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2010 Chevy Camaro - 25 Proven Tips And Tricks

Take Your Fifth-Gen From Stock As A Rock To Large And In Charge

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If you have purchased a fifth-generation Camaro, or this magazine, then no doubt you have come to love the styling inherent in the General's most refined pony car yet. However, the down side to owning a wildly successful and popular car is that it is difficult to separate yourself from the Jones'. The many different factory color and stripe options certainly help, but not like a new set of wheels or a supercharger kit that will put car lengths between you and your neighbor. Whether subtle or screaming, whistling or purring, there are many avenues to explore, which will separate your Camaro from the 100,000 others on the road. Here is a list of helpful tips and tricks to help aid your journey.

[1] Exhaust
Just like any other LS motor, the LS3 and L99 love long-tube headers. If you are looking for a complete system from the headers to the tail pipes then check out Kooks Custom Headers and American Racing. Both make a complete 304 stainless steel system with several primary and collector size options. Dynotech makes a nice set, which will bolt up to a stock or aftermarket crossover. BBK and JBA's headers, however, require its own X-pipe-both of which also offer V-6 headers and exhaust. Stainless Works and SLP are two more to check out, both offer full systems as well as headers that bolt to the stock crossover. Those looking for a different exhaust note and minimal labor will like the ease of an axle-back from Dynomax, GM Performance Parts, SLP, Magnaflow, Borla or Corsa. However, a few ponies may be had from an X-pipe that is available from Corsa, MBRP, Flowmaster, Magnaflow, Pypes, Borla, etc. Volume and tone will vary between manufacturers and types of muffler.


[2] Cold Air Intake Like mufflers, OEM air boxes have become quite good, so the gains from an aftermarket cold air kit might not be night and day. However, they do offer a unique look and one less restriction in the intake tract that may prove problematic as your build progresses. Many also offer a washable and reusuable filter that comes with a warranty. VaraRam, Airaid, K&N, Spectre Performance, and Cold Air Inductions (CAI) are just a few options on the market.


[3] Tune
With increased modifications computer tuning will become a necessity, but for a stock or bolt-on car tuning can be a means of squeezing a little more power and fuel economy out of your Camaro. Again, the gains through ECM tuning are not nearly what they were on the fourth-gen or other earlier models, but it is still a viable way of improving performance-especially on automatics, where trans tuning also comes into play. For those already equipped with a laptop, and not afraid of virtual VE tables, HP Tuners has a software suite to suit your needs. Of course you can always seek out a quality tuner locally to do the dirty work for you, or go the mail order route-PCMforLess is a great example. The third option is to go with a handheld tuner such as SCT, which is the most user-friendly way of tuning yourself. Take comfort in knowing that over a 1,000 rwhp is possible with the stock ECM, so unless you are building a full-on race car, it is just a matter of tuning.


[4] Ported Heads
The stock LS3/L99 heads flow over 330cfm as cast, however, quality cylinder head porter can up the ante to 349 to 360-plus cfm. Advanced Induction, West Coast Cylinder Heads, Livernois and Total Engine Airflow have impressive CNC programs, however, Mast Motorsports has its own casting that takes the stock 15-degree valve angle to 12 degrees (among many other improvements). A bump in compression for naturally aspirated setups is highly recommended where 93-octane pump gas or race gas is used. Other LS heads such as the traditional cathedral port stuff from Trick Flow and Air Flow Research will bolt up to the LS3/L99, but require a different intake and rockers. The highly coveted LS7 heads will not, without ET Performance/Performance Induction's casting, due to its extra large valves. The LS9 heads have larger head bolt-holes, which prevent its use on the LS3/L99 block, but are cost-effective, CNC ported and stronger than the Camaro's casting (making it more appropriate for boost applications).


[5] Camshaft
Once you've outfitted your Camaro with some headers and a cold air intake, the next logical step is an aftermarket camshaft (unless you fancy some boost) to take your Gen IV to 450 rwhp and beyond. In addition to giving a healthy rumble to your LS3/L99, it can take advantage of the high-flowing stock heads. For the variable valve timing L99, look no further than Mast Motorsports and COMP Cams. Both have complete kits that will keep the VVT in check with the lumpier bumpstick, and also have many offerings for the LS3 as does Lunati. Those looking for a more docile cam to complement a blower or turbo can call GMPP for an LS9 cam, though COMP also has quite a few shelf grinds to accommodate various boost-makers. Don't forget to upgrade the valvesprings-Comp, Mast, Manley and Lunati all have beehive and dual-spring upgrades.


