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2010 LS7 Gen V Camaro - Barely Legal

You’re looking at 782 hp worth of E-Force–supercharged LS7 engine in a fifth-gen Nickey Camaro

By Bob McClurg, Photography by The Author

Last Spring, Illinois resident Justin Wolf walked through the front door of Nickey Chicago with a copy of the March, 2010, Super Chevy magazine in hand and declared, "I want one of these," pointing to the article on Nickey Chicago's 2010 Stage-III, LS7-powered Gen-V Camaro prototype, "only make mine faster!"

Of course by that time, Wolf had Nickey Chicago CEO Stephano Bimbi's undivided attention. Ah, the power of the world's largest Chevy magazine.

"With Justin, the sky was the limit. His serialized build sequence would be NSC 10018," Bimbi says. "This would be the 18th Gen-V Camaro built by Nickey Chicago. In the course of filling out his 'want list,' Justin inadvertently christened the project when he commented, 'I want my Camaro to be so radical that it'll be barely legal.' "

And so began Nickey Chicago's laborious $85,000 Gen-V Camaro transformation project.

For openers, Nickey Chicago's engine builder, Wegner Automotive Research, took a standard 4.125-inch-bore, GM Performance Parts 427-cid LS7 block and fitted it with a 4.125-inch-stroke Callies crankshaft (for 441 cid), a set of Carrillo H-beam connecting rods, 10.5:1-compression JE pistons, and a Nickey Chicago/Competition Cams special-design cam. Other items included a GM Performance Parts LS7 high-volume oil pump, custom seven-quart oil pan, and Phadt solid motor mounts. A set of Wegner Automotive Researchûprepared GM L92 cylinder heads featuring 68cc combustion chambers, 2.165-inch-diameter stainless-steel Manley Proflow intake and 1.59-inch-diameter Manley Enconel exhaust valves, Competition Cams beehive valve springs, 1.7:1-ratio Competition Cams titanium roller rocker arms, Comp Cams pushrods, and Nickey Chicago CNC billet-aluminum valve covers with coil-on-plug coil-pack stands take care of the valvetrain.

Boost comes from one of Edelbrock Corporation's E-Force blowers at a street-friendly 10 psi of boost, working in conjunction with a set of Competition Cams 85 lb/hr fuel injectors and 92mm GM throttle body. This machine is also equipped with a Coolingmist-brand meth injection system utilizing two "CM10" high-atomization nozzles, which point directly into the Roto Fab cold-air intake. A meth-to-water-ratio of 60/40 is responsible for an additional 40 to 50 horsepower worth of tuning as well as keeping Wolf's blown LS7 safe from high intake temperatures. Ignition duties are handled by a GM coil-on-plug factory ignition lighting NGK spark plugs via a set of Nickey Chicago Super Duty 8mm spark-plug wires.

A Ram aluminum flywheel and 1-7/8-inch-diameter stainless-steel Nickey headers manufactured by American Racing Headers dump into a 3-inch exhaust system featuring an X-pipe and Borla stainless steel mufflers.

Prior to actual engine installation, Wegner Automotive Research conducted two dyno pulls, the first with Edelbrock's 3.5-inch-diameter E-Force "Big Pulley" and 21 degrees advance timing, and the second with 3-inch blower pulley and 18 degrees advance timing. Here are the numbers:

The Nickey/Borla exhaust also features electrically operated, inline, dual butterfly Nickey Chicago exhaust diverters. The Nickey-shifted, Tremec TR6060, six-speed manual transmission and a Ram dual-disc clutch complete Barely Legal's powertrain.

Of course, Nickey Chicago overhauled the platform to stand up to all that extra power. Updates include a complete Pfadt Racing Suspension system--front and rear coilover, four-way-adjustable shocks, front and rear Sport bars, solid billet-aluminum subframe bushings, plus a set of BMR Camaro subframe connectors. The IRS got a 3.73:1 Richmond Gear set, 1,400hp-rated Nickey Chicago billet rear axles, Nickey slotted and cross-drilled zinc-plated rotors, Hawk ceramic brake pads, Russell Performance stainless-steel brakelines, and 20x10 front and 20x11 rear three-piece, forged-center, Nickey five-spoke wheels. Tires are Nitto P315/40ZR drag radials out back and P275/40ZR Nitto Invos up front.

With that done, it was off to nearby Komet Motorsports where dyno technicians Kurt and Frank Kapusinski, Derrick Szyda, and programmer Corey Clayton (son of Jerry Clayton from Keeling & Clayton Top Fuel fame) strapped the Camaro onto Komet Motorsports' Mustang chassis dyno and produced 718 corrected rear-wheel hp at 6,600 rpm and 645 lb-ft of torque at 4,900.

Exterior treatments to this Cyber Gray Stage III-S were kept to a minimum. A Heritage grille from the General Motors parts bin, Nickey Chicago "Stinger-I" functional Ram-Air composite hood, MPDI rear spoiler, and dark-tinted windows get the job done.

On the inside, Barely Legal features embroidered Nickey-logo soft leather headrests and floormats, a special Nickey CNC-billet short-throw shifter, and custom billet Nickey gun-grip shifter handle fabricated by Barton Industries. A custom gauge pod is used on the side A-pillar, which houses 2-1/16-inch-diameter, AERO Force Interceptor, fully programmable analog gauges featuring a linear conversion table that can simultaneously monitor boost, air/fuel ratios, vacuum, MAP sensor activity, and so on.

Of course, the bane of every 2010-2011 Camaro owner is getting these IRS-equipped F-bodies to hook up. Weighing in at 3,900 pounds, Justin Wolf's new toy broke an idler pulley and still clocked an easy 12.62-119.65 the first time out at Gateway International Raceway. The following week at Great Lakes Drag-A-Way in Wisconsin, Barely Legal showed significant improvement with an 11.22-126.41, again on high-performance street radials.

Barely legal? Maybe. Incredibly streetable and fast? Definitely.

Test 1
679.2 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm @ 4.1 psig
717.1 hp @ 6,700 rpm @ 7.1 psig
Test 2
761 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm @ 6.9 psig
782.3 hp @ 6,500 rpm @ 9.8 psig

By Bob McClurg
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