Diehard Ford fans seldom blend with Chevy fans, never moving over from the dark side. Not to mention, if their job consists of working on supercharged Mustangs and beastly kit cars like the Superformance GT40 or Daytona Coupe, a typical six-cylinder Camaro may be written off as just plain slow. You see, Hillbank Motor Sports, operating out of the Southern California city of Irvine, is known for a variety of high-performance automotive products, finely finished production-grade kit cars, and supercharged Fords. An employee with an open mind, Michael Doscher, wanted expand the company’s market to include Chevy products and applications, instead of just F-cars. Thankfully, Michael is not one of those close-minded Ford guys; instead, he’s driven to expand the company’s performance outlook. Michael decided to pick up a 2010, manual, Camaro RS, with the 3.6-liter six-cylinder power plant. He thought Hillbank Motor Sports could simply use the Camaro as a company show-type project car, thus, not opting for an eight-cylinder. Starting out with the show car scheme, the RS is painted in that eye catching “Synergy Green,” with a matching green and black leather interior. This Camaro is going to be a great garage princess! -Said no fifth-gen owner, ever. Since the company deals with supercharged cars for a living, some foreshadowing may indicate what is going to happen next.
With big-horsepower experience, Michael and the team at Hillbank Motor Sports quickly discarded the designated Camaro show-car only idea, for a full on Ford versus Chevy project. Now would probably be a good time to tell you that Michael frequents high-performance driving events when he is not working. What a perfect way to compare company Mustangs and this new Camaro? Capitalizing on that very opportunity, placing the Camaro in a direct line of competition with his pretty steeds, the run of the mill 3.6-liter was thrown into the fast lane to be upgraded, sooner rather than later. Before the blink of an eye, an IPF Vortech V3 supercharger was mounted up, totaling a more respectable 435-horsepower and 373-pound-feet of torque, at 7-pounds of boost, connected to an air-to-air Mishimoto intercooler. Thankfully, Hillbank didn’t stop at the supercharger. The power-adder was just the beginning for the pony stomping, now enriched, fifth-gen. The pleasant-sounding synergy continues with American Racing long-tube headers, combined with a not so mellow Magnaflow cat-back exhaust. All of the performance upgrades improve straight-line speed, but remember, Michael is a track guy. While the harmoniously working fifth-gen is fast, the green machine Mustang stalker must handle too!
The added horsepower from the supercharger quickly transformed the fellas from Irvine into fifth-gen Camaro fans. “We knew that the Camaro was back and here to say,” says Michael. Since we mentioned that Michael is an active member of multiple high performance driving clubs, how could you blame him with access to a multitude of tractable rides at his fingertips, simple straight-line speed is not enough. Any seasoned track guy will tell you, setup is key. On the same page, Michael was obviously in a time attack track mindset because his next plan was to get rid of the stock-sloppy suspension components, replacing them with solid, beefier versions. Improving the handling characteristics and ride height are components from a few different companies, starting with the KW V3 coil overs. Next, Hotchkis Race Bars were swapped in; along with strut and chassis braces. Crowds of Whiteline components came next; rod bushings, lower control arms, toe, cradle, and differential bushings were also swapped in. Michael’s track oriented thought process has him also including a power steering cooler, keeping everything in check for those demanding track conditions. Speaking of track conditions, the more grip, the better. The sticky T888 Toyo 285s coupled with those suspension parts get rid of some under steer, and the wider rear 315s do the same for excess over steer. The Toyo’s wrap the fender filling 20-inch TSW Interlagos wheels, adding to the more aggressive look. Also adding some exterior styling is a ZL1 front bumper, Trucarbon ram-air hood, and Classic Design Concepts Havoc rear spoiler, diffuser, and side skirts.
Going from zero to 100-miles per hour is the easy part, but pulling on the reins and stopping all that momentum can often be a challenge, repeated over and over on a track. The Camaro was going to require an aftermarket brake package, to survive in an anti-brake fade environment. In the driver’s seat, Michael doesn’t have think twice about standing on the brakes, thanks to the Wilwood W6A 6-piston front, 4-piston rear big brake kit, spinning 14-inch rotors all around. All of the suspension and brake upgrades seem to work perfectly together, providing a reliable, top-notch track experience for Michael. In fact, he says the personalized track monster is “one of the best handling cars we have built.” Considering the context, coming from a motor sports enthusiast, supercharged Mustang builder, and kit car extraordinaire, that quote can be respected.
Since the initial build, Michael and the guys at Hillbank Motor Sports have actively driven the Synergy supercharged Camaro at multiple club and time attack events because simply building a ride is not enough. Obviously, each track will have a slightly different suspension sweet spot, and Michael says, “we set the car to be a neutral as possible with the tires, and we have to run our bars as stiff as possible to keep the car cutting in.” Willow Springs, Button Willow, and Auto Club Speedway are often frequented by Michael, due to their relatively close proximity to the shop. He continues to explain, “I have personally put over 150-hours of labor into setting our car up for various tracks around here, in Southern California.” After dialing in the suspension setup one day at Willow Springs, Michael claims to have posted up a super-fast 1:34.8 lap. Not too shabby, considering a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder finishes a lap at around the 1:34.32 mark. Just for reference, and keeping with the whole Mustang competition, a Shelby GT500 made it around in 1:36.80. It would be safe to say that Michael squeezed the most out of the supercharged V-6 Camaro that day!
Sitting down after those intense track days, and taking a second to look back at how it started, Michael says, “Our intention was to build a show car, but it evolved into a full competition with the Mustangs. We were able to take our V-6 Camaro and put it against our supercharged Mustangs, and win!” The build was a success, and worthwhile in the long run for Hillbank. The resulting pony stomping Camaro should be viewed in two different ways. First of all, something should be said for a Ford guy taking a step out of his comfort zone, and giving a Camaro a chance. A lot of guys would simply look the other way. While the ‘Stangs may have the horsepower, it’s not all about going straight sometimes, just look at that lap time. Second of all, not only is the Camaro given a chance to beat up on some stallions, it contains a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, albeit supercharged, but it perfectly illustrates the potential of a six. Michael says, “I always tell people if the Camaro is out, we’re not driving, we’re hunting for those big V8’s.” You can clearly feel the excitement through his words. Absorbing the entire story, use Michael as an example, and take a step out of your comfort zone, enjoying a different perspective for a change. While not suggesting a major brand change, a simple ride-along may be all that is needed to either confirm a preconceived notion about a competitor, or deny it.
|Engine||3.6-liter V-6, 11.3:1 compression|
|Power Adder||IPF Vortech V3 Supercharger, Mishimoto Intercooler, 7lbs boost|
|Fuel System||Stock injectors|
|Engine Management||Stock, tuned by IPF Tuning|
|Exhaust System||American Racing long-tube headers, 2.5-inch Magnaflow cat-back|
|Driveline||Aisin AY6 six-speed manual, bronze solid puck clutch|
|Suspension||Whiteline rod bushings, trailing arms, subframe bushings, differential bushings, Hotchkis sway bars front and rear, KW V3’s|
|Brakes||Wilwood W6A 6 piston 14-inch rotor front and 4-piston rear|
|Wheels||TSW Interlagos, 20x9 front, 20x10.5 rear|
|Tires||R888 Toyo 285/35/20 front, 315/30/20 rear|
|ET/MPH||1:34.8 @ Willow Springs|