Perhaps it's just a coincidence but, as the first Camaro built during the Government Motors era, the fifth-gen has developed a voracious appetite for excess. Unlike the Fed's penchant for piling up IOUs, however, fifth-gens are racking up horsepower and knocking down performance milestones at an absurdly brisk pace. Less than six months after the '10 Camaro debuted they were already running 10s, and the 9-second barrier was shattered before the 2011 models were even on the delivery trucks. In the walk of fifth-gens, 500-plus rear-wheel horsepower street beasts are already quite common, and Mike Whitestone's LS7-powered '10 SS is one of them. Not only does its 457ci small-block belch out 700 hp, it does so with near-stock driveability while delivering 26 mpg. Now that's what you call progress. As the owner of G-Force Motorsports (www.gforce-tx.com), Mike's partially responsible for this explosive fifth-gen arms race, and his car represents a very deliberate exercise in fully exploiting the new Camaro's potential.
Like many late-model aficionados, Mike grew up around L98s and LT1s rather than fuelie and Rat motors. As the streets of Houston began asserting themselves as the unofficial epicenter of the GM EFI scene in the late '90s, Mike got in on the action with a '96 Impala SS. Strapped with a 409ci stroker LT1, the big B-body ran 10.90s in the quarter-mile on spray and victimized loads of unassuming street thugs along the way. Between these sordid exploits, Mike mastered the art of fine-tuning finicky engine management computers, and fellow racers began soliciting his services for their cars. Before long, his hobby turned into a full-time business and Mike and his buddy Jay Schuster opened up G-Force Motorsports in Pearland, Texas. Although the shop also builds late-model Mustangs and Chryslers, LS-powered GM vehicles are its specialty. So when spy photos of the '10 Camaro started popping up all over the Internet, Mike knew he had to get one. "We had a hunch that the fifth-gen was going to be real popular and we wanted to know it inside and out by testing out mods on our own car instead of using customer cars as guinea pigs. It took several months of sitting on a waiting list to get the car but, once we did, it didn't stay stock for long," Mike says.
Almost immediately after taking delivery of his new Camaro, Mike threw every bolt-on at the stock LS3 he could find. It was now time to get serious, and he hatched a sinister plan that had been in the works for well over a year. "GM brought out an LS7-powered fifth-gen prototype to SEMA one year and it served as the inspiration behind this build," he says. "We wanted to make as much power as a blower car on motor, so big cubic inches were a must. It's easy to cam the heck out of a motor and make big power but cars like that are a pain to drive around town. Our goal is to make lots of power while retaining stock-like driveability. We call it adult horsepower."
Since fifth-gens weigh nearly two tons from the factory, Mike pulled a C5R aluminum block out of an Impala that was in the shop in order to minimize mass. It was bored to 4.135 inches and its long cylinder sleeves enabled lengthening the stroke to 4.250 inches with a Callies steel crank. It swings a set of Callies rods and custom Wiseco 11.4:1 forged pistons. To feed the hungry 457ci short-block, Mike scored a sweet deal on a set of LS7 heads that came off a customer's Corvette Z06. After some mild port work by West Coast Cylinder Heads, the LS7 castings flowed an outstanding 400 cfm. Matched with a relatively mild COMP 243/254-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam and a ported LS7 intake manifold, the combo rips out 700 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque.
Just as impressive is the fact that the big LS7 produces 530 lb-ft at just 2,500 rpm. "We could easily pick up another 30-40 hp with a bigger cam, but the compromise in driveability wouldn't be worth it," Mike says. "The motor peaks at a very reasonable 6,200 rpm, and it carries most of it all the way to 6,600 before the power starts dropping off. This car is so tame our customers' wives have no problem jumping in it and driving it around town. The stock clutch has held up remarkably well, so its light pedal and smooth take-up make the driving experience even more enjoyable. It even gets 26 mpg on the freeway."
As anyone who has driven a fifth-gen can attest, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the car is how well sorted the chassis and brakes are from the factory. Tacking on hundreds of extra horsepower doesn't adversely affect the Camaro's impeccable handling balance the least bit and, as such, Mike didn't mess around with the suspension much at all. Other than a set of Eibach lowering springs, the suspension is completely stock. Forgestar F-14 wheels, measuring 20x9 up front and 22x11 in the rear, add some flash and extra contact patch without looking too over-the-top.
Not one to sit idle on his achievements, Mike is already planning his next move. He's salivating over the upcoming launch of the factory-blown fifth-gen Z28 and, if things go according to plan, he'll be the owner of the most powerful production Camaro ever built in the near future. "You have to keep moving on to the newest platforms to stay on top in the LS market and once the Z28 comes out we're going to do this all over again," he says. Of course, the real beneficiaries in all this are the legions of dedicated fifth-gen owners already out there. The Camaro has reached hallowed performance milestones quicker than any other new car platform in memory and, as long as people like Mike keep "practicing" on the latest and greatest the General has to offer, things aren't going to slow down any time soon.
Owner: Mike Whitestone - Pearland, Texas
Vehicle: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Type: GM LS7
Displacement: 457 ci
Compression Ratio: 11.4:1
Bore: 4.135 inches
Stroke: 4.250 inchesv Cylinder Heads: Factory LS7 rectangular-port castings ported to 400 cfm by West Coast Cylinder Heads
Rotating Assembly: Callies steel
crankshaft and 6.125-inch connecting rods; Wiseco pistons
Pushrods: COMP Cams
Camshaft: COMP 243/254-at-0.050 hydraulic roller; .660/.660-inch lift; 115-degree LSA
Intake: Factory LS7 intake manifold, Rotofab cold-air induction system
Fuel System: Stock
Ignition: Stock coils, MSD plug wires
Exhaust: Kooks 2.00-inch long-tube headers and dual 3-inch mufflers; custom X-pipe and high-flow catalytic converters
Output: 700 hp at 6,200 rpm and 626 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm
Built By: HK Racing Engines (Houston, TX)
Final Tune: Factory PCM tuned by G-Force Motorsports
Transmission: Tremec TR6060 trans, stock LS7 clutch, Hurst shifters
Rear Axle: Stock GM multi-link independent rear suspension
Front Suspension: Stock with Eibach springs
Rear Suspension: Stock with Eibach springs
Brakes: Factory 14-inch rotors and Brembo four-piston calipers, front; 14.4-inch rotors and Brembo four-piston calipers, rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Forgestar F-14 20x9, front; 22x11, rear
Tires: Pirelli 275/40-20, front; 305/55-22, rear
Paint: GM Black