If you’re unfamiliar with our 2014 Camaro True SStreet project, let us get you up to speed. We started the project after we picked up a theft recovery vehicle at an auction. The car had been partially stripped and would require a ton of work to make it stock-like. However, it was perfect to use as the foundation for a street/strip weekend warrior.
Honestly, who wouldn’t want a car that could be driven to the local track, turn 8- to 9- second runs then drive back home? The key to making this ambitious goal a reality would rest in the powerplant. We needed something aggressive enough to blast down the quarter-mile at a decent clip, but also mild-mannered enough to drive through downtown.
One of the greatest benefits of being a starving writer for a car magazine is the wealth of technical resources we have contact with. It isn’t important to know everything, but it is essential to know who to ask about anything. In that aspect, we are rich beyond imagination. We gathered our crew of editors to field ideas on how we hit could the target with this build.
Initially, we planned to use a Chevrolet Performance LSX crate engine the GM engineers spec’d specifically for the rigors of extreme performance. The LSX376-B15 (PN 19299306) was designed for supercharged and turbocharged engine combinations. We also planned on topping the crate engine with a W275AX Whipple supercharger to reach our horsepower goal.
As things typically happen, our initial plans changed as we discovered more information and lived through different experiences. Case in point, our involvement in the Horsepower Wars LS VS. Coyote 2: Supercharged Showdown. This challenge paved the way for a different engine platform to be utilized in our True SStreet Project car. The Late Model Engine (LME) built 427 LS used in the showdown was equipped with a large F-1X ProCharger supercharger and we were impressed with the “big-cube” LS engine. There’s no replacement for displacement. You can view the Horsepower Wars LS VS. Coyote 2: Supercharged Showdown by clicking here.
Going With The Whipple
Since we decided to use the LME-built engine and we were committed to the Whipple supercharger for our 2014 Camaro, we swapped to the Whipple to reimagine this build. As a reminder, the LME LS engine was the clear winner in the Supercharger Showdown. The ease in which it won, convinced us to pick this platform for our street/strip warrior. However, during the post-event dyno testing, the engine stretched the factory head bolts, blew a head gasket, and did some minor damage to the internals.
We quickly performed the needed repair work, strapped on the Whipple supercharger, hung a Hughes Performance Powerglide behind the LSX package, and set it in the engine bay. The engine upgrades and rebuild are documented here. The Hughes Performance Powerglide and torque converter combination custom-ordered for this project can be read in detail right here.
The Hughes Solution
Powerglides are popular in many drag racing classes, especially those designed for budget racing. GM’s vintage two-speed automatic transmissions have a solid reputation for durability and simplicity. Parts are very affordable, even purpose-built aftermarket race parts for this slushbox. It’s the perfect solution for many drag racers.
Hughes’ torque converters are where the biggest bang for the buck lives. Paired with the dependable Powerglide, Hughes’ custom-made 9.8-inch Pro Series Heads-Up Radial Tire torque converter fit the bill. The key to this torque converter is its design. What makes it special is the unique impeller and stator design that contribute to maximum acceleration potential without overpowering tires in the radial, True 10.5, 8.5-inch classes. It does all this with very little slippage – as little as 1.5 percent during a quarter-mile run.
Some Fitment Accessories
If this all sounds like a simple drop-in-and-go operation for our 2014 Camaro, it pretty much is. While an LS in a 2014 Camaro is not a “swap”, we did need to address the use of OE mounts and other “stock components. Companies like BMR suspension, Strange Engineering, and Energy Suspension make the upgrade parts needed, and in our case, we needed some special engine mounts, a transmission mount, and a driveshaft to fit everything into the car. Add a Hurst shifter and shift cable, and it is practically race time.
BMR Suspension’s MM300 Motor Mount Kit (with polyurethane bushings) simplified the engine mounting process in our 2014 Camaro while adding serious performance support. BMR’s Jonathan Cutler told us, “Poly bushings allow a decent balance between performance, durability, and comfort. They offer control and help maintain traction while still providing a smoother ride overall.” BMR’s mount kit with polyurethane bushings provides a great compromise that delivers performance without making a street car’s ride unbearable.
BMR’s mounts are formed from 1/4-inch, laser-cut steel plate coupled with 95-durometer polyurethane bushings to provide strength and rigidity. The stiffer poly bushings do a great job of decreasing engine movement, which allows the engine to respond quicker than with the factory rubber bushings. The metal portions are available in black hammertone or red powdercoat, and are proudly made in the U.S.A.
A Strange Driveshaft
Strange Engineering is a familiar name in the high-performance automotive marketplace for rearend and suspension components. It makes perfect sense for the company to offer a hardcore driveshaft to match the strength of the rest of the drivetrain. “The driveline is only as strong as the weakest link,” says Strange Engineering’s J.C. Cascio. “Our chromoly driveshafts are stronger, able to withstand more torque, and have more stability at high RPM.
We custom ordered one of Strange’s 3 1/2-inch driveshafts with forged 1350 weld ends and Spicer U-joints (PN: U1704) for our 2014 Camaro. We plan to put some serious RPM on the drivetrain, so Cascio recommended matching 1350-series transmission and rearend yoke to ensure safe operation.
The driveshaft itself is made from seamless, heat-treated chromoly tubing with an 0.083-inch-thick wall in either 3- or 3 1/2-inch outside diameter. The driveshaft ends are welded in special fixtures, ensuring proper phasing to eliminate driveline vibration. Every shaft is electronically balanced with a total run-out of less than 0.008-inch.
