Vengeance is Always in FashionYou wouldn't think the world of high fashion and high performance street/strip cars would have much in common, but they do--the color black. When it comes to clothing, everything is measured in degrees away from the simple, always-in-fashion black ensemble, from men's suits to women's cocktail dresses. It's the same thing with cars, only the hue has a more brutish, all-business connotation. From Falfa's '55 Chevy in "American Graffiti" to the Lamborghini Reventon, it's been a theme for generations.
Bad, black and fast cars seem to be the theme at Cumming, GA-based Vengeance Racing, too. The renowned shop, managed by Ron Mowen and owned by Mike Carnahan, has turned out more than its share of black beasts, with two of the quicker examples seen here. The first is Joe Smith's 1998 Camaro SS that's swapped its original LS1 for a big-inch LSX power plant; the other is Jan Ruble's 2006 GTO--also with stretched displacement. Both have run in the 9s, backing up their sinister style with killer performance. Each car is naturally aspirated and gets its kicks from a nitrous system; and each is representative of Vengeance's recipe for building strong, go-fast LS-mobiles.
Let's start with Smith's Camaro SS: The Tennessee resident bought the car from its original owner in 2006, with the expressed intent of making it competitive on the local eighth mile strips and the occasional quarter mile blast, where it has run a best of 9.16 at nearly 147 mph. And while he wanted it quick, he also wanted it durable and streetable. To achieve his goal, Smith sent the car to Georgia, where Vengeance's techs dropped the stock 346-cube LS1 and built an LSX-based 454-inch engine to replace it. Sure, GM Performance Parts' iron LSX block would add a few pounds to the front of the already nose-heavy F-body, but the tire-yanking torque of the engine would more than make up for the difference.
The LSX features 4.185-inch bores and a 4.125-inch stroke, complements of a Callies crankshaft. Callies also supplied the 6.125-inch-long rods, while the pistons came from Wiseco. All of the rotating assembly high compression ratio of nearly 11.8:1 is achieved with the pistons squeezing against Trick Flow heads with tight, 64cc chambers. A set of 2.08 and 1.60-inch valves in the heads are kept open for an awfully long time, thanks to a Comp Cams roller camshaft ground to Vengeance's specifications. Those specs include 0.609-inch lift on the intake side and 0.596-inch on the exhaust. Duration is 262/270 degrees and the lobe separation is 114 degrees.
Drawing air into the big-cube LS engine is a FAST LSX intake that was ported at Vengeance for enhanced flow. It's paired with a 90mm Bluemaxx throttle body, while a set of 46-pound injectors match that tremendous airflow capability with a suitable quantity of gas. Of course, the mixture is also enriched by a wet, dual-stage Nitrous Outlet setup that provides a manageable, 200-horsepower hit at first, followed by an additional 200 horses when the car's momentum lessens the chance for traction loss. The stock computer commands the LS1 with some modification via EFILive by Carnahan.
The transmission is a thoroughly built Turbo 400 from RPM Transmission, in Indiana. It's fitted with a Neal Chance converter, with a 4000-stall speed and the obligatory trans brake for a harder hit to the tires. When it comes to channeling the power of the big-inch, nitrous-assisted LSX to the ground, Vengeance upgraded the Camaro with the strip in mind. The original front cradle was swapped for a tubular unit from UMI, along with new upper and lower control arms, and HAL 12-position shocks. At the rear, a 9-inch axle replaces the original 10-bolt, while the softer springs from a Camaro V-6 model help in the transfer of weight from the car's nose. And like the front, a set of HAL adjustable shocks was installed, as were UMI subframe connectors and a Wolfe Drag Bar. The Camaro rides on Weld wheels all around, with Mickey Thompson front runner tires and ET Drag 28-inch-tall rubber in the rear. The car also wears Strange lightweight racing brakes.