[6] Nitrous
The high compression LS3 (10.7:1) and L99 (10.4:1) lend themselves very well to nitrous. Plus the huge kick in torque also makes it a great mod for the fifth-gen's portly nature, and let's be honest-there is no quicker and cheaper way to add 75 to 200 hp. Several great kits are on the market from NOS, ZEX, and Nitrous Outlet. The close proximity of the idler pulley to the throttle body makes the traditional plate style delivery method difficult, which doesn't seem to stop the Nitrous Outlet or Nitrous Express. However, NOS and ZEX both use the more flexible nozzle setup. The ZEX kit has some nice features including Active Fuel Control to adjust for nitrous bottle pressure and an electronic TPS/WOT switch, which is also available for the V-6.


[7] Supercharging
The new 160-degree high helix, four-lobe TVS blowers from Eaton have been all the rage with fifth-gens, they are easy to install, reliable at moderate boost levels, and provide instant torque-something the hefty '10 could use. In addition to using these blowers in OEM applications, such as the CTS-V's LSA and the ZR1's LS9, several manufacturers including Magnusen, Edelbrock, Harrop/LM Speed, SLP and Trick Flow have all embraced them and put their own spin on it. The intercooler, aesthetics, and runner design will vary for each brand. Some, such as the Edelbrock blower, even come with a substantial warranty. The Harrop and GMPP LS9 blower are the only two that use a direct drive from the pulley, instead of a "jack shaft." All of the TVS blowers, however, are a front entry design and come in either the 1900 or 2300 version-which refer to the size (1.9 or 2.3-liter). The LS9 blower is the only one that places the intercooler on the top.


Though rumor has it Whipple is working on its own version, Kenne Bell was the first to develop a twin-screw kit for the fifth-gen, and has the most potential of any positive displacement blower on the market. Available in three versions or sizes (2.8, 3.6 and 4.2-liter), Kenne Bell has proven to make 650 to 1,200 hp. The 3.6 and 4.2L versions are intended, of course, for built and larger displacement motors. However, the 2.8L is a potent performer available in standard and liquid cooled versions, for even lower inlet air temperatures and longevity. With just 8 to 9 psi of boost the 2.8L has made over 550 rwhp on an otherwise stock LS3. Kits are available in both 50-state (CARB) legal and standard.


While the centrifugal blower is sometimes criticized for lag, due to its dependence on engine RPM, it can prove a valuable asset where traction is limited. A properly designed kit and sized blower should prevent the dreaded belt slippage-check out offerings from ProCharger, Vortech, Paxton and East Coast Supercharging. ProCharger currently boasts two of the fastest and most powerful supercharged fifth-gen combos in the country thanks to its ability to easily upgrade from the base P-1SC blower all the way up to an F-1 for over 1,000 rwhp.

[8] Turbocharging
Turbo technology has come such a long way that "lag" is no longer an issue, and turbos have several benefits over blowers such as their efficiency, reduced fuel demands, and the ability to easily change boost. Victory Racing Engines' Street Sniper turbo kits, for example, boast a clean look, excellent street manners and the ability to make over 600 rwhp (check out Rodrigo Olmedo's '10 elsewhere in this issue). Several other shops are also fabricating single and twin turbo setups such as Speed Inc and FLP, but as far as mail order kits-call Hellion, Turbonetics, or STS (the only company with a V-6 kit as well). At the time of publication STS and Turbonetics were in the midst of the CARB approval process, and should hopefully be legal by the year's end. Expect a few more to become available soon; word is Granatelli/Turbo Technology's kit should be available for purchase by the time you read this.


