Let's face it, Camaro owners: some elitist auto aficionados don't look favorably on us F-body drivers. Some might ask where your mullet went, demand to know how many pairs of jorts you own, or ask how things are down at the trailer park. While the tempting comeback to said Eurotrash might involve comments toward his coke habit, money-grubbing trophy wife, or massive debt to drive something slower than your ride, actions speak louder than words.
Original owner Jason Debler of CamaroZ28.com ordered this 2002 Camaro SS and threw the whole SLP catalog at it, along with a well-planned suspension overhaul. Current owner Mark Meltzer built upon this solid foundation, adding about 120 all-motor horsepower. ----->
So consider this Camaro a salvo in the fight against such prejudice. Mark Meltzer's sleek 2002 Camaro SS is all black, and it's all business. It's like a sharply tailored dark suit. Red C5 Corvette Z06 brake calipers provide the barest flash of color-like a classy pocket square peeking out of a breast pocket.
Don't be fooled by the buttoned-down appearance. Just as James Bond conceals an array of deadly weapons beneath his flawless Savile Row threads, this Chevy's shiny sheetmetal hides a collection of performance goodies that is sure to secure an advantage against almost any opponent.
Key among the secret weapons at Meltzer's disposal is the Camaro's engine. It has propelled this car to an 11-second quarter-mile time, but it's not supercharged, turbocharged, or boosted with a shot of nitrous. Open the hood of the car dubbed "Phantom SS," and you'll see a few performance goodies lurking in the immaculate engine bay, but nothing that looks like your mom's hair dryer.
"I'm a naturally aspirated kind of guy," Meltzer says. Pull his file and you see the evidence that backs up this statement: a key milestone of his automotive past is a 1996 Callaway SuperNatural Grand Sport Corvette, from back in the days when Callaway specialized in all N/A tuning, all the time.
"It's easy to throw a supercharger or turbo on a car and get some quick power," Meltzer admits, "but to me, when you build a motor up you get a more satisfying feel than if you have to add something extraneous to it.
"This car doesn't need Viagra," Meltzer quips when folks ask when he's going to add a little boost.
The engine at the heart of this stealthy Camaro is built around a forged bottom end and a not-too-crazy 10.5:1 compression ratio.
"I wasn't looking for a 500- or 600-hp car," Meltzer says, "I just wanted it to be nice and strong, about 420 or 425."