you need, no matter if you have an early or late-model car. Our top-tier restoration products are engineered to meet or exceed the original specifications of your vehicle, so you can hit the pavement even better than before.
Types of Corvette Performance Modifications
Corvette performance opportunities are endless because there isn’t much you can’t upgrade — most of it is customizable. You can pick and choose which mods suit your application, model, personal style and budget. You may be in search of a small boost in engine power or a full overhaul, so it can reach its peak performance levels.
Types of performance mods include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Aerodynamic kits
- Air intakes
- Fuel pressure regulators
- Instrument panels
- Performance chips
- Power steering
- Programming and tunings
- Rear-end gears
- Throttle bodies
You can use many of the modifications discussed in this guide for several Corvette generations — the listed mods are not specific to each model, but are some of the most common.
Early Model Performance Modifications
Some Corvette enthusiasts like their sports cars to remain loyal to the glory days with original parts — either from a sense of nostalgia or respect for the Corvette’s evolution at the time. However, while many classics uphold incredible value as a piece of history, their components are nothing like we have today. Many people opt for performance mods to give their early Corvette model a boost.
C1 Corvette Performance Mods (1953-1962)
The C1 debuted in 1953 as the American automobile industry pushed to outperform their British counterparts. With its upgraded V8 small-block engine, the Corvette’s performance was up to par with the other sports cars of its generation, and General Motors continued to improve the car’s look and engine throughout the era. The sports car had slick features and a robust engine for its time, which led to its popularity among Americans.
Some first-gen owners may want to keep the C1’s original parts. If not, some Corvette upgrades to consider are:
1. Front End and Suspension
The first generation of Corvettes was a bit on the bumpy side when it came to the riding experience because of its single axle suspension. The rickety ride led to more short-lived travels instead of longer road trips.
If you’re looking for a smoother cruise down the road, you can modify the C1’s suspension, which will boost its drivability. Install modern shocks that are leagues above the 1950s and 1960s versions. The shocks will create a smoother ride by lessening the car’s bounce and sway. Investing in shock absorbers is your first step to better performance.
2. Disc Brakes
Corvette brakes on the C1 got the job done back in the day, but they didn’t do much when it came to reasonable stopping distances. Drum brakes where standard when the first-gen Corvette hit the roadway — but by the 1960s and 1970s, disc brakes became mainstream.
Disc brakes were more responsive and reduced stopping distances. Disc brakes also allow for much more precision by dissipating heat better, allowing the brakes to alleviate brake fade better than older versions. You can modify your C1 with a piston caliper conversion kit or a 4-wheel disc brake conversion kit to get the most out of your classic.
3. Power Steering
Power steering didn’t exist within the C1 Corvette model, which isn’t a negative feature, but upgrading the system can give you modern handling and driving abilities. With power steering, you can minimize the effort it takes to turn your steering wheel.
The hydraulic force of the system will be easier to cut your tires with minimal effort. It will also be easier to back up your Corvette instead of repositioning a dozen times. Several ways you can modify your C1 to power steering include a rack and pinion conversion kit and an electric power steering conversion kit.
C1 Corvette mods are a great way to upgrade your classic without straying too far from its original parts.
C2 Corvette Performance Mods (1963-1967)
In 1963, General Motors introduced the first line of Corvette Sting Rays. The second generation may have been short-lived, but it went through several massive performance growths. Compared to the C1, the C2 also sported a fresh look unseen before in the industry. The second-gen was known for its big-block engine and rear suspension. Some popular C2 performance mods include:
In 1963, the C2 featured a leaf spring rear suspension, which was an upgrade from the C1’s solid axle design. Even with its tremendous advancement, you can upgrade the second-gen Corvette’s suspension even further. A new suspension means better stability, enriched ride quality and enhanced cornering. For example, you can improve the C2’s suspension via a rear coilover or performance kit.
2. Electronic Ignition
During the second generation of Corvettes, General Motors used a points and condenser system, which is a conventional ignition setup. However, the ignition often comes with irregular voltages that can affect your engine.
Converting to an electrical ignition will require little to no maintenance on your part, unlike the older version. The new system runs via a magnetic field that’s controlled by the rotation of the distributor cam lobes. You also don’t have to worry about replacing corroded components.
Adjust your C2 with an ignitor conversion or distributor kit.
3. Instrument Panels
The second-gen Corvette uses mechanical gauges that can be inaccurate and leave you unaware of what’s happening inside the engine. For example, overheating can lead to a blown head gasket, and low oil pressure can cause a seized engine.
When you modify the instrument panel to a more modern version, you can see the condition of your engine in real time. The electronic instrument panels deliver reliable gauges, so invest in an instrument gauge kit or new instrument panel.
Many C2 Corvette performance mods can work for first-generation Corvettes as well.
