Marriage and children. Both are wonderful life experiences, filled with unparalleled rewards, but with those rewards comes personal sacrifice. For car guys, this usually means the sale of a hot car and the subsequent purchase of something decidedly less sporty and much more practical. Fortunately, a few lucky individuals have figured out how to have their cake and eat it too. Michael Turner discovered that working as sales manager of The Horsepower Store afforded him just such an angle to hold onto his 1999 SS Camaro. Using the SS as his daily commuter, Michael can show customers an example of the Horsepower Store's handiwork up close, as well as many of the products they sell at their Plano, Texas location. He has found that customers keep returning, because his knowledge of the product goes beyond a simple sales pitch.
Cars have played a significant role in Michael's life for the last 12 years. From the Dallas street scene, to imports and car audio, to his current position, Michael has experience in a wide variety of automotive realms. Inspiration for his current ride can be found in his previous ownership of two black second-gen Camaros. "I've got a thing for Black Camaros," says Turner. Michael was also very specific about the options he wanted on his car. "I bought this car when it was a year old. It had just what I wanted--it was a hardtop, cloth interior, 6-speed car. I didn't want any frills and it took me six months to find it," he says. Once he found the perfect car, it didn't take long for him to start making changes.
Modifying cars can be a very expensive pastime and strain even the strongest relationships. Even with a job in the automotive industry, Michael still has a wife and two kids at home. This keeps him looking for economical ways to enhance the performance of his SS, without annihilating his family's budget. Searching for answers he turned to an old friend and hit the bottle, adding a wet kit from Nitrous Express.
Although nitrous oxide is an economical means to big performance gains, horror stories of engine meltdowns and exploding bottles have scared more than a few potential users away. The reality is, when properly installed and used responsibly, nitrous can be a safe and relatively inexpensive option for significant performance gains. "I've had nitrous on four different cars," explains Michael. "It's cheap, simple and reliable. I've never broken anything, motor-wise." So far, Michael has made seven "official" passes on the bottle with nary a sign of a mechanical apocalypse lurking under the hood. These haven't been shakedown runs either, as evidenced by his 12.03 ET and 123.6 mph trap speed.
Michael was confident in the engine's ability to handle a 125 horsepower shot of the juice, but he knew the stock clutch would not last long with over 500 lbs.-ft. of torque passing through to the wheels. As a preventative measure, he upgraded to a SPEC Stage 3 clutch, complete with carbon pads and an aluminum flywheel.
In addition to the nitrous-assisted passes, Michael has a stack of nearly 70 timeslips from naturally aspirated runs, with a 12.70 at 112 mph resting on top of the heap. Nitrous has put Michael on the doorstep of 11-second runs, but 12.70s off the bottle didn't come without the help of other well thought out modifications. An LS1 Hot Cam tops the list of motor changes, though the heads have not yet been modified. When asked why the heads remained untouched, Turner again cited budgetary constraints. "As the money comes, I put something on the car," he explains, "and the heads are coming." Headers too are undoubtedly on the wish list, but until those are feasible, Michael runs with the stock exhaust manifolds, mated to a MAC offroad y-pipe and a Borla cat-back exhaust. The bump in the passenger-side footwell is the only visible reminder of the catalytic converters, which have long since been discarded.
In spite of limited resources, Michael did not underestimate the value of suspension improvements during his buildup. Diving head first into the Hotchkis product line, Michael picked up swaybars, springs, an adjustable panhard bar, strut tower brace and rear control arms from the California-based suspension specialist. Bilstein shocks were also added in both the front and rear, as well as a transmission mount and torque arm bushings from Energy Suspension.
When Michael originally started looking for another Camaro, he had his mind set on a first-gen car. However, the reliability of a newer car and the stout performance of the LS1 overruled his aesthetic desires. Still wanting a bit of that older musclecar styling without the archaic performance characteristics, Michael picked up a set of lightweight 17-inch Torque Thrust II wheels. To avoid the traction problems that plagued the original musclecars, Turner added a set of Yokohama A032Rs, with 315/35 series tires in the rear for a slightly larger footprint and more muscular stance. Stopping force for these massive meats is controlled with Power Slot rotors and HPS pads on all four corners.
Rarely is the term "sensible" used when describing high-performance cars, yet we find ourselves doing so in this case. Michael Turner has built a car equally capable of running the quarter-mile at Hallsville or negotiating the turns at Hallett, without finding himself in the poorhouse or, for that matter, the doghouse.