Fifth-Gen Chevy Camaro - Transformed

An action flick provoked Erik Cederberg to hop up GM’s latest muscle car

Robert McGaffin Sep 1, 2012 0 Comment(s)
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Like so many auto enthusiasts, chasing horsepower and overall performance is a constant. Take Erik Cederberg, a Swedish transplant now living in Miami, Florida, for instance. His former list of “toys” include a few Mustangs and Corvettes, even a 500hp Viper-powered truck, but he was in the market for something new. “The movie Transformers piqued my interest in the Camaro concept, but I wasn’t 100 percent sold on it until I saw it in person,” remembers Erik. “I looked at the new Mustang 5.0, Challenger SRT-8, and others, but they were either too slow, too heavy, or just plain boring to me.”

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In late 2009, while on the way home from catching a movie, he and his wife happened to drive by a Chevrolet dealership and couldn’t help but notice a couple of new Camaros on the showroom floor. “My wife took particular interest in a black one with the GFX body kit. It had the manual transmission and no sunroof—exactly what I was looking for,” remembers Eirk. “We ended up buying it right then and there.”

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A little background on Erik: he’s an avid road racer and autocross fanatic, so having a car that’s fast and handles well is of utmost importance; especially the handling part. Erik is also the owner of Torq, a shop specializing in dyno tuning and installing high-performance parts for late-model cars and trucks, in Miramar, Florida.

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Since the new Camaro would be Torq’s latest calling card, it had to do everything great. Actually, this thing would have to be better than great. It would have to be outstanding while being able to handle the long-term effects of hard miles related to road racing, autocross, and hundreds of quarter-mile blasts.

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With all that in mind, Erik was anxious to get cracking on the upgrades. But before getting started, some dyno testing was in order. He also wanted to hang the car out at Homestead Miami Speedway for some track time so he could obtain a bit of feedback on the car’s handling ability in stock form. “I was actually surprised with how well the car did, but there were definitely some areas that needed addressing in order to prove itself as a true handling machine.”

With baseline testing done, the first task at hand was to beef up the stock LS3. Erik started by installing a set of Torq Stage 1 aluminum heads. For a bit more “salsa” in the higher rpm range, a Torq “Roadrace” custom grind replaced the stock cam, but for now Erik is keeping specs on the “down low.”

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A FAST 102mm LSXR intake gobbles up atmosphere fed by an LSR Performance air filter. Customized Katech cast-aluminum valve covers adorned with the Torq logo dress the otherwise blasé scene. The nifty coil relocation kit—that’s also by Katech.

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Kooks 17/8-inch headers exit into an MBRP stainless X-pipe exhaust and 3-inch mufflers. The sound is ruthless under hard acceleration, but docile enough for street cruising; a bonus as Erik passed on the extra girth of heavy sound equipment. For this ride, amps and subwoofers are an unnecessary weight gain to an already swollen hot rod.

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Erik’s not the first to initiate the LS3’s ability to ignite with a head and cam swap, but with the addition of long-tubes, the Torq machine wakes up to the tune of 475 hp and 419 lb-ft to the tires. The added beef would easily melt the stock clutch so a Katech ZR1 twin-disc was called upon to handle the increased power affair.

With the horsepower perked up, the suspension was next on the “hit list.” “I wanted a well-balanced, daily driven spec monster that could turn amazing times at the track and also be a reliable car I’d be able to drive across the country in comfort.”

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Pfadt Race Engineering was quick out of the gate in developing suspension parts for the new Camaro, so Erik started off with their springs and sway bar kit. A vast improvement over stock, the next phase included Pfadt adjustable coilover shocks, trailing arms, adjustable toe links, spherical control arm bushings, and camber plates—also adjustable.

Erik upgraded the stock Brembos to their six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors up front, with four-piston calipers and 14.25-inch rotors out back.

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Forgeline GA3R 20x10 rollers reside up front, with a very similar scenario—only an inch deeper—take up residence out back. The satin centers and gloss black outer hoops ensure the car retains its sinister appearance. It’s a stealthy approach among those vying to keep somewhat under the radar.

In order to retain street cred along with the ability to compete in multiple driving events (most street driving competitions require 200 or higher treadwear rating), Nitto NT05s on all four corners (275/40-20 front, 315/35-20 rear) provides ample grip for most any situation at hand.

“To this day, I am running this exact setup and have gotten more class wins at autocrosses and road courses than any street-driven fifth-gen Camaro in the country,” informs Erik. “And at the 2010 Camaro Performers Duel in the Desert, held in Chandler, Arizona, I took quickest autocross time.”

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Erik also racked up a podium finish at the Camaro5 Fest II, quickest fifth-gen at LSFest I and II, but what’s most amazing are the hundreds of dyno pulls and quarter-mile passes the car has endured without issues. Add in the 30 or more standing-mile events and several trips across the country; this car has racked up over 50,000 miles. And those aren’t your average “Driving Miss Daisy” miles, either. We’re talking miles more abusive than all of Mel Gibson’s verbal phone tirades put together.

Those efforts and high-ranking track finishes got Erik and the car he calls “Cammedmaro” an invitation to the 2011 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational held in Pahrump, Nevada. “I had my fingers crossed that I would be able to take the car to SEMA and be invited to run at the OUSCI. I was so excited when I got the call. It made all the hard work an effort totally worthwhile,” recalls Erik.

Being this event is considered the ultimate benchmark as to where a car stands against the best of the best in the muscle car world, Erik should be proud he finished in the top half on the autocross and 25th on the road course portion of the event—an outstanding achievement when considering most of cars in the competition were much lighter and carried more horsepower under the hood.

“I’m just happy I got the opportunity to compete in such a great event,” recalls Erik. “Hopefully I’ll get an invitation again next year, only this time I’ll be in a car armed with a bunch more horsepower.”

With this SS sorted out in both the horsepower and handling department, the only thing representing the aftermarket interior-wise is the MGW short-throw shifter. Gauges, seats, carpet, and seatbelts are all GM original equipment.

With the exterior also falling along the theme of the stock offerings, only a GM Heritage grille and ground effects package made the cut. Ace Sullins handled the prep and paint for a uniform match to GM’s black pigment.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Paul Meister for doing an outstanding tuning job, and also to Mark Hoffman for taking care of the engine upgrades and performance parts installation,” said Erik. “I also have to thank my wife for choosing the car, and Aaron Pfadt for all his help with the suspension.”

Regardless if it was a fictional movie character that prompted Erik to dive head first into the late-model Camaro world, or if it was the influence of his wife, Helena, who first laid eyes on that black SS, he always gets a kick out of giving M3s and 911s a run for their money.

We asked Erik if given the opportunity to do it all over again would he do anything different. His response: “I’d drop in an LS7 right off the bat.”

Now that would really give those unsuspecting Beemer and Porsche types a run for their money…

“And those aren’t your average “Driving Miss Daisy” miles, either. We’re talking miles more abusive than all of Mel Gibson’s verbal phone tirades put together.”

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