Lately, it seems like we are living in an alternate universe where factory vehicles are cranking out 700-plus horsepower with a warranty. As if that isn’t strange enough, if you’re not shooting to make 1,000 horsepower with your project car, it becomes a laughable offense. In all honesty, 2,000 is the new 1,000 when we’re talking about power numbers these days. And with the advancement in turbochargers and superchargers, this task has become easier than ever.
It didn’t take Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE) long to catch on to this horsepower trend. The company has built its reputation on high-performance vehicles that are not only incredibly powerful but dependable, as well. But we have to admit that the company’s latest offering has dropped our jaws like a kid in the world’s largest toy store.
Lingenfelter Performance Engineering was founded over 47 years ago and is recognized for its performance. It develops, tests, and manufactures a slew of engine parts, electronics, and fuel systems, which ultimately wind up in the individual vehicles the company sells. And with high-powered cars in its arsenal, like the Cadillac CTS-V, Camaro ZL1, and Corvette C7 Z06, you might be wondering what car is next for the dynamic group.
It turns out it’s not a car at all. Instead, it’s a truck. You’re probably thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s right; they do have some pretty cool trucks.” And you would be correct, Lingenfelter does have some awesome vehicles other than the two-door sporty ones. Recently, we covered one of its new 2015-19 supercharged Escalade/Denali packages that produce an impressive 700 horsepower. While 700 is a good amount of power, remember that 1,000 is the magic number these days.
If you haven’t caught on yet, allow us to fill in the blanks for you: Lingenfelter recently showcased GMC Sierra truck that cranks out quadruple digits. Before we get into what the 2018 GMC actually made, let’s take a look at the build.
As you know, the C8 Corvette is coming out, and the engine bay just begs to have turbochargers installed. We were looking for an avenue to explore the latest in turbo technology and test the waters. That’s how the GMC came about. – Mark Rapson
Lingenfelter is, of late,known for the use of superchargers on its high horsepower vehicles. What you may not know is that once upon a time, the company preferred turbos over the superchargers. As technology switched gears between the two forced induction rivals, the supercharger became the preferred method for force-feeding an engine. However, once again, the tide has begun to turn. Turbos are now being put to use at Lingenfelter’s headquarters, and the results are nothing short of staggering.
We spoke to Mark Rapson, COO/VP of Operations at Lingenfelter Performance, on how this transition came back around. Mark said, “With the evolution of supercharger technology, specifically Eaton’s TVS unit, it’s caused us to focus on superchargers for the last eight years. Recently the OEM’s have gotten more interested in turbochargers. This interest has allowed the turbo technology to evolve, which in return makes the aftermarket industry get involved. It’s for this reason that we have revived our interest in using turbochargers.”
While this may be one reason Lingenfelter started looking at turbochargers again, it’s not the only motivation. Mark explains, “As you know, the C8 Corvette is coming out, and the engine bay just begs to have turbochargers installed. We were looking for an avenue to explore the latest in turbo technology and test the waters. That’s how the GMC came about.”
There was one more factor that influenced this project, as well. It’s no surprise to anyone that trucks in today’s market are a hot commodity. Lingenfelter knew that going into this program and intends to expand its activity on trucks. Mark said, “We just did a supercharger on the Colorado, and we are working on the 2019 GM T1 platform.” The T1 platform is also known as GMT-T1 or T1XX, which is General Motors vehicle architecture designed for pickup trucks and body-on-frame SUVs. Mark continued, ” We have also put the TVS 2650 on Tahoes and Denalis, and we’re just now starting to promote that heavily for 2020. Trucks are going to play a big part in what we do for 2020, and turbochargers were just another avenue for performance.”
If you have ever had the pleasure of looking over a Lingenfelter-built car, you couldn’t help but notice the attention to detail. Even with all of the added components to make the desired power lever, Lingenfelter’s performance integration is second to none. Even with all of the added modifications, its cars have a factory look. In most cases a supercharger is easy to adapt to the engine of a vehicle. A turbo system installation is not nearly as clear-cut, especially when you try to achieve an OEM look. You have more components to deal with than a supercharger and twice as many parts when it’s a twin-turbo system. Mark said, “Everyone can make significant power. For us, the integration and quality of the components and drivability are just as important as the power level.”