[9] Forged Pistons
The stock hypereutectic pistons have been pushed over 600 rwhp, but we wouldn't recommend it. If you plan on boosting your '10, a set of forged pistons that will drop the compression to a more safe 9.0 or 9.5:1 will keep your tuner happy and prevent catastrophic disaster. GMPP and Diamond (via Victory Racing Engines) make forged pistons that will work with the stock connecting rods, however, if you plan on making 650 rwhp or more forged rods would also be recommended. In which case, check out pistons from JE, Mahle, Diamond, and Wiseco (to name a few). The 4.065-inch dished pistons seen here are from Diamond, which work with 6.125-inch rods and can be made either for the stock 3.622-inch stroke or a 4-inch stroke (the difference being only the compression height).


[10] Stroker Kits
With a 4-inch stroke crank, the 376-cube LS3/L99 becomes around 416 ci. Throw in a larger hydraulic roller cam and ported heads, and 550 to 600 hp (at the crank) is easily possible naturally aspirated. This over-square bore and stroke combination has proven reliable, and the right piston design and ring choice should prevent oil consumption. There are mixed opinions in the industry whether a 4.100- or 4.125-inch stroke is a good idea due to the cylinder length, however, this will largely depend on application. Opinions vary on how much boost and nitrous the stock block will withstand, but 850 rwhp is a good cut-off depending on application. Callies, Eagle, Manley and SCAT are three great sources. Note that fifth-gen's require a 58x reluctor wheel, and make sure the rods and rod bolts are up to the task of your power goals. The Eagle kit (seen here) comes with top-of-the-line Mahle forged pistons (-4.0cc and -20cc), 6.125-inch H-beam rods, and a 4340 crank.


[11] Crate Engine
If simply adding a stroker kit isn't going to cut it, or you like the piece of mind of a warranty, then a crate engine might be for you. The highly coveted 638hp LS9 is an easy shoehorn, but more difficult to get running since the accessory drive system will not work in the fifth-gen and the wiring harness and ECM are completely different. The 556hp, wet sump LSA will also present similar issues, however, some talented shops have been able to make it work, so don't be too discouraged. The 505-horse LS7 is quite a bit easier and lighter, but obviously lacks a supercharger. A custom engine build using a GMPP LSX or RHS block would be another option and a great upgrade for larger cubes or the strength to withstand as much boost or nitrous as you can throw at it. If you are looking for big block-type cubes (454-502) this is the only way to go.


[12] Intake Manifold
With big cubes or boost, the FAST LSXR intake manifold has proven itself an effective power adder at every RPM. It's composite, so it doesn't heat soak like aluminum, and has individual runners that can be modified to suit any application. For even the wildest streetcar, this is definitely the way to go to maintain torque throughout the powerband. Single plane and sheet-metal intakes have also proven effective in producing excellent power on wild combinations, though said gains are usually at peak and will often give up low-end torque.


[13] Lowering Springs/Sway Bars
The list of companies making suspension parts for the fifth-gen is growing by the day, and one of the most common yet effective ways of improving handling is via lowering springs and sway bars. These two parts work in concert with one another and can completely change the handling characteristics. With the right spring rate and sway bar combo, you can get an athletic stance and the confidence to take any corner in a spirited fashion. Check out offerings from Detroit Speed (seen here), LSR Performance, Pfadt Racing, Hotchkis, UMI, and BMR. If you've got the coin to spend, Pfadt Racing's adjustable coilovers are an ideal upgrade as well. With 2.5 inches of ride height adjustability plus twenty different dampening settings, it will offer the most tune-ability for racing not to mention increased feedback and consistency.


[14] Trailing Arms/Bushings
Inherent to every OEM IRS suspension are wheelhop-causing-spongy-rubber bushings. Swap out the bushings in the rear cradle and diff cover with polyurethane to reduce the chances of breaking an axle or worse, as well as improving handling. Pfadt Race Engineering also makes some killer solid mounts for the more hardcore racing crowd. Replacing the factory rear trailing arms is also a must-do; we've seen several low and no-mile pieces noticeably bent. LSR Performance, Pfadt, BMR, Hotchkis and UMI are all good sources.

[15] Clutch
The factory clutch is the same unit designed for the 427-cube LS7 in the Z06, but unfortunately the weight of the Camaro can easily do it in at the track. Don't be surprised if the clutch pedal sticks to the floor in your stock or bolt-on fifth-gen the next time you hit the strip. A simple single disc upgrade will easily hold up to a bolt-on, cam-only or heads/cam combination. However, with a power adder or stroker motor you may want to consider a twin-disc setup for decreased pedal feel. SPEC, Centerforce and RAM all have impressive models proven to withstand serious power. LS9 retrofits and RPS have also become quite popular among the fifth-gen crowd.


