2001 Chevrolet Camaro SS - True Grit

A true 9.0-second, street-driven, single-turbo Camaro built with a careful selection of quality parts and a real-world budget

Justin Cesler Aug 27, 2013 0 Comment(s)
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Oh look, another high-dollar turbo LS1 that runs low nines… How original. When will we stop writing about sponsor-built trailer queens with 50-grand under the hood, custom turbo kits TIG welded by pros, and unlimited testing, tuning, and track time to run these numbers?! How about right now, because Dave Fjeldheim's '01 SS Camaro is neither a trailer queen nor a high-dollar build, and it's something that anyone with enough motivation could build given the time and determination to see the project through. "I'm just a truck driver with an obsessive passion for cars. I get a vision of what I want and how I want it to look and perform, and I fixate on it and find a way to get it done on my meager 11-dollar an hour income. And that's after a raise I got in January!"

If a hard working truck driver making 11 bucks an hour can go 9.06 at 152 mph, we should all be able to make a decent go at the 10s, but it takes much more than just effort to do this on a modest budget. For Dave, it meant buying a decently modified used project, adding in a mix of new and used parts, and getting all of his friends to pitch in whenever they could. Dave actually purchased the car off of an ad he found on LS1Tech, and while the combination wasn't exactly what he ultimately wanted, it was close enough to get him started. For the money, and a quick 625-mile two-day trip, Dave ended up with a stout '01 SS running a Texas Speed-built 402, a set of Trick Flow heads, a built 4L60E transmission, a 9-inch rear, and a well sorted suspension. The previous owner told Dave that it should run 10.84s on motor and Dave managed a 10.86 on his third pass (driving it there and back, almost 20 mpg the whole way), which was a great start.

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Keeping the Camaro as delivered wasn't going to work out, so Dave started making some major moves almost immediately. Selling off the included nitrous kit was the first step. With some of the money from the sale, and some of his own hard earned cash, Dave was able to purchase a PA Racing K-member, along with a ton of Midwest Chassis rear suspension bits to keep the Camaro planted on the track. The wheels and tires were next on the chopping block, replaced with a beautiful set of Weld Alumastars up front and Weld RT-S S71 wheels out back, which wear M/T slicks on the track and drag radials for street use. The 9-inch went the way of the nitrous system, sold to fund an upgrade to a 6-inch narrowed (3-inches per side) Midwest Chassis fabricated 9-inch rear that was stuffed with a Strange aluminum third member (3.70 gears) and 35-spline axles. These changes were good enough to shave almost half a second off of Dave's track times, dipping the all-motor Camaro into the 10.30s at 128 miles an hour with a killer 1.37-second sixty on drag radials.

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And then my friends, it was time for the turbo kit. "I'd never done anything of this magnitude before, but figured anything I *$%&# up I could have fixed. So, I dug in with the cutoff wheel and got myself to the point of no return, which got me committed to finishing this build." Dave, as you should have figured by now, bought a used KYTP truck manifold system online and thought it would be a bolt-on and ride affair, only to find out that it was not, in fact, a bolt-on system. Truth be told, the system had been "drastically altered" from the original design and almost nothing fit the way it should.

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Instead of giving up, Dave just worked harder and got friends like Phil, Miles, DJ, Ryan, Robert, Eric, and many others, including his girlfriend Angie and his sons, Davin and Dillan, to pitch in and make everything work. Up front, a massive T6 based 47-88 would act as the heart of turbo system, which unfortunately took up the area where the radiator and core support was supposed to go. "This was about the time where I began to scratch my head and think WTF?! This can't be right! There is no F'n way the radiator is going to fit where it's supposed to go!" And so, David cut the front end off of his beloved Camaro, installed a stand up radiator, hoodpins, and a new boxed core support to make his dream come true. Twin wastegates took up spots in the hot-side merge, with a 5-inch stepped downpipe moving exhaust towards the concrete. Compressed air would be routed through an eBay sourced air-to-air intercooler using 3-inch tubing on the compressor side and 4-inch piping to the throttle body.

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Dave also swapped the top end of the motor during the build, ditching the aftermarket heads for a set of 317-casting truck units, which matched up nicely with his new Brute Speed "blower cam." The old heads and intake were sold off to fund the purchase of a new Edelbrock Victor Jr., which Dave topped with a 90mm Nick Williams throttle body on the end of a fabricated elbow to complete the turbo system. Finally, the 4L60E transmission was pulled in favor of a Craig Gibbs built TH400, and the entire Camaro was put back together for some testing. Key on, fuel pump primed, starter engaged, fired up and…dead. Key on, fire up, dead. That's a project for you…it's always something. Turns out it was a bad computer, but while Dave was out searching for a new one, he also decided to switch the Camaro over to E85 and traded boost controllers. Once a new PCM was located, Dave installed everything, put in a base tune-up for the 160 lb/hr injectors and turned the key. Boom, it ran!

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No time to book dyno runs or big tuners. Dave went straight to the track on the wastegate springs and made a pass. How's 9.70 at 141 mph on the very first pass sound? Second time out? Dave went a 9.16 at 144 running out of gear and letting off! Then he drove it home, changed the rear gears out, drove back to the track and busted out a 9.06 on his third outing, running as fast as 152 mph in the process, and finally drove back home without any issues. But Dave's not done yet; next up, he is looking for that 8-second pass… Not bad for a guy working at his own pace, with his own friends and family, and doing it all with used parts and a modest budget!

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Car: 2001 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Owner: Dave Fjeldheim
Block: GM LQ9, 402cid
Compression ratio: 10.2:1
Heads: GM 317-casting, 2.020 intake, 1.059 exhaust valves
Cam: Brute Speed hydraulic roller, 232/240 duration at .050, .595/.608 inches of lift, 115 LSA
Rocker arms: Harland Sharp, 1.7-ratio
Pistons: Diamond, forged
Rings: Total Seal
Crankshaft: Eagle, forged
Rods: Eagle, forged
Throttle body: Nick Williams 90mm
Fuel injectors: 160 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Magnafuel 725 in-line, Magnafuel regulator
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, NGK 9 plugs
Engine Management: Stock PCM, tuned by Speed Inc
Power Adder: modified KYTP single turbo kit, air-to-air intercooler
Turbocharger: Garrett 47-88
Wastegates: TiAL 44mm and Precision Turbo 46mm
Blow-off Valve: Turbosmart
Exhaust system: GM truck manifolds, 2.5-inch crossover, 5-inch downpipe, no muffler
Transmission: TH400, built by Craig Gibbs
Converter: FTI 9.5-inch, billet
Driveshaft: 3.5-inch, chrome moly
Front suspension: PA Racing K-member, upper and lower control arms, QA1 struts and springs, removed sway bar
Rear suspension: Midwest Chassis lower control arms, sway bar, torque arm, Panhard bar, Strange double adjustable shocks, stock springs, BMR subframe connectors
Rear end: Midwest Chassis 9-inch, 3.25 gear, 35-spline axles, Strange spool
Brakes: Strange drag front, dual caliper rear
Front wheels: Weld Alumastars 15x3.5
Rear wheels: Weld RT-S S71 15x10
Front tires: Mickey Thompson Front Runner
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson ET Drag 27x10.5/15 (track), Mickey Thompson ET Street 295/55/15 (street)
Fuel: E85
HP/TQ: 949/762 (at 22psi)
ET/MPH: 9.06/152
60-foot: 1.29


Dave Fjeldheim's '01 SS Camaro is neither a trailer queen nor a high-dollar build, and it's something that anyone with enough m...
Justin Cesler Aug 27, 2013


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