Needless to say, the crew at LPE were able to figure out the best routing and placement for the twin-turbo system.
For this project, Lingenfelter teamed up with Armageddon Turbo Systems for the kit, because of the high-quality engineering and components they use, then they put the LPE twist on it. The idea was to take the turbo system and seamlessly mate it with the engine and all of the products that Lingenfelter makes for Chevrolet’s direct-injection (DI) platform. The team used its DI fuel pump and injectors to fix a common problem of fueling for these boosted applications. Mark explains, “We were looking for a turbocharger kit that makes the big numbers like our supercharger systems. The kit needed to be 100-percent integrated into the vehicle without the use of supplemental fuel systems or water-meth injection. We wanted to utilize regular fueling like on our other high-horsepower combinations.”
LPE started with a turbo system that was already on the market and of good quality. Since Armageddon had a kit for the truck, it allowed the team to look at some pre-engineered parts that could then be evaluated. Mark said, “We wanted to start with some turbo components that had a good baseline in case we needed to re-engineer some of them.”
Making a lot of power is relatively easy if you have the right parts for the job. For the engine in the Sierra, Lingenfelter starts with the factory 6.2-liter LT powerplant. They tear it down and remove the factory internals, replacing them with a Manley rotating assembly that includes a crank, rods, and pistons. The factory camshaft is also replaced with an LPE Gt31 8.2mm fuel pump lobe camshaft. Lingenfelter then ports the LT1 heads by reworking combustion chambers to lower compression, which is all performed in house. The heads will then receive Lingenfelter dual valve springs and Manley exhaust valves before they are ready to be reinstalled on the LT short block.
With the engine all buttoned up and ready to dish out quadruple digits, Lingenfelter then turns its attention to the forced induction side of things. It starts with an Armageddon twin-turbo system, which has been tailored to LPE’s specifications. The turbo headers, custom-coated with Lingefnelter’s heat mitigation coating in the color titanium, connect to twin Garrett GTX3576R GEN 2 turbochargers to get the party started. The compressed air is diverted to the throttle body after it passes through a large air-to-air intercooler. LPE ceramic plug wires are installed to withstand all of the added heat from the headers, along with a set of high flow catalytic converters. If you’re planning on running big boost and, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t, exhaust cutouts are also part of this mega-horsepower package.
You can’t make significant power without a stable, high-performance fuel system, especially when running E85. The LPE camshaft is specifically designed with a larger pump lobe that will allow for additional fuelling needed for this high-horsepower terror. Twin 525 lph fuel pumps are also installed in the factory fuel tank. One of the pumps is only activated when the engine sees 6-pounds of boost or more. The long block is topped off with the factory intake manifold, LPE Big Bore direct injection fuel pump, and LPE DI injectors. Monstrous -10AN feed lines connect to the fuel rails on the intake, while a Weldon fuel pressure regulator meters the fuel pressure. Another important part of the LPE fuel system is the low side check-valve. This LPE-designed valve eliminates the flow restriction caused by the factory unit. While it is possible to run without the check-valve, this situation can cause low-side reverberations in the fuel flow. Lingenfelter’s check valve eliminates that problem.
The power is a little bit slower coming in than a positive displacement supercharger, but once the turbos start to spool, they’re angry. – Mark Rapson
With the twin-turbo system on the truck and the fueling system lined out, LPE was able to produce an impressive 800 horsepower with only 11-pounds of boost on pump gas. When switched to E85, the crew recorded 988 wheel horsepower on E85 on only 15-pounds of boost. When we account for the 15-percent drivetrain loss commonly associated with all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems, the LPE combination is good for 1,136.2 horsepower at the flywheel on what some would consider low boost, which supports the pre-installation engine dyno number of 1,170 horsepower on 13-pounds boost. According to LPE, the engine is easily capable of handling 25-plus pounds of boost, as is its fuel system. While there is a lot more power left on the table, the crew is currently limited by the transmission.
With all of this newfound power, one might be curious if the truck lacks drivability. Marks said, “The drivability of this truck is fantastic. Since turbos usually don’t have the low-end torque of a supercharger, they are very street-friendly, as they come into the powerband smoothly. The power is a little bit slower coming in than a positive displacement supercharger, but once the turbos start to spool, they’re angry.”
If it’s one thing we love when it comes to boost, it’s ‘angry.’