[16] Torque Converter
For any automatic, a torque converter is most often one of the best modifications you can make. Increased stall speed and torque multiplication will make your '10-11 a blast to drive, improving acceleration and responsiveness like you never imagined. With other mods such as a cam, stroker or power adder it becomes even more imperative to use a quality aftermarket converter in order to get the power to the pavement. Precision Industries, Circle D, Yank, TCI and FTI are some of the few that make converters for the 6L80E.


[17] Rear End
Even stock '10s were seeing axle failures on the outer bearing cage, where it attaches to the hub, so a good set of chromoly or 300M axles are highly recommended before attempting any track flogging. The Drive Shaft Shop makes some of the best on the market, which have proven quite durable. TDSS's Corvette and GTO axles have been well into the 8s. Look elsewhere in this issue for more information on their 300M units. A more economical choice would be G-Force's 4340 (chromoly) version, which are rated up to 1,000 hp. An aftermarket posi could also help the hefty Camaro, which is known to produce a one-wheel peel, but said aftermarket pieces are still in development. Look for upgraded stock units to be available first from Jannetty Racing among others. The tall factory tires could use more than the factory supplied 3.45 or 3.27:1 ratio gears, however, some have had durability issues when swapping to a 3.73 or 4.10 gear. The easy, though pricier, solution is a bolt-in 9-inch rear from Hendrix Engineering or The Drive Shaft Shop. With the abundance of gear manufacturers, ratios, and posi units plus the added durability of the larger ring gear-the 9-inch has many advantages.


[18] Trans Rebuild
According to RPM Transmissions your Camaro's TR-6060 (manual) has several issues. First and foremost, the mainshaft tends to break because it is not supported internally at the rear of the transmission. The blocking rings are also known to be uncooperative when the trans is cold, especially on the 1-2 shift. RPM has upgrades to cure both of these including a custom 9130 mainshaft with a bearing to support the tailhousing. Look for other companies such as D&D Performance to chime in soon enough. The 6L80E is still a bit of a mystery. Circle D, Level 10 and Rossler Transmissions are some of the few in the country actually fortifying them. Most say, however, that the biggest trick to keeping them alive is in the tuning. A lack of expertise in this area has caused some builders to pull out of this market, however, LMR managed to run its 9-second pass with over 1,000 rwhp through the 6L80E.


[19] Brakes
The stock Brembos on the SS are quite substantial, but for many just "good" is not good enough. Stoptech as well as Stillen/AP Racing, Baer and Wilwood's new kits, are perfect for creating the ultimate supercar or an open track car. Those who prefer straight line racing, on the other hand, will want to go in the opposite direction. An 18-inch wheel is the smallest that will fit over the stock rear brakes, so if you want a meatier sidewall switching to the V-6 brakes is an easy solution. Switching to the base model's front brakes will also allow a 16- or 17-inch skinny for decreased rolling resistance.


[20] Fuel System
Thankfully the stock pump is quite powerful when tweaked with a Kenne Bell or MSD voltage booster. Over 600 rwhp has been made with the stock pump with supercharged combos, so for a typical street car an aftermarket pump may not be necessary. Those making 650 to 700 hp or more will either have to run a high-volume pump off a surge tank such as Vengeance Racing's G8 setup, completely discard the stock tank and run a high-volume pump off a fuel cell, or wait for the aftermarket to catch up. Word on the street is that Fore Precision Works is putting the finishing touches on its billet fuel hat design that will allow for up to three in-tank pumps, and Aeromotive is hard at work on its own setup with a large single pump. High-volume rails are already available from a number of sources including Aeromotive and FAST, as are injectors. Check out FAST, Racetronix, and RC Engineering for high impedence injectors over 65 lb/hr. The big boys will need Acceleronics or Racetronix low impedence injectors and injector driver to jive with the stock ECM.

