For three years, although it really seemed like an eternity since GM announced the return of the Camaro, enthusiastic buyers have patiently waited to get their hands on one. For most it wasn't easy, for others the tease was unbearable.
Months went by while Camaro enthusiasts held their collective breath until GM introduced the concept car at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Once unvieled, Camaro loyalists unanimously applauded the crossbreed of retro style and late-model amenities. Design speculations and aesthetic uncertainties were put aside as GM's fifth-generation Camaro was wholeheartedly accepted by the Camaro faithful.
Fast forward three years, and fanatics were lining up to pre-order their '10 Camaro. Not only was the general public choosing their exterior colors and interior options, but aftermarket performance companies were also in the mix hoping to get their hands on one in order to develop and test-fit their products. With the vast availability of performance parts for Ford's latest generation of the Mustang, the GM aftermarket realized having product ready for the performance-hungry Camaro owners would be a proverbial home run.
John Hennessey is no stranger to upgrading late-model cars with sick horsepower but was on the fence on whether or not to have his company, Hennessey Performance Engineering, go through with development on a performance upgrade package for the '10 Camaro. That was until January 2009 when he released a couple of renderings depicting what a Hennessey Camaro would look like. Overwhelmingly positive response to the artwork from Camaro forum boards motivated John to move forward and take a more serious look into the project.
"We decided to offer the market a high-quality performance package. Something that GM might have done with the Z28 had they been able to build it," says John. "It was important that the package be reliable, driveable, 50-state legal, and retain a factory look and function."
This particular Hennessy hot rod is the first to feature the HPE550 upgrade package. The SS Camaro, originally motivated by a stock LS3, reaps the benefits of the HPE/Magnuson supercharger, high-flow fuel injectors, polished cold-air induction system, and a Corsa stainless steel cat-back exhaust system. The payoff is a horsepower rating of 562 ponies; up from 426 as sold from the dealer. Not that the '10 Camaro SS is a slacker in stock form, but bolting on a supercharger and a few other horsepower goodies tends to have a positive side effect for those seeking a little more zip in their ride.
Sidewall-challenged street tires don't offer the essential grip to tame the modern-day hot rod on the strip, so John strapped on a pair of drag radials in order to see what the car could do with a little "bite." The reward: 0-to-60 in 3.5 seconds and quarter-mile elapsed times of 11.7 seconds at 121 mph.
John realized the underhood boost would only be as useful as the handling capabilities of the fifth-gen, so an HPE/Pedders adjustable coilover suspension upgrade helps keep the Camaro glued in the corners. Hennessey's 20-inch two-piece alloy wheels reside on all four corners (9.5-inch front, 11-inch rear) and are meticulously wrapped in Pirelli rubber (275/40-20 front, 315/25-20 rear) for optimum look, feel, and performance.
The HPE aero package contains a slightly modest look as to not overpower the already-aggressive lines of the Camaro. The relationship between the stock body panels and HPE's subtle urethane front splitter, side rocker panels, and rear lip spoiler keep the '10 rooted to its modern-day muscle car theme. More retro inspiration comes by way of Hennessey's Yenko-ish rear quarter-panel graphics that tastefully work their way up to the front fenders. And if there is any question of what's in store for the unassuming competition, Hennessey's HPE550 exterior badges announce that serious business resides beneath the hood.
With a limited availability of only 500, the '10 HPE550 Camaro is sure to turn the head of most any hot rod enthusiast. And if the HPE550 upgrade package doesn't get your blood pressure off the charts, then check out Hennessey's top-shelf '10 HPE700; this monster comes complete with a tire-shredding 795hp 6.2L supercharged LS9. But you better hurry - only 24 of those bad boys are slated for production.
Toll Road With the '10 Camaro finally hitting the streets, the aftermarket will soon be flooded with every performance-enhancing part and billet widget you can think of. With that said, companies like Felser Built, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, and Nickey Chicago/Route 66 Motorsports are the early players that have already developed performance upgrade packages for GM's latest, and quite possibly most important hot rod. But make room, there's plenty more companies in the wings getting ready to bust out their high-performance interpretation of the '10 Camaro.
So far, performance levels generally vary from 550hp supercharger packages all the way up to LS9 engine transplants producing well over 650 hp.
How fast you want to go depends on your budget.
Got deep pockets? Then the sky's the limit.