Ever since the fifth-gen Camaro hit the streets in mid-2009, a good number of its attractors seem to share a common denominator: they've all owned or had an affinity for the first-gen Camaro at one point in their lives. We don't know if it has to do with the fifth-gen's muscle car styling cues being borrowed from its much older brother from the late-'60s or not, but with the modern SS packing 426 ponies under the hood, horsepower certainly wasn't a detractor.
Even in his formative driving years, Bruce Raymond has been one of those guys who have always had a Camaro of some sort in the garage. He started out with a big-block–powered '67 (one he wishes he still had) and went through a plethora of other model year F-bodies. Up until recently he had been racing an '84 Camaro in the NASA Great Lake Region, even winning the TTA Championship in 2010. It's safe to say the Plainfield, Indiana, performance shop owner is a Camaro enthusiast through and through.
"When I got word that Chevy was coming out with a new '10 Camaro a few years ago, I was all in," mentioned Bruce.
And like so many of us hopeless hot rodders, when purchasing a new car our first thought is to leave the thing alone. Racing it is absolutely out of the question.
"This will only be my ‘fun car' specifically dedicated for cruising to the shop and home," confirmed Bruce. Yeah, right! "I told myself I wasn't going to do anything to upgrade this car, but once I started looking it over, I figured a few bolt-on mods couldn't do much harm …"
Being a shop owner has its benefits, and depending on how you look at it, you just know any SS/RS within reach is hardly safe from tampering, especially if it's one of his own.
With those nonsensical ideas of keeping the car stock lost in the past, Bruce has since upgraded the engine, suspension, and everything else he felt would make the car faster – straight line or cornering.
Starting under the hood, Raymond's Performance lead tech Eric Pitts took the basically stock LS3 and topped it with a Magnuson TVS 2300 supercharger and set it at 8 psi of boost. To answer the call for more fuel, 65-lb injectors and a ZL1 fuel pump joined the mix. Air streams through a Roto-Fab cold-air intake while Kooks 1 7⁄8-inch stainless long-tubes and high-flow cats offer minimal resistance in creating an exit path into MBRP 3-inch X-pipe exhaust and muffler system.
As simple as it sounds, those upgrades, including some tuning expertise from Norris Motorsports, unleashed 635 hp at 5,800 rpm and 581 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm to the tires.
For now the stock clutch, trans, driveshaft, and rear axles are intact, but personal experience tells us keeping a lift open in the shop is a good idea with a fifth-gen busting out this much power.
With Bruce looking for cornering agility to complement the car's hefty performance output, he bolted in a Pedders coilover suspension system featuring their XA Super Car Coilovers with adjustable shocks front and back. ZL1 sway bars and full bushing kit were added to further increase chassis stiffness and keep body roll to a minimum. The performance-geared ride and lower stance (1 3⁄4 inches front, 2 inches rear) give the portly Camaro a fighting chance to keep up with its lighter, more nimble predecessors.
Cadillac CTS-V Hawk pads reside in the stock Camaro casings up front while the production grabbers hang on to the off-the-shelf rotors out back. CCW 505 twin-five-spoke wheels (20x10 up front, 20x11.5 rear) are used for street duty, while Forgeline GA3Rs (19x10 front, 19x11.5 back) fill the wheelwells on race days. Having two sets of rollers offers Bruce the luxury of running different tire compounds as well. Pirelli P Zero rubber (275/45-R20 front, 305/30-R20 rear) is reserved for the CCW's on casual driving days, while Michelin PS2s (305/30-R19 on all four corners) come out for race days.
While a good portion of the interior relies mostly on the GM stock offerings in cruising situations, Bruce swaps out the stock seats, complete with RP custom headrests for a pair of Kirkey Road Race saddles and incorporates an Impact five-point harness secured by a custom-built Raymond's Performance roll bar for additional safety.
A carbon-fiber A-pillar gauge pod plays host to Auto Meter's Ultra Lite fuel pressure and boost informants, while a Hurst shifter takes command of the six-speed trans.
Bruce admits a certain dedication to the old-school look, so he called on Wagner's Body to incorporate the black SS stripe down the hood and decklid on top of the Red Jewel Tint pigment. Wagner's then laid down the Raymond's Performance graphic down the side paying homage to the Yenko Super Car package of the late-'60s and early-'70s.
Bruce points out the unique aspect of this fifth-gen is how the car can be converted from a race/track car to street cruiser in just a couple of hours by switching out the race seats for the stockers, removing the roll bar, and swapping the track wheels for the street versions. Backing off the shock settings a few clicks softens the ride for an even more streetable attitude.
"With the car built up further than I had originally planned, I figured we might as well race it and show what we can do with the fifth-gen," said Bruce. "So far, we've competed in the Silver State Challenge where we ran a 109.91 mph [average] in the 110 mph class and took Twelfth place, and we got invited to run in the 2012 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational where we took Twenty-second place with Todd Rumpke at the helm. Being there were about 50 cars in the competition, I'm very happy with how well the car did. Especially taking into account that a supercharged fifth-gen Camaro comes in at about 4,000 pounds."
As for the car's future, Bruce's next move is to make the car even faster while also trying to knock off a few pounds in the process.
So, if this is how he builds a car that he originally had no intentions of upgrading, one can only imagine what he'd do with a car built specifically with racing in mind.
We'll be keeping an eye out for what Bruce conjures up in the future, and it's a safe bet a lot of other fifth-gen Camaro guys will be keeping an eye on him as well.