[21] Wheels
There are many options when it comes to rims, which largely depend on your budget, taste and intended usage. A quick search on TireRack.com will show American Racing has more than a few options, and word is Weld Racing has a few wheels coming out in its Street Performance that would look right at home on a fifth-gen. GMPP's 21-inch black-accented wheels are an easy choice for OEM quality and fitment. If your pockets are deep and you are looking for something comparably sized or larger than the stock wheels, then check out Complete Custom Wheel (CCW), BBS, Forgeline or Savini Forged. All of these companies make a great rim for the street or show car, but for those of you looking to switch to a set of V-6 brakes and head to the drag strip you might want to check out Bogart, Holeshot, or CCW. All three make lightweight racing wheels in 16-inch diameter to pair nicely with a set of skinnies and slicks or drag radials.


[22] Tires
With the OEM SS or stock sized wheels, options are very limited. The stock Pirellis are one of the stickiest out there at the moment, but of course there are other options in the all-season department (boo!). The Nitto Invo is also a formidable tire, available in stock SS sizes, and the ultra-gummy NT05 is available in plus sizes. The Toyo T1R is also a great tire for the street that will work with the stock wheels, and the sticky R888 competition tire also comes in 20-inch sizes (though not stock sizes). Nitto is the only company that makes a drag radial to fit the stock (SS) rear wheels. However, drag radials for 18-inch wheels are available from Mickey Thompson, M&H, BFG, Goodyear, Nitto, and Toyo. Those with the base V-6 model and 18s, thankfully have a plethora of tire selections.


[23] Body
With over 100,000 Camaros sold it is easy to get lost in the mix. An easy solution is changing the exterior styling, in which there are many options and many different directions you can go. The new school, cutting edge type guy may prefer the carbon fiber pieces from Seibon Carbon or Fesler. While the old school guy or gal may want to call Innovation Retro Kits for its '69 style nose. Many others including Innovative Vehicle Solutions, RK Sport and Street Scene also got in on the action, but the Bomex Wide Body Kit is by far the wildest. For just a simple hood, check out SLP, VFN, AMS, Garys Customz, RK Sport, and Suncoast to name a few. Also check out Late Model Restoration Supply for a large assortment of stripes, louvers, emblems, grills, smoked tail light covers, and other body parts. GM Performance Parts also sells both styles of OEM stripes as well as the factory optional ground effects and Satin Nickel Fuel Filler Door.


[24] Special Edition Cars
If the idea of compiling any of the parts you see here is intimidating, or you just like the idea of a more plug and play built car, there are other options. Special edition cars by any number of tuners have become quite popular. Take, for example, the Nickey Camaro you see here, which packs a 707hp LS7 prepped by Wegner Motorsports. If that is not impressive enough, Nickey is also working with the folks at Finish Line Performance to develop a turbocharged version of this car. Of course there are also lower levels such as the Stage II, which uses CNC ported cylinder heads, a Comp cam, FAST intake and exhaust to make 600hp. The Stage I takes away the heads and cam for a more manageable 500hp. There are a few other historic nameplates being revived, and even Hurst got in on the action. The Fesler Moss Camaro is a more modern take, outfitted with plenty of carbon fiber, 22-inch Asanti wheels and 6-piston Baer brakes. And of course, fourth-gen afficionados will be familiar with SLP Performance. Another up-side to these special edition cars is that they are in most cases low production making them an excellent collector car that could potentially be worth quite a bit of money down the road.


[25] Interior
For the stick shift crowd, swapping the stock shifter for an MGW, Hurst or LSR Performance is a must. Make sure you take the stock knob with it-thankfully MGW and Hurst also offer them. Late Model Restoration has plenty of billet to dress up the interior as well, but if carbon fiber is more your taste Fesler makes a complete interior package (door panels, gauge cluster, center console, etc). DSV Customs makes custom steering wheels with a wide selection of colors and materials including Alcantara, not to mention every interior part imaginable in carbon. The folks at Advanced Automotive Concepts have taken the factory optional ambient light package (LED interior lighting) a step further with six different colors to choose from.



Compton, CA 90220
Memphis, TN 38118
Chevrolet Performance Parts
Detroit, MI 48232
The Driveshaft Shop
Salisbury, NC 28147
Pfadt Race Engineering
Diamond Racing
Clinton Township, MI 48035
Memphis, TN 38118
Hurst Shifters
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Squires Turbo Systems
Orem, UT



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