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1999 Chevy Camaro SS - Bait & Hook

A '99 Camaro Draws In Prey With Striking Good Looks, Then Dominates Them With 9-Second Passes

Justin Cesler Nov 1, 2009

The LSX community, although quite large, remains a very intimate and close-knit group of enthusiasts. From time to time there are "rogue cars" that pop up, seemingly out of nowhere, run fast and then disappear again. However, for the most part, if you look close enough, you can watch a car coming up through the ranks as we have for a couple of years. Such is the case with Tommy Herrschaft and his '99 Camaro SS (although he probably didn't know it). Starting with a stock car and developing into a beautiful 9-second street ride wasn't done overnight, but according to Tommy the fun was in the journey, not the end result.

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"I thank my dad for being a gearhead and getting me interested in cars at an early age. Showing me how to fix things when I broke them helped me to learn to work on the vehicle myself, which has brought me more joy than people who pay to have cars built. It has also led to a lot of custom modifications on the car because of my enthusiasm to work on it." He isn't lying; Tommy has basically modded everything on his '99 Camaro, including the engine, drivetrain, and exterior.

"First it was bolt-ons, then cam-only, then heads, then nitrous. After I broke a lifter, I had to build a new motor, which led to this current combo." That combo is built off of an '07 LS3 block, which has been punched out to 416 cubic inches by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center. A 4.00-inch Callies Compstar crankshaft spins a set of matching rods, which hold tight to a set of Manley -10cc pistons wrapped in Sealed Power rings. SDPC also installed a set of ARP main studs over the stock main caps and ARP rod bolts before shipping the short-block to Tommy, where the rest of the engine was assembled. Motivating the valvetrain is a Comp Cams camshaft with LSL lobes, which features 247/254 degrees of duration, 0.623-inches of lift on both the intake and exhaust, and a 114-degree lobe separation angle. Sixteen TrickFlow 7.450-inch pushrods actuate the Harland Sharp 1.7:1 roller rockers that reside in the TEA/Trickflow 215cc LS1 cylinder heads. Milled to 60cc, these heads give the motor a final compression of 11.5:1, perfect for the nitrous.

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In regards to that nitrous system, it comes from a Nitrous Outlet 90mm plate, which is bolted in between a FAST LSX intake manifold and a polished Nick Williams 90mm throttle body. Two hundred hp worth of nitrous comes from a 10-lb bottle in the back seat, while the C16 race gas comes from a custom fabricated 1.5-gallon fuel cell, mounted up front in the engine bay. Justin Nelson of J&J Performance is responsible for the tuning, which is done with a stock ECU and EFI Live. "Justin knows a lot about late-model EFI cars and I thank him for his constant help with information and support along the way. I talk to him and Steve almost daily and we are always thinking of something to mess with." You know the tune is spot on, as Tommy has made 522 rwhp on the motor alone and 727 rwhp on spray, good enough to take him into the 9-second zone in just a couple of track outings.

Done with the motor and power adder, Tommy began fortifying the rest of the drivetrain. A Fidanza two-piece flywheel mates to the back of the crankshaft, which is bolted to a McLeod RXT clutch and pressure plate. When engaged by the Pro 5.0 shifter, a built T56 sends power down a 3-inch Strange driveshaft to the rearend. "Justin Nelson upgraded small parts in the tranny (pads, forks, slider, etc) but we are still using the stock gears and mainshaft." Out back sits a Strange S60 rearend, stuffed with a set of 4.10 gears, 35-spline axles, and a Power Lock posi. Depending on where Tommy is, the axles either turn a pair of 17x11 ZR1 wheels wrapped in 315/35/17 BFGoodrich KD tires or a pair of 15x10 Weld Prostars wrapped in 28x10.5 M/T ET Drags.

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To keep those back tires planted, Tommy installed a slew of suspension goodies, which have helped him reach a 1.44 60-foot, no small task in a street driven, six-speed car. Up front is a pair of QA1 R-series shocks and a matching pair of 300 lb QA1 springs. A BMR adjustable torque arm, which has been relocated off of the transmission, runs down the middle of the car, flanked by a set of SLP triangulated subframe connectors. Holding the Dana 60 in place are a pair of relocated BMR lower control arms, which help center the rear by a BMR adjustable Panhard. The stock shocks are still in place, along with the SLP-supplied Eibach rear springs. Proof that a simple setup is sometimes all you need to go fast and handle well. "I drive this car 4 to 5 days a week and it rides great. It handles well enough to keep up with most cars on the road."

It also looks good enough to show up most cars on the road, as Tommy has taken the word "immaculate" to a whole new level. The factory black paint has been polished to near perfection, along with the factory wheels being so clean you could almost eat off of them. Up front sits an SLP grille, which helps clean up the front end and pull your attention upwards to the factory SS hood. When open, the hood reveals a show-quality engine bay, which has been meticulously painted, polished, wire-tucked, and cleaned. A subtle true-flame paintjob on the FAST intake draws your eyes to the polished nitrous hard lines heading to the plate and polished throttle body. Out back, below the factory SS spoiler, are a pair of Corsa exhaust tips, which are welded to an SLP dual/dual exhaust. Not only does the exhaust look great, but it sounds even better thanks to a set of 1.75-inch QTP long-tube headers and a custom Y-pipe. A subtle (well, as subtle as a 416ci motor can be) tone just barely gives away the 9-second beast that lies beneath this beauty. Unfortunately, by the time most people figure that out, it's too late, which is exactly the way Tommy likes it.

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Data File 1999 Camaro SS
Owner: Tommy Herrschaft
Block: LS3, 416 cid
Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Heads: TEA/TrickFlow 215cc, 2.02 intake, 1.575 exhaust valves
Cam: Comp Cams hydraulic roller, 247/254 duration at 0.050, 0.623/0.623-inch lift, 114 LSA
Rocker arms: Harland Sharp, 1.7 ratio
Pistons: Manley, forged
Rings: Sealed Power
Crankshaft: Callies Compstar, forged
Rods: Callies Compstar, forged
Throttle body: Nick Williams 90mm
Fuel injectors: 42 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Racetronix 255 lph
Ignition: Stock, coil-near-plug
Engine management: Stock, tuned by Justin Nelson
Power Adder: Nitrous Outlet 90mm Plate, 200-hp, single stage
Exhaust system: QTP 1.75-inch long-tube headers, custom off-road Y-pipe, SLP dual/dual exhaust with Corsa tips
Transmission: T56, built by Justin Nelson
Clutch: Mcleod RXT
Driveshaft: Strange 3-inch chrome-moly
Front suspension: QA1 R-series coil-overs, SLP sway bar, stock control arm
Rear suspension: BMR torque arm, lower control arms, Panhard bar, Eibach springs, stock shocks
Rearend: Strange S60, 4.10 gear, 35-spline axles, Power Lock posi
Brakes: Power Slot rotors, Hawk pads
Wheels: SLP SS 17x9.5 front, GM Grand Sport 17x11 rear (street); Greg Weld 15x3.5 front, 15x10 rear (track)
Front tires: BFG KD 275/40/17 (street), M/T ET Fronts 26x4.5-15 (track)
Rear tires: BFG KD 315/35/17 (street), M/T ET Drags 28x10.5-15 (track)
Fuel Octane: 93/117
ET/MPH: 9.91/140
60-Foot: 1.44
Current mileage: 37,000



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