There seems to be a common bond between fourth-gen Camaro owners. They all want to run 12.50s in the quarter-mile, get 24 mpg, and make long trips to shows or races all without mechanical mishaps. Sounds easy enough, right? And it pretty much is with the right motor. Even somewhat modified, most any LS engine can withstand the rigors of low-idle everyday driving, a good beating at the drag strip or autocross, and still get you home without issue. Back in the day (whenever "the day" was), that wasn’t always the case if you wanted to go fast, but with today’s fuel-injected engines, that scenario is pretty much the standard scene.
“I just love the LS motor and six-speed combination,” said Dennis Causey, owner of this ’99 SS. “I’m also a big fan of the SS hood and rear spoiler on these cars.”
What’s not to love? Any car that you can take out to the drags, get down solidly in the 12s, while looking good doing it, and then promptly drive home in, is what hot rodding fun is all about. But this here F-body didn’t start out all so fantastic when Dennis purchased it a little over four years ago.
“I bought the car from a small lot near my home in Camby, Indiana,” reports Dennis. “It was in pretty poor shape. The paint was carwash swirled and sort of gray looking. The previous owner had installed cheap ground effects, and it even came with neon lights. There was also a poorly applied red pinstripe going across the car. What made it even worse was that the ‘Camaro’ insert on the rear panel was painted red and obviously done with a paintbrush. It just looked bad.”
So aesthetically, the worthy F-body was in for some much-needed extra attention. Dennis was able to wet-sand the paint and stripes to bring some life back to the exterior. Needless to say, the ground effects and neon lights were excused from the upgrade process.
Although the interior was in nice condition, the same couldn’t be said for the worn brakes, clutch, and tires. Due to the fact that Dennis is more of a hot rodder than a standard-equipment kind of guy, he took the opportunity to upgrade the inadequate drivetrain parts with better stuff. He knew the LS in the car had lived a hard life, so he dug in and upgraded the heads with 243 LS6 heads, which he ported himself. LS6 yellow valve springs, LS2 timing chain, LS6 oil pump, GM Hot Cam, ported throttle body, and ported mass air flow all found their way in replacement of the stock components. Red powdercoated valve covers add some additional pizzazz in the engine bay. Still not done, Dennis knew the shortcomings of the stock shifting components so he upgraded to an LS7 clutch and all-new GM hydraulics with carbon-fiber synchros, steel 3-4 shift fork, bronze fork pads, and all new bearings. Now the Camaro was ready for some track action with much less chance of failure.
An SLP air box sucks in atmosphere while cylinder waste makes its way through a set of Hooker ceramic-coated Super Comp 1 3/4-inch headers, which promptly dump into a Hooker Y 3-inch exhaust system slightly sound-doused by 3-inch Flowmaster mufflers.
Although the suspension remains stock, Dennis added a bit of personalized exterior flavor with a set of 17x9-inch chrome ZR1 wheels on all four corners. Fuzion ZR1 rubber, sized 275/40-R17, make positive there’s plenty of road-gripping bite.
From the day Dennis rolled the car out of that tiny dealer lot, to the condition you see here, only took about six months time. It goes to show that fourth-gen muscle is an easy fix for the horsepower addicted, and with a little elbow grease and a few mild upgrades, it's easy to get into the late-model hot rod scene.
Every hot rodder has certain experiences that make doing this all worthwhile, and Dennis is no exception. “For me, the time spent driving along with my son and his Camaro (Damon Causey’s ’98 Camaro appeared in the April ’11 issue on page 92) is what makes this hobby so cool,” said Dennis. “We spend a lot of time together hitting shows and the drags during the summer months, and even local car shows when weather permits. It’s all about having a good time.”
And if a good time means running 12s and getting 24 mpg, then Dennis Causey is having a blast.