Transformation Complete: A ZR1 C6 Built on Cartoons and Laughing Gas

Transformations are not just something physical, for they can be mental and emotional as well. Real estate investor, Ala Awadallah, gets it. His 2009 Chevy Corvette ZR1, isn’t just a four-digit horsepower, pavement pounder. It’s both a way for him to move, and a way for him to move on. Something that has allowed him to transform his style, and move on from a build gone bad.

Nicknamed “Galvatron” by its owner, this seemingly bone stock 2009 Corvette ZR1 packs way more power than you might expect.

Photo Credit: Lethal Shutter Productions LLC

We recently caught-up with Awadallah to learn more about this sleeper of his, and where his infatuation with automobiles originated. Eager to inform, he tells us that his passion for custom cars stems from an unlikely source: cartoons. Apparently, it was the original Transformers from the 1980s that first piqued his interest. With a bowl of sugary cereal in hand, and the animated images of cars transforming into robots on the television, watching Saturday morning cartoons weren’t just a weekly routine… It was a source of inspiration.

Life couldn’t have gotten any better for the young Ala Awadallah, or at least, so he thought. When he came of legal driving age, the aspiring speed freak found himself hanging out with the sort of people that prefer to mod things themselves and then haul ass around town. Car culture had officially sunk its claws in, and there was nothing Awadallah could do about it.

By the time he reached his 20s, Awadallah had evolved into a full-on hobbyist. Striving for more speed, he tirelessly tested, tweaked, and dreamed about the next go-fast mod, with the local drag strips serving as his dedicated playground. While a ’93 Civic hatchback with a boosted, fully-built B20 motor served its purpose at the time, the adrenaline junkie eventually outgrew the little Honda and set his gaze upon more prestigious possibilities.

In 2006, Awadallah had bought a 2000 BMW M roadster, a car that he attempted to leave stock, all the way up until a Rotrex supercharger made its way on board. 500 wheel horsepower (WHP) and 400 lb-ft of torque later, and it was time to move on to “Megatron,” a Porsche 997 Turbo with upgraded turbos, meth injection, and a whole lot more. Hitting 700whp, with the same amount of torque in something so lightweight, was unlike anything Awadallah had experienced, and so he set his sights on achieving quadruple-digit figures in the vehicle.

Ala Awadallah's last project, a Porsche 997 Turbo called "Megatron," ended life in a blaze, thus leaving ample room for a new project car.

But the fates would not allow such a monster, and on April of 2016, one of Megatron’s OEM fuel lines failed, causing a fire to erupt. The car had just been taken out of storage after a long winter’s nap, only to be engulfed in flames after being driven less than a block. Firefighters arrived on the scene, but only after Megatron’s ass had been burnt to a crisp. Disheartened, but not down for the count, Awadallah took this as a sign that it was time to take a break from building imports and focus on domestic vehicles for a change.

Less than a month after putting Megatron out to pasture, and “Galvatron” surfaced. With its low-mileage, minty-fresh physique, and unaltered ZR1 arsenal still intact, the 2009 C6 was too good to pass up. Awadallah tells us that when he took possession of the car, it had little more than a Lingenfelter snout intake and a slightly smaller upper pulley attached. It was at this point that good friend and mechanic, Matthew Wonneman, agreed to add a few bolt-ons, like some American Racing Headers 2-inch headers, and a Billy Boat Fusion 3 exhaust system with a catless X-pipe. He also ordered a set of HRE wheels and had Andrew from Complete Street Performance in West Chester, Pennsylvania give the vehicle a quick tune.

Around this time a simple, yet challenging goal was set in place: Build Galvatron to the 1,000-horsepower mark, but also make it as indestructible as possible. In order to achieve this 1-2 winning combo, the car was first made E85 compatible, and then outfitted with a secondary AEM fuel pump, all in the hopes of slaking the thirst of some 1300cc Bosch fuel injector. Galvatron also received an ATI Performance Products 14-percent overdrive lower pulley for increased boost, as well as a custom cam from Complete Street Performance and a hefty Prospeed intercooler.

Installation of a ProEFI ECU was up next, and by the time the car was properly tuned for 730whp, in February of 2017, Awadallah already had plans for the next big upgrade. Less than a few months later, and Galvatron’s heads were sent off to Texas Speed And Performance in order to have everything ported and refreshed with stronger hardware. While that was happening, Kong Performance took the car’s stock blower and snout, and upgraded them with a full round of race porting. A Synergy intake replaced the smaller Lingenfelter unit, and a Nick Williams Performance 102mm throttle body was also installed, which once combined with everything else gave Galvatron well over 800whp.

February of 2018 brought with it PRC 260cc heads, a GP Tuning Stage 4 ZR1 camshaft, a Kong Performance ZR1 intake and snout (currently the largest on the market), a 2.35-inch ZPE Griptech pulley, and a DC Power 270-amp alternator. This last upgrade was made to guarantee that there would be enough power for the car’s new ECU and electronics, as well as Galvatron’s freshly installed nitrous system from Nitrous Outlet.

