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Fifth-Gen Chevy Camaro Turbo Kit - Under Pressure
Fastlane's ZL1 Turbo Kit Packs 585 RWHP With Bolt-In Simplicity.
Apr 28, 2011
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Fifth-Gen Chevy Camaro Turbo Kit - Under Pressure
Fastlane's ZL1 turbo kit lists at $7,995 and includes a BorgWarner 72mm turbocharger, 60-lb/hr fuel injectors, a custom air-to-air intercooler, a stainless exhaust manifold, a 2.5-inch crossover pipe, a 3.5-inch downpipe, and a TiAL wastegate and blow-off valve. All necessary clamps, silicone hoses, oil lines, and fittings are included as well. Since the factory exhaust manifolds flow so well, the ZL1 kit retains the stock passenger-side manifold, which feeds the custom Fastlane header on the driver side through the crossover pipe.
The bulk of BorgWarner's turbochargers power industrial vehicles, but they work extremely well in performance applications and pack some serious punch. The 72mm unit used in the ZL1 kit features a 4-inch compressor inlet, a 3-inch compressor outlet, and a 0.94 A/R ratio. With a slightly larger exhaust housing, this 72mm turbo has boosted fully built LS combos to 920 rwhp at 17 psi.
The first wave of disassembly involves disconnecting the battery and then removing the stock air box, engine cover, and front bumper cover. The top of the bumper cover is attached with both 10mm bolts and plastic push pins, and two 7mm bolts hold the corners in place. A small flathead screwdriver works best when prying off the plastic pins. The bumper wiring harness-which powers the headlights, turn signals, foglights, and ambient air temperature sensor-must be disconnected from beneath the passenger-side headlight before removing the bumper cover.
After removing the stock driver-side exhaust manifold, the new Fastlane header bolts into place using the factory hardware and gasket. The Delco spark plugs are also replaced with NGK TR6s, which are one heat range colder than stock. The front two cats on the passenger-side exhaust manifold are removed as well.
The factory positive battery cable is held by a bracket on the driver-side shock tower. Since the heat produced by the turbo can potentially melt it, Fastlane relocates it to the other side of the inner fenderwell. This involves drilling out three spot welds that hold the battery cable bracket to the shock tower, then routing it into an existing hole in the wheelwell. Next, the battery cable is bolted to the alternator cable before being shrink-wrapped for a fail-proof connection.
To help lay the battery cable flat and prevent it from rubbing on the shock, Fastlane cut a small section out of the inner fenderwell. Zimmerman enlarges the existing opening behind the shock by making two inch cuts downward using an air saw. This must be done carefully, since the A/C lines are routed in the same vicinity. For extra protection, the cables are covered in heat wrap before re-installing the plastic fender liner.
A trick feature of the BorgWarner turbo is that its compressor and exhaust housings attach to the center section with V-band clamps instead of bolts. This makes both clocking and disassembling the turbo a quick and easy affair. For ease of handling, Zimmerman prefers bolting the turbo to the header in separate sections.
After installing the exhaust housing onto the T4 flange on the Fastlane turbo header, Zimmerman slides the center section into place. Since the center section still needs to be clocked, the V-band clamps aren't tightened down all the way just yet.
For proper drainage, the center section of the turbo should be clocked so that the oil inlet and outlet are positioned at a 30-degree angle. Generally, the closer the turbo is to the oil pan, the closer to vertical the angle of the oil fittings must be to assist with drainage. Since the turbo in this application sits relatively high in the chassis, this isn't necessary. After clocking the center section, a -4AN feed line and a -10AN drain line are attached to the turbo.
It takes a bit of finagling to wrestle the compressor housing past the upper radiator hose. Unlike the exhaust housing, the compressor housing is clocked so that the discharge outlet points at the intercooler inlet. Again, the V-band clamp isn't completely tightened at this point to allow for some fine tuning once the intercooler piping is installed.
Drilling and tapping for the turbo's oil feed and drain lines can be intimidating, but it's actually not too difficult. To feed pressurized oil to the turbo, Fastlane taps into a passage about 1-inch behind the factory oil cooler on the driver side of the motor. Zimmerman starts by drilling a 1/8-inch hole, then cuts a new set of threads with a 1/8-inch tap before screwing in a -4AN adapter fitting. To keep metal out of the oil passages, the cutter should be packed with bearing grease.
Tapping the oil pan follows a similar procedure. The best spot to tap is right below the knock sensor on the passenger-side of the block, roughly 1/2-inch below the oil pan rail. Zimmerman first drills a 1/8-inch guide hole, enlarges it, and then cuts some threads with a 3/8-inch tap. A 3/8-to-10AN adapter fitting is then screwed in before hooking up the oil drain line. Just in case some metal shavings slip into the pan, Zimmerman recommends draining the existing oil, then running another seven quarts through the pan before filling it back up. Due to the heat generated by the turbo, Fastlane suggests running 20W-50 weight oil.
Fastlane's front-mount air-to-air intercooler measures 18x12.5x3.5 inches and features a 3-inch inlet and outlet. Before installing it, the inner bumper support must be removed from the frame by unbolting four 13mm bolts that hold it to each side of the frame. The top of the intercooler attaches to a custom bracket that bolts to the hood latch mounting holes, while the bottom is stabilized by the intercooler piping. For additional clearance, the ambient air temperature sensor needs to be removed from inside the bumper cover, and relocated onto the bumper wiring harness with zip ties.
