There’s this cat in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Tommy Zondervan. A young guy with young ideas and what surely looks like the stones to back them up. Now that’s the chutzpah what we like to see in any endeavor.
So the new Camaro was set for a May ’09 release. Z pre-ordered a hood so he could be the first to market with a ram-air version. The Camaro finally came to life and within a few months Z came up with a chin spoiler, new emblems, rear diffuser, and even a smiley grille. He built a few cars for customers and then one for ’09 SEMA that featured several innovations for the fifth-gen market.
Zondervan was among those chosen by the Chevrolet Image Vehicle Team. His task was to design and build an ’11 Camaro SS/RS for the ’10 SEMA convention. This concept had to be different from all others, no slicks or cowl hood. It had to be a sleeper. Though a Mary Kay-pink Camaro concept probably wouldn’t lift an eyebrow, Z knew that his approach should be decidedly un-racy, upstanding rather than menacing, but altogether knock your socks off with its pancake hood and sleek, subdued lines.
“I wanted [the car] to really stand out and help Chevrolet gain more interest from consumers that do not think of the Camaro as a high-end sports car. This was the objective of the build. After talking with our team at Revolution, we decided to build the ultimate super Camaro,” said Z, just slightly out of breath. In this world of “hurry up and wait” the car was assembled in just eight days and “finished” about 72 hours before its Vegas debut.
The egg ready to be hard-boiled was an active fuel management L99 6.2-liter and the rush on the engine was a big one. Z wanted 1,000-flywheel horsepower and maybe he nearly got it. He farmed the work out to Victory Racing Engines in Detroit where the Victory crew assembled and developed the first top-mount twin-turbocharger package. The Turbonetics 63mm turbochargers push charge air through a Vibrant Performance intercooler core and operate with a maximum of 8 psi positive manifold pressure.
The machine work done at PSA Performance incorporated some real parts in the bottom end: cast crank swapped for Callies steel, hypereutectic slugs changed to slick Diamond 9.5:1 forgings (stock CR is 10.4:1), and Howards H-beam connecting rods. PSA equalized cylinder head runners, ports, and bowls via ubiquitous CNC but all hardware is original equipment. A Howards hydraulic roller, retainers, and springs work with Diamond pushrods. The fuel system collects around an OE LS3 intake manifold and a dual fuel pump unit from a ZR1 Corvette.
While Stainless Works supplied the basic material, Victory walked hand-in-hand with Revolution to develop a prototype that would keep tract length short thus exhaust velocity up. The primary pipes are 17/8 inches that blend into a 3-inch terminus and are fitted with flanges for the turbocharger. The 3-inch stainless system is all MagnaFlow that terminates in a pair of wicked looking four-stack stainless finishers. The custom engine cover is a Revolution perk; the engine dress-up is billet from Trent’s Trick Upholstery. When it was all done, no one bothered to test the enchilada, but Z feels that it’s worth 800 hp and 860 lb-ft at the wheels. Before the crate left for SEMA, PSA’s Cam and Mike tuned it to a velvet hammer.
With that much grunt ready to seethe, you would think that the drivetrain might be appreciative of a little moxie too. Well, maybe later. For now, the 6L80 six-speed automatic is having too much fun to worry about something as silly as staying intact. Same goes for the axle; it maintains 3.45:1 gears, a positive traction differential, and the OE halfshafts and ends. The truth on this, we surmise, is the power of the cosmetics. The XS Concept Camaro is a call-out, an advertising tool that gets its point across just sitting still.