C3 Corvette Performance Mods (1968-1982)
The third generation of Chevy Corvettes was the longest-reigning production run. The Stingray name came back as one word as consumers got to experience a new interior and sleek body panels. The C3 had an LT1 V8 small-block engine. If you own a C3 classic, you’re in luck to upgrade its performance parts — some options are:
1. Front Air Dams
Also called front spoilers, front air dams keep your engine running cool and help with aerodynamics. The purpose of modifying your air dams is to decrease the front-end drag of your Corvette. In turn, less drag helps with boosted traction control, better handling and improved MPG. Front air dams are a simple and economical installation.
2. Cylinder Heads
One of the best mods you can make to a C3 Corvette is upgrading your cylinder heads. Cylinders are one of several components that determine the total power output of your engine. Cylinder heads often have larger valves to maximize the engine’s airflow. A new part will increase the amount of airflow that goes through the intake valve. Then, the combustion chamber can better optimize the flow of the air-fuel mixture in the cylinders for increased power.
3. Intake Manifolds
Installing new intake manifolds is your third mod option for your C3 Corvette. You can choose between a single or dual-plane component. The single version is best if you’re looking for higher RPM horsepower, while the dual is ideal for enhanced torque. Consider many factors before choosing, such as type of camshaft, engine compression and more.
Third-generation Corvettes were an impressive model that brought about a newfound obsession among enthusiasts. But when you’re ready for more kick in your engine, these C3 Corvette mods should be your go-to.
C4 Corvette Performance Mods (1984-1996)
The redeveloped C4 design emerged in 1984 after the 1983 model wasn’t ready in time. Compared to the C3, the fourth-generation underwent a complete innovation, except it had the same engine. The aerodynamics of the machine offered exceptional performance for its time.
The C4 Corvette also had increased handling, reduced drag coefficient and more efficiency. But today, you can make it even better with Corvette performance parts, such as:
Installing new seat headers is the first step of several to minimize the back-pressure in your C4’s exhaust system. The components will help expel excess combustion gases from the cylinders more efficiently. If you stick with the Corvette’s stock exhaust valve, much of it is inhibited and inefficient. Installing new C4 headers or a header kit will maximize the engine’s exhaust expulsion.
2. Fuel Pressure Regulator
A fuel pressure regulator gives you control over your fourth-gen’s fuel delivery. It will help increase the engine’s performance levels because it delivers fuel at optimal pressures, which are also maintained under a range of situations. The regulator allows you to tune the engine’s fuel system for top performances. Modify your Corvette with a rail mount adjustable regulator or an adjustable fuel pressure regulator.
3. Performance Chips
Performance chips affect an engine by providing the management computer system with a different set of parameters. The chips can allow more fuel to enter the air-fuel mixture, giving the C4 an extra boost. In return, the increase of mixture can affect the C4’s horsepower, torque, fuel trim figures and timing advance, especially if you’ve already modified the exhaust, turbo and other components.
Invest in an OE performance chip, or buy a customized one if your fourth-generation Corvette has already gone through several upgrades. The right C4 Corvette mods for your car depend on the level of performance you want to reach on the road.
C5 Corvette Performance Mods (1997-2004)
The fifth generation of Chevy Corvettes was the beginning of the LS1 engine, then the debut of the LS2 in 2002. Corvettes have gotten better through each new generation, which is why many late-model owners want to ramp up their old-timers. The best C5 Corvette mods will give you extra performance your Corvette may be lacking — these include:
You can often use a turbocharger in conjunction with a supercharger. A turbo is powered by a turbine, which is moved via the exhaust gas. If acceleration is one of your priorities, then a turbocharger is what you want to focus on for your fifth-gen Corvette. A turbo skyrockets your car’s rear-wheel horsepower by forcing extra air into the engine’s combustion chamber, which upsizes its power and efficiency.
The engine can now force more air and fuel into the chamber to create improved power. Turbos are more efficient but also demand longer lead times. Installing a turbocharger modification to a C5 can upturn the original output of the LS engine.
2. Wheels and Tires
Investing in wider Corvette wheels will increase the surface area, allowing the tires to have more contact with the road. In return, your fifth-generation Corvette will experience boosted performance, acceleration and braking. Other benefits of the modification include advanced handling, better deceleration, an upgrade in traction and an increase in turn-in accuracy.
Before buying a fresh set of wheels, consider all the factors of upsizing. For example, wider tires can add more weight to the C5. Think about wheel size, type of tire, its durability and the type of material. You want to make sure the new tires will give your Corvette higher performance, not drag you down.
3. Rear End Gears
Changing the rear-end gears on your C5 Corvette allows the sports car to launch off faster than before. The mod will also help you achieve a more forceful low-end acceleration. But before installing OEM gears, you need to understand gear ratios.
When the C5s first came out, the automatic and manual transmissions had different gear ratios. The rate you calculate will determine how aggressive you want the Corvette to move. For example, when you multiply the transmission ratio with that of the drive axle, you receive a final drive ratio.