Capitalizing upon Galvatron’s newfound ProEFI capabilities, the boys installed a 2-kit system, with Nitrous Outlet’s blower spray bar handling the 200-shot, and a secondary, 100 horsepower shot resting atop the engine’s throttle body plate. Wonneman also built a custom return-style fuel system with a dedicated third pump just for nitrous, which he plumbed directly into the C6’s OEM fuel tank. It was now only safe to spray when using E85, but this also made things simpler due to the car having just one tank and a single source of fuel.

Once the car was buttoned up, it was back to Complete Street Performance, for yet another round of tuning. This time around, the car made just over 900whp, all without the aid of nitrous. After some seat time with this setup, Galvatron and its master returned that May for a full nitrous tune, something Awadallah says he rarely needs, but likes to have available at all times.

Everything was peachy until the summer of 2018, when a 3rd-gear pull at 140mph resulted in a very loud “BANG!” Thinking that his motor was toast, Awadallah gingerly tapped the gas to see what, if anything, would happen. The motor free-reved loudly, telling him that Galvatron was out of gear, yet try as he might, Awadallah could not get the car to go back into gear. Luckily, the two had gathered enough momentum that they were able to coast a full mile to a park-and-ride, where the car sat until it was able to be towed to Wonneman’s shop.

Back in the lab, it became apparent that Galvatron’s torque tube shaft had been destroyed, and so a Drive Shaft Shop unit made entirely from solid aluminum was ordered, along with an OEM torque tube to replace the shredded unit. While Galvatron was down for the count, its master ordered a Prospeed dual fan shroud, which along with a billet blower belt tensioner from Kong Performance and a carbon fiber steering wheel, were the most recent parts to be installed on the car.

Powered by 18-pounds of boost, and tuned (again) by Andrew Zurick of Complete Street Performance, Galvatron reliably hits the 901-horsepower mark on E85, and 1067-horsepower with nitrous. Transmission modifications on the 6-speed are straightforward and include Monster Clutches‘ Triple LT1-S clutch and an MGW short shifter for sure-handed throws.

Galvatron’s rollers are a set of HRE Classics 303 forged wheels, which sit in a custom, 19 x 10.5-inch front, 18 x 12-inch rear configuration. The front two alloys are clothed in 285/35/19 Nitto Invo tires, while the rears receive 325/35/18 Mickey Thompson ET Street R rubber. Brakes are a carbon/ceramic OEM setup, and the body has been wrapped in 3M Satin Metallic Grey by New Edge Wraps of Calvert, MD. That’s pretty much it for mods though. Everything else on this car is bone stock. From sway bars and seats to headlights and harnesses, this C6 is about as unmolested as it gets, which is probably why it’s been so damn reliable.

That’s not to say that this build had its fair share of challenges. For instance, getting the ProEFI standalone system installed and working properly was an excruciating pain in the patella. Like most products that are new to the market, there was a lot of troubleshooting, trial and error, and foul language associated with its installation and adjustment thereafter. However, all of the bugs within the tuning system were eventually squashed, and Awadallah says that the standalone has worked flawlessly ever since.

When I asked the Transformer nerd what he likes most about this vehicle, he tells me that the car’s reliability continues to amaze. Balancing that much power with mechanical longevity is no easy task, yet Awadallah has managed to keep the car in one piece since its completion. Reliability revealed Awadallah mentions that the “power to price ratio” on this machine is also pretty  good. Considering that the guy’s previous project was a Porsche 997 Turbo, it is easy to see why the cost of owning and operating a modified C6 like Galvatron was so appealing.

This car is meant for having a good time on the street or at car meets. The idea is to get as much power to the ground… without sacrificing too much street-ability. – Awadallah

So what’s next for old Galvatron? Kong Performance has just released a TVS2650 blower, which rumor has it is already on the car, along with a 112mm throttle body. Once tuned, Awadallah hopes to make the same power that he did before, but without the assistance of nitrous. These recent mods will also cause the new blower to spin less, which will, in turn, generate less heat soak.

So while Galvatron may not be hitting the track any time soon, it sure doesn’t mind raising a little hell around town. “You definitely have to watch the throttle in the turns,” Awadallah admits. “With all the torque it makes now, it’s not hard at all to break loose.”

The automotive inspiration that originally sparked Awadallah’s interest resurfaces when you read his C6’s license plate. Those who are familiar with the 1986 Transformers flick, will recall that the villain, Megatron, was near death during one scene in the film, at which point he was reborn/reformatted as Galvatron. The license plate on Awadallah’s old Porsche read “MEG8TRN,” due in part to the car’s color scheme matching that of the sinister robotic sentinel. So when the vehicle was destroyed, and thereafter replaced by a Corvette rocking a Galvatron color scheme, it only made sense that the C6’s tag would read “GLVTRON.”

Transformation complete, and mechanized evil officially on the loose, there is only one thing left to say: “Decepticons, transform and rise up!”

About the author

Micah Wright

Raised on LEGOs by grandfathers who insisted on fixing everything themselves, Micah has been a petrolhead in training since age four. His favorite past times include craft beer, strong cigars, fast cars, and culinary creativity in all of its forms.
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