We’ve been working on getting our own fifth-gen Camaro project in-house for some time now, and the day is finally upon us. With a little help from the good folks at GM, we picked up a 2012 1SS locally with the intent to modify it to the hilt and turn some heads in the process. I’d be lying if I said the process was any easier for us, but with a lot of head banging and hair pulling, we eventually drove home in this black on black Camaro, which sported only two options—a Hurst shifter and sunroof. The sunroof was not our first choice, but pickings were slim at the end of the model year and we were too pressed for time to wait for the 2013. Thus our project will forever give us issues with headroom while wearing a helmet, lest we figure out a creative solution. But I digress… The stripped down, manual trans 1SS is to be the basis of a badass build that will leave no bolt unturned over the next few years. Thankfully we have some amazing sponsors—namely ProCharger and Weld Racing—that are going to ensure this Camaro is capable of the performance befitting a GM High-Tech Performance project.
Before we begin tearing into the stock LS3 engine or the FE4 suspension, though, we would need to establish some baseline numbers. As always, we headed to the recently renamed Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Florida for hot laps on the road course and a few passes on the drag strip. While we have had quite a few fifth-gens on the road course in Gainesville, this was our first go with the new FE4 suspension design. Even when modified, the previous FE3 was comparatively less connected and less predictable. The FE4 suspension really inspires confidence, and makes the car feel more firm and solid in its stance. You can even notice the difference going over speed bumps and typical road moguls. At the end of the day, our SS project set of one of the fastest laps we’ve ever recorded with a fifth-gen and even a pretty respectable low 13-second pass on the drag strip. This was indeed an auspicious beginning, and we can’t wait to push this Camaro’s capabilities even further.