The ratio of the rear-end gears is the relationship between the pinion and ring gear. When coming up with the ideal rear-end gear ratio, think about the size of your Corvette’s tires. The fifth-generation Corvette had an impressive engine and incredible horsepower for its time. But who says a few C5 Corvette mods won’t make it even more exciting to drive?
Late Model Performance Modifications
Late-model Corvettes aren’t too far off from the sports car industry of 2020. General Motors continued the Corvette’s legacy with improvements for the car in both aesthetics and performance. Similar to the early mods, you can often install different late-model upgrades to each generation.
C6 Corvette Performance Mods (2005-2013)
Right off the production line in 2005, the C6 was a massive hit among Corvette enthusiasts. The sixth-generation had an upgraded suspension, extended wheelbase and a more powerful LS2 engine. It was a total upgrade from the C5 on every level. The LS3 engine also hit the market during this time.
The C6 is one of the generations most known for available modifications. If you want to maximize your Corvette’s performance ranks, the best C6 Corvette mods are:
C6 Corvette exhaust upgrades are among the most popular types of modifications. When you advance the exhaust system on your Corvette, your sports car can reach its maximum performance levels. The new system will expel the exhaust more efficiently and reduce back-pressure.
If your C6 has an L2 engine, it will be particularly responsive to an exhaust mod because of its large intake valves and wide cylinder bore diameter. Together, the valves and bore create high volumes of exhaust to boost engine performance.
Corvette superchargers are also among the most popular Corvette modifications, especially with the sixth-gen model. Compared to a turbo, a supercharger is mechanically driven. It can bring your C6 Corvette to a level of power that makes you take a step back in excitement. A supercharger increases the amount of air induction in the engine, which, in turn, allows higher fuel inputs and maximizes efficiency.
With more air and fuel comes more power. A supercharger can add a range of Corvette horsepower levels that your C6 has never experienced before. However, instead of a DIY installation for this Corvette modification, you may want to rely on the professionals unless you have experience.
3. Programming and Tuning
Installing a programmer into your C6 can help you squeeze out as much horsepower as possible. A programmer allows you to tune the Corvette’s engine control unit (ECU) in terms of efficiency and performance. You can download custom programs and tune the car how you want. The ECU calibrates the air-to-fuel ratio injected into the cylinders.
When you make mods to the programming system, you can change different variables. Consider Corvette tuning to refine the car’s calibration. Each tune relates to something different, like the throttle response, ignition timing, idle control and shift points.
Sixth-generation upgrades are at your disposal, whether you want to experience a massive leap in horsepower or control over your ECU.
C7 Corvette Performance Mods (2014-2019)
The Stingray name made yet another comeback in 2014 as the modern Corvette made a debut that was unforeseeable in the sports car industry. The C7 hit the asphalt with performance, elegance and cohesiveness with a new LT1 engine with 450 HP. If that isn’t enough power for you, these seventh-generation mods are always and option:
1. Cold Air Intake
Modifying your C7 with Corvette air intakes is an economical solution to boost your sports car’s performance. The simple addition will increase the amount of cool air forced through the intake valve. Compared to warm air, colder air introduces more oxygen during the combustion process. As a result, you will see performance and horsepower gains.
2. Throttle Body
An upgraded throttle body will get rid of any restriction in the induction tract, which increases performance and pulls out any remaining horsepower from the engine. A modified throttle body will also increase the throttle response of your C7 Corvette. Any type of upgrade that allows more airflow into your engine will upsurge the car’s throttle response and torque.
The exhaust is a component you can almost always upgrade on a Corvette. The exhaust system of the C7 is leagues above what you saw in the earlier generations, but there is still room for improvement. Consider installing long tube headers to expel exhaust gases from the engine to max out your car’s performance.
Even when you pair an exhaust modification with a tune-up, you will see impressive results.
While the C7 Corvette isn’t far off from the 2020 C8 sports car, seventh-generation upgrades can take your Corvette to a whole new level.
Top 3 Picks for All Corvette Owners
The best modifications you can make to various Corvette models depends on what you’re looking for. However, three that can boost the performance of Corvettes across the board include:
- Aerodynamic kits: Corvette aero kits make your sports car more aerodynamic. The mod gives you a sleek finish and the opportunity to seize power under your hood. It can help any Corvette generation hit higher speeds — even those that have a lower horsepower.
- Programming and tuning systems: Relying on a programming and tuning system allows you to customize your ride to your exact specifications. You have the freedom to tune particular parts of the Corvette, which can bolster an incredible amount of power.
- Superchargers: Superchargers are one of the best ways to gain speed, whether you have a C4 or C7 Corvette.
Start Modifying Your Corvette With OEM Parts
Top Flight Automotive has an extensive range of Corvette performance upgrades for each sports car generation. We pride ourselves in having the largest product portfolio for Corvettes, as well as upholding a high level of knowledge and expertise in the industry.
As you’re modifying your Corvette, check out our Chevy Corvette performance upgrades to boost your classic to the next level. The best part about mods is that you can tailor them to your own specifications. Reach out to our experienced sales reps for more information and support.