A transmission yoke is required for balancing. Strange has yokes available for purchase, or customers can send in their existing yoke. We opted to go with the Strange 32 spline 1350 U-joint slip yoke. This unit is machined with strength in critical areas for high-performance applications.
Hurst Pistol Grip Shifter
When you are shifting to a retro “feel” in a modern Camaro build, is there a name more worthy of that honor than Hurst? Not in our opinion. Camaro and Hurst have been a matched combination since 1967 when the nameplate first hit the streets. But now, the precision of the shifter matches the improved shifting ability of modern transmissions. Technology improvements in both are helping racers more than ever before.
Let’s face it, memories of the old factory shifting mechanism topped with the Hurst T-handle are better than the actual experience. “Back in the day,” most of us would leave the factory shifter in the car and add an aftermarket Hurst shifter handle to make people think we had the real deal. What we really had was a sloppy shifter that was uncomfortable.
Fortunately, Hurst continues to make great shifters, and now, automotive enthusiasts are educated enough to know the difference. In the case of the Hurst Pistol Grip Quarter Stick (PN: 3162002), you get the best of both worlds, street and strip. Positive gear change control works for every application and that is the key function of this shifter.
In addition to providing positive gear changes, the unit is compact, so it fits in any car — no matter how limited the space. As a bonus, it is very lightweight (2.5 pounds) for those who put their builds on a diet. Features include black-oxide-coated steel construction, a hardened-steel gate plate, ergonomic billet aluminum shift handle that incorporates a momentary switch used to activate a Roll Control, trans-brake, or nitrous system.
Shifter Compatibility And Shifter Cover
The Hurst Pistol Grip Quarter Stick also comes with a factory-installed neutral safety switch, chrome-plated trigger, and spring-loaded reverse lock-out mechanism that complies with NHRA/IHRA safety rules. It includes all necessary hardware, a 5-foot long shifter cable, and installation instructions. The only drawback to this unit is that it may not work with the very early GM cast iron Powerglide transmissions.
These cast-iron units were built from the early 1950s into 1963. Aluminum case Powerglides superseded the cast-iron case versions starting in 1962. If you have any doubt about the compatibility of a particular Powerglide and the Hurst Pistol Grip Quarter Stick shifter, contact the company’s tech line at 866-464-6553.
To wrap up this part of the installation in our 2014 Camaro, we picked Hurst’s black anodized Quarter Stick aluminum shifter cover (PN: 1300051). Although you could run without a shifter cover to show off the shifting mechanism in full glory, putting on Hurst’s shifter cover cleans up the interior and adds a professional look to your installation. Plus, it is a cinch to install with quick-release pins and spacers.
Seriously, putting in the shifter and not putting the shifter cover on the unit is like leaving the job unfinished. Do yourself a favor and button it up so your friends don’t make fun of you.
Wrapping It Up
Before we moved on to the next major steps in getting our beast to the streets, we had a couple more neat tricks up our sleeves. An Ace or two up your sleeve is a good thing to have when you hit the automotive poker table. These two tricks combined some serious weight savings with hardcore power. Of course, we are talking about a lightweight Meziere starter (PN: SS210) and a Performance Distributors’ Dyna-Batt dry-cell battery (PN: 5575A).
When it comes to weight, batteries can really pack on the pounds. Most wet-cell batteries can be compared to a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal for adding weight. The Dyna-Batt offers a healthier option. Performance Distributors’ Steve Davis told us, “you can lighten up your hot rod or race car by removing the heavy 40-pound battery and replacing it with Performance Distributors 13 1/2-pound Dyna-Batt.”
If you were to compare power-for-pound ratings for batteries as professional boxing does with its pound-for-pound rankings, Dyna-Batt would top the list. “The Dyna-Batt produces more power per pound than any battery on the market,” says Davis. “It has the cranking power of wet-cell batteries three times its size.”
Davis explained the Dyna-Batt accomplishes this by having an extremely low internal resistance which allows faster, more consistent starting. The Dyna-Batt has been tested to crank engines with compression ratios as high as 15:1. The reserve capacity of the Dyna-Batt is 16 Amp Hours. It is built with corrosion-resistant terminals and is truly a maintenance-free battery.
There are a couple of areas where two parts that mesh together can cause aggravating problems. One of the first that pops into most mechanics’ minds is the flywheel/starter combination. The tolerances are so close with these two dynamic components that car builders can cause their own problems with poor choices. Looking for extreme weight savings and picking mismatched parts can stop the show before it even begins.
For us, it was a no-brainer. We had already installed a trick Meziere flexplate in our 2014 Camaro, so we just added a Meziere starter to complete the package. Two parts that were designed, manufactured, and tested to work together would certainly eliminate any potential headache for us. Starter failure at the line is one of the most humiliating setbacks that can happen to a race team.
Torque and spin speed is crucial for a starter. These two items are impacted dramatically by the compression ratio of an engine. What Meziere has done with its 100 series starters is create a unit that has the right torque and spin speed for LS engines with moderate compression ratios. The 100 series is a standard spur-gear reduction system, and a great choice for engines up to 420 cubic inches with a compression ratio up to 12:1.
While we are getting closer to debuting our 2014 Camaro, True SStreet, on the surface streets and local drag strips, we still have a couple more surprises in store. Check back often for more exciting add-ins to our modern-day street/strip warrior with a retro twist. If you need to catch up with the project, you can Check out the project’s build page here.