To maximize efficiency and minimize heat soak, the intercooler discharge piping is kept as short as possible. Its aluminum construction also promotes superior heat dissipation over steel. The lower portion of the pipe attaches to the intercooler with a silicone hose, and also features a provision for the TiAL blow-off valve, which bolts up using a V-band clamp. If the blow-off valve is positioned too close to the MAF sensor, it can throw off the air metering and air/fuel mixture. Consequently, the ZL1 kit positions it 8 inches away from the MAF sensor.
The upper portion the intercooler discharge pipe connects the lower pipe to the throttle body with silicone couplers at each end. For ease of assembly, Zimmerman greases the insides of the couplers.
The first step in hooking up the intercooler inlet to the cold side of the turbo is installing an aluminum U-bend, which routes compressed air around the radiator. The clamps should be left fairly loose until finalizing the alignment of the pipes.
Since the compressor discharge side of the turbo is highly pressurized, the upper intercooler pipe attaches to it with a V-band clamp to ensure a leak-free seal. Lining it up with the lower discharge pipe can be a chore, so this step usually requires an extra set of hands.
When designing a turbo kit, there's an old adage that advises against out-thinking yourself, and that certainly applies to Fastlane's setup. The hot side piping routes exhaust from the factory passenger-side manifold into the turbo header on the driver side. Traditional wisdom says that exhaust should be routed off of each bank of cylinders separately before being merged together in front of the turbo. Nevertheless, Fastlane has tested both types of setups without seeing any difference in horsepower. The simplicity of the ZL1 kit helps reduce cost.
After attaching the crossover pipe to the stock exhaust manifold and Fastlane's turbo header, the next step is bolting the downpipe to the turbo exhaust outlet. Fastlane uses V-band clamps at all critical connections on the hot piping, which virtually eliminates leaks.
The TiAL wastegate regulates boost by bleeding off excess exhaust volume from the crossover pipe-before it reaches the turbo-then dumping it into the downpipe. Sections of strategically placed flex piping reduce stress at the joints as the motor torques over on its mounts.
The final piece of the puzzle on the exhaust side is a stainless steel Y-pipe that connects the downpipe to the factory mid-pipes in front of the catalytic converter. It necks down to 2.5 inches to maintain compatibility with the stock exhaust system.
The added weight of the turbo system compresses the driver side motor mount enough to cause interference issues between the steering shaft and the bulky 3.5-inch downpipe. Fastlane's solution is wedging a 3/8-inch thick spacer between the K-member and the motor mount for extra clearance.
According to Fastlane, the stock fuel pump flows well enough to support 580 rwhp. Optional is a dual in-tank pump (left) that allows cranking up the boost from 7 to 10 psi for an additional 50 hp. After dropping the tank, it mounts in place of the factory sending unit.
The new 60-lb/hr high impedance fuel injectors included with the kit are slightly taller than stock, so Fastlane includes a spacer that fits between the intake manifold and the fuel rail bracket. The bottom O-rings on the stock injectors are slightly thicker than on the replacement injectors, so they must be transferred over to prevent leaks.
The factory location of the A/C lines runs right next to the turbo, which means they'd melt in no time. To prevent this, the ZL1 kit includes a new A/C line with a U-bend that re-routes the hose behind the motor.
The flow of the factory PCV system assumes that ambient air pressure will be greater than the pressure inside the intake manifold. Consequently, adding forced induction to the mix will pressurize the crankcase. To prevent this, Fastlane caps off the port on the lifter valley cover, and adds a T-fitting to the vacuum port located behind the throttle body on the intake manifold. New hoses are then routed from the valve cover nipples to a catch can-provided by Fastlane-that bolts to the driver-side shock tower. A breather on the oil filler provides fresh air to the crankcase, and the catch can captures any oil that might leak out of the valve covers.
The T-fitting plumbed into the vacuum port of the intake manifold serves two purposes. One end of it attaches to the blow-off valve while the other end connects to the wastegate, since both must have an accurate manifold signal to function properly. All vacuum hoses are included with the ZL1 kit.
Although big changes in boost are a no-no without reprogramming the computer, a Turbo XS manual boost controller does allow for minor variations in adjustability and power. It works by tapping into the vacuum line that runs from the intake manifold to the wastegate. By manipulating the signal that the wastegate sees, it can summon up additional boost.
Fastlane's ZL1 turbo kit boasts excellent fit and finish, and doesn't require hacking up the car in any way. The finished product is super clean and looks like GM installed the BorgWarner 72mm turbo at the factory.
The Camaro that this particular turbo kit was installed on during our visit to Fastlane packs a forged 408ci short-block topped with stock L92/L99 heads. Its beefy rotating assembly and 9.5:1 compression allowed turning up the boost to 11 psi, which is good for 687 hp and 673 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels on pump gas. And that's through an automatic trans. After dyno tuning the motor, the inner bumper support and bumper cover were reinstalled.
Even with a power-sapping 6-speed automatic trans, the ZL1 turbo kit lays down nearly 530 hp and 585 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels with a stock motor. Manual trans cars put out 50 hp more. Included with every turbo kit is a custom dyno tune using EFI Live software. For pump gas compatibility and to ensure long piston life, Fastlane dials back the timing from the stock 28 degrees of advance down to 12 degrees. If the stock pistons could handle it, which they can't, bumping up the timing to 17 degrees would be worth an extra 70 hp. For mail order customers, Fastlane sends out a custom computer program that can be loaded up with an SCT tuner.
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