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Wild Timeslips, Rampant Nitrous, Smashed Drivelines, And How An LT1 Got Fast

Rick Jensen Nov 1, 2005

While definitely a dangerous substance, when used properly, the juice can turn the hopes and dreams of a young man into bankable success. The powerful intravenous injection can transform a meager 275-horse small-block into a raging 460-plus rear-wheel-horsepower wolverine. Through the use of proper tuning, 23-year old Robert Culhane has safely enjoyed countless mile-high 11-second passes on his stock LT1-equipped '94 Camaro, thanks to its Nitrous Express 200hp hypodermic.

"I used to be completely against nitrous," admitted Robert, but after doing his homework, he started to warm up to the idea. Soon he came to realize spraying the Camaro would be a very simple and effective way of dropping the ET from the dismal times the bolt-on LT1 was currently running. Partly to blame was the 6,000 feet of altitude at the track nearest his Fort Collins, Colorado, home. However, the Nitrous Express wet nozzle he plumbed into the Trick Flow intake elbow would change all that.

A stock motor rebuild was performed at Smiley's Machine Shop in Greeley, Colorado, whereby a fresh set of bearings would welcome a slightly larger cam and the unnatural male enhancement. The stock bottom end and heads were retained, however a COMP Cams 210/220 duration, .500/.510-inch lift cam in conjunction with Crane 1.6 rockers and an LT4 intake would help the LT1 breathe a little easier. A Moroso cold-air intake and Edelbrock/BBK 58mm throttle body would also do their parts to inhale fresh atmosphere. Exhalation would be carried out through a set of MAC mid-length headers and a Dynomax 3-inch off-road Y-pipe with race bullet mufflers.

While his issues with the stock Optispark have nearly sent Culhane into 'roid rage, the MSD coil and NGK TR6 plugs have been crucial in maintaining optimum combustion and preserving the life of the newly rebuilt motor. A Walbro 255-lph fuel pump has also been essential in maintaining proper fuel pressure to both the nitrous system and new OEM 24-pound injectors. Lastly, the precise diet of fuel, air, and ignition timing was dialed into the factory computer by PCMforLess.

Though the combination of proper tuning, ignition, and fuel upgrades have kept the stock motor together, the same cannot be said for Robert's transmission or rearend. The juice has claimed the lives of three 4L60Es, however this time Tower Performance and Repair in Denver, fortified the tranny, which should now hold up to over 500 horses. The 10-bolt rearend, unfortunately, is a more difficult fix. Robert has shattered the ring-and-pinion twice, and is currently biding his time with a TA Performance rearend girdle and extra welding on the axle tubes before he later upgrades to a 12-bolt. The Precision Vigilante 2800-stall converter, Motive 3.73 gears, and Mickey Thompson ET Streets are a ruthless combination yielding 1.7 short times with still more room for improvement.

Despite the 26x10.5 ET Streets, traction can still be hard to come by with over 520 pounds of torque at the wheels. So far Culhane has focused his suspension mods on improved handling with BMR subframe connectors, a Panhard bar, polyurethane bushings, Eibach Sportline springs, and Hotchkis sway bars. "I like the feel on the street, especially when I go on F-body cruises up in the mountains. It handles like its on rails." The chrome 18x9.5-inch Z06 wheels with high-performance Nitto 555s measuring 275/40ZR18 are also partly responsible, increasing the size and quality of the contact patch. Sure Stop cross-drilled and slotted rotors with VGX brake pads were the final element in helping Robert negotiate the treacherous Rocky Mountain roads.

The improved braking system is also crucial in helping Robert make it onto the return road at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado, where he has piloted the Camaro to 11.69 at 114 mph uncorrected. Unfortunately Bandimere is located in the heart of the Rockies, and the 5,800 feet of elevation is like racing with a parachute dragging behind you the entire distance of the track. Low 11s or even 10s might be possible with more favorable topography.

It's scary to think that besides the mild cam upgrade and bolt-ons, Robert's LT1 is stock; yet when a mixture of two parts nitrogen and one part oxygen is added, an invincible power is unleashed. While some still contend that more natural performance enhancers are the only safe road to lower timeslips, this Z begs to differ.


The hardtop Z28 has a few additions to the interior, including a six-speed F-body console for a cleaner look and the ability to hide some of the switches. Auto Meter C2 Cobalt nitrous pressure and Ultralite trans and water temperature gauges adorn the A-pillar. The gauge overlay is compliments of RK Sport, while the aluminum trim ring was purchased online. A Scanmaster is mounted on the dash to display and record all of the vitals, including knock and timing retard.

The stock rebuilt LT1 features a mild 210/220 duration bumpstick from COMP Cams with an LT4 intake, an BBK/Edelbrock 58mm throttle body, Crane 1.6 rockers, MAC headers, a 3-inch Dynomax exhaust, and a shot of juice that would dilate even Jose Canseco's pupils.

Easy access is kept to the arming, the purge, the manual fan, and the Scanmaster interface switches via the ashtray...

...The Nitrous Express 10-pound bottle is mounted just behind the driver seat for fast and easy operation.

N20 is mixed with fuel and is sprayed through the Nitrous Express nozzle plumbed into the Trick Flow intake elbow.

Style meets function with a big-block-style fiberglass hood and spoiler painted by a local GM dealership, not to mention Eibach Sportline springs. In combination with a BMR Panhard bar and subframe connectors, polyurethane bushings, and Hotchkis sway bars, the Z hugs the many curves of Colorado's mountain roads.

Robert designed the custom vinyl graphics to caress the Z's sexy body lines, which also help showcase a set of 18x9.5-inch chrome Z06 wheels shod with grippy Nitto 555 275/40ZR18 rubber. Sure Stop cross-drilled and slotted rotors with painted Camaro decal-laden graphics are also noticeably accessible.

The arming and safety switches are kept at arm's length below the cigarette lighter. A custom Mallory Billet Aluminum shift knob and custom engraved plate with horsepower and torque ratings also dress up the console. The plate will need to be updated, however, from the advertised 460 hp and 520 lb-ft since Robert has switched from a 175 to a 200hp shot.


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