Several months ago the HOT ROD staff took a look back at the first-drive review of the 1967 Camaro to see what then-Feature-Editor Eric Dahlquist thought of Chevrolet's entry into the pony car market. Dahlquist's article marked the introduction of the red 1967 Camaro SS that would be tested, modified, and tested again in the pages of HOT ROD magazine throughout 1967. It was the beginning of our relationship with Camaro that continues fifty years later, as the current HOT ROD staff is getting familiar with the sixth-generation Camaro.
In that initial article, written in late 1966, Dahlquist drove one of Chevrolet's early production 1967 SS Camaros into the mountains 100 miles east of Los Angeles, to Big Bear Lake. We decided we'd take the same trip, as an homage, with a bright red 2016 Camaro SS equipped with a 6-speed manual. We've already spent a good amount of time in factory 2016 Camaro coupes and convertibles, both 6-speed and 8-speed, so the bar had been set. And set high at that. Like just about everyone that had driven the 2016 Camaro SS, we were impressed with the car's new chassis, rev-matching 6-speed, quick-shifting 8-speed auto, and overall refinement. The difference with this road trip is that while Dalhquist's car was showroom-stock, ours has been significantly beefed up by Edelbrock. It's fitting too, as the very same car that was tested in HOT ROD fifty years ago wound up in the private collection of Vic Edelbrock Jr.
We picked the car up from Edelbrock's Torrance, California, headquarters where it has been the mule for their new E-Force supercharger package. The Edelbrock E-Force supercharger uses Eaton TVS 2300 rotors, the same rotor set used on the 640hp C6 ZR1, and the housing is based on the same intake flow path they developed for the LS3 used in previous generation Camaro and Corvette. The LT1 V8 marks the fifth generation of Chevrolet small-block V8, and debuted in the 2014 Corvette Stingray. That gave Edelbrock a head start in development of the Camaro's supercharger, as the intake casting and most of the hard parts were able to carry over. Working to ensure a safe but significant increase in horsepower, the E-Force boosts rear-wheel horsepower to 580.
Often when we drive vehicles from aftermarket companies so much of the car has been changed that they hardly feel like the version you'd find on the showroom floor. However, Edelbrock's E-Force supercharged Camaro feels just like any other 2016 Camaro SS, at least most of the time. The ride is firm but not jarring, the handling is quick but not twitchy, and the only reason it received a lot of attention on the road is because the sixth-generation Camaro is still quite new on the market. Even the exhaust is unchanged and is almost too civilized for our liking.
A testament to the E-Force supercharger's integration into the overall package, it's easy to forget it's there. There's no gear whine, there's no lag, and when you don't need it to make boost, it doesn't. When driving at part throttle, air is allowed through a bypass valve to reduce parasitic loss and boost efficiency. Cruising on a 50-mile stretch of highway uninterrupted by traffic, we managed to squeeze more than 20mpg from the Camaro, matching the economy we recorded on a stock 2016 SS manual.
Here's the thing though, it does make boost, and it's really good at it. Roll onto the throttle and the smooth-idling factory camshaft is no more rowdy than it ever was, it just feels like a much larger engine. That's exactly the beauty of boost. Powering up the mountain roads was no trouble, as the supercharger often made downshifts unnecessary. With the same amount of power to the wheels as the fifth-generation ZL1, but with a lower curb weight, the SS and E-Force combine to make a formidable grand touring machine. With no visible external modifications and no audibly discernable clues it makes the Camaro SS about as close as you can get to a sleeper in a V8 sports coupe
The Camaro passed the road test with flying colors, keeping cool making power at altitude and returning impressive fuel economy number to boot. There's still more testing to be done however, as this is HOT ROD after all. We've got plans to see what the E-Force can do at the dragstrip. The original test car threw down the gauntlet with a big-block-swapped 11-second timeslip back in 1967, and the only question now is how much quicker this Edelbrock test car will be.