Are you prepared to handle as much as 1200 horsepower from the C8 Corvette?

The mid-engined 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 has yet to arrive in dealerships, but Hennessey is already staking claim to an aftermarket program that could provide the Corvette C8 with as much as 1,200 horsepower. Company founder John Hennessey dropped the bombshell, saying that the program would bring a lot to the table in terms of aerodynamic enhancements, new wheels, and, of course, engine upgrade programs with different states of tune.

The availability of Hennessey’s program will largely depend on the Corvette C8’s market launch. The eight-generation ‘Vette was supposed to arrive this year, but General Motors has pushed the start of production to early 2021 — around February or March — due to the UAW strike that lasted a month before ending in October 2019. If you’re dying to get a hold of this 1,200-horsepower, Hennessey-tuned Corvette C8, you might have to wait around a year for that opportunity.‘’

The Hennessey C8 Corvette is Offered in at Least Three States of Tune

2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette by Hennessey
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Nothing about such news comes as a shock to anyone. The relationship between Hennessey and the Chevrolet Corvette dates back to the Mesozoic era. OK, that’s not quite true, but the point is that when it comes to Corvette tuning, few do it better than Hennessey.

The tuner is responsible for some of the most powerful aftermarket Corvettes in the business, and it looks like that distinction won’t end anytime soon now that Hennessey has announced a slew of aftermarket upgrades for the Corvette C8.

The biggest and baddest of these upgrades? An engine upgrade program that dials up the output of the Corvette C8’s 6.2-liter LT2 V-8 engine to a whopping 1,200 horsepower.

2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette by Hennessey
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The 1,200-horsepower output looks to be the third and highest step in a three-phase tuning program that delivers different states of tune. According to Hennessey, the most basic engine upgrade program involves an exhaust system upgrade that results in a “slight power increase.” The tuner didn’t give a specific figure, but with the standard Corvette C8’s LT2 engine generating 495 horsepower, a boost to around 550 horsepower isn’t out of the cards.

That estimate would leave enough space for the second phase of Hennessey’s program.

This phase adds a supercharger kit into the equation and that results in a significant power boost that could hit around 700 horsepower.

A mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette with around 700 ponies on tap sounds mighty fine, but if you really want power in your hands, Hennessey’s top-level tuning kit is where it’s at.

2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette by Hennessey
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Needless to say, this engine upgrade program isn’t limited to just a new exhaust system and a new supercharger. If the goal is to generate around 1,200 horsepower, Hennessey will need to rebuild the Corvette C8’s LT2 V-8 engine with upgraded internals and a pair of turbochargers thrown in for good measure. That’s the recipe behind the power boost to 1,200 horsepower, but the program doesn’t just end there, either. Hennessey will also provide an upgraded eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission that can course all that power to the two rear wheels. An adjustable suspension setup will also be offered for obvious reasons; the suspension has to hold its own relative to the more than two-fold increase in power.

Expect Some Raunchy Performance Times

2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette by Hennessey
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Hennessey didn’t announce performance times because, well, no tests have been conducted to determine how fast the 1,200-horsepower Corvette can sprint from 0 to 60 mph.

We do know that the base Corvette C8 can do the deed in just three seconds while the Corvette C8 carrying the Z51 optional package can do it in 2.9 seconds.

It is worth noting, too, that Car and Driver clocked a time of 2.8 seconds with the Corvette Z51. Knowing these numbers should give us an idea of what to expect when Hennessey offers its spate of tuning programs for the ‘Vette C8.

2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette by Hennessey
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The first phase tuning program, for example, could help the Corvette C8 accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds. That time isn’t out of reach. The second phase tuning program with the supercharger element and the 700-horsepower net output could accomplish the task in around 2.5 seconds. Again, that figure isn’t ambitious or conservative. It feels just right relative to the content of the entire tuning kit.

The tricky prediction involves the high-mark engine upgrade program that includes the rebuilt LT2 V-8 engine. When you have a car that can produce 1,200 horsepower and all that power transfers to the rear wheels, It’s all going to boil down to traction.

If the 1200-horsepower C8 Corvette can get the traction, it could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in around two seconds, maybe even less.

There are no two ways about it. This version of the Corvette C8 is going to be quick.

More Than Just an Engine Upgrade

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Like most Hennessey tuning kits, the ones prepared by the tuner don’t just come with upgrades to the engine. We already saw a glimpse of that with the exhaust system upgrade. But that’s not all there is to it.

The programs also include extensive modifications to the exterior courtesy of a CarbonAero body kit.

The photo rendering that Hennessey revealed shows the extent of the aero kit on the body of the Corvette C8. From the car’s front-quarter angle, you can make out the reworked front end that includes a massive carbon fiber front spoiler. The ‘Vette C8’s sharp nose remains, but it’s now accentuated by a red-and-blue racing stripe running the length of the slowing hood and extending all the way to the roof. Carbon fiber air dams on the side of the Corvette are also visible, as is the roof exhaust on the, well, roof. You can’t forget about the rear carbon fiber wing sitting oh-so-ominously at the back.

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From an aesthetic point of view, the Hennessy-tuned Corvette C8 looks like a proper race car minus all the racing decals and garnishing.

From an aerodynamic point of view, there are enough upgrades in the body of the sports car that should make the most of the amount of extra power its LT2 V-8 engine is going to receive.

The Corvette C8’s Electronic System is, Apparently, Not Tamper-Proof

2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette by Hennessey
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There were reports that Chevrolet installed a tamper-proof ECM in the Corvette C8, to prevent tuners and other modders from making their own software enhancements. That meant that the mid-engine sports car would be untunable. But just because that may be the case, that doesn’t mean that tuners like Hennessey can’t find a loophole somewhere in the Corvette C8’s circuitry. Mind you, a similar system was put in place for the Corvette C7 ZR1 that Hennessey and a host of other tuners managed to go around.

The fact that Hennessey is already announcing its aftermarket program for the Corvette C8 suggests that the tuner has already cracked whatever code the C8’s electronics has - if it has one to begin with.

In any case, we can’t wait for the Chevrolet Corvette C8 to arrive, and we certainly can’t wait what Hennessey’s aftermarket programs for the mid-engine sports car — the first in Corvette history — is capable of unleashing once it hits the open road. A 1,200-horsepower twin-turbocharged LT2 V-8 engine sounds nice, but until we see how that monumental power increase translates on the road, all we have is speculation and a lot of sleepless nights imagining what the Corvette C8 can turn into.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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