2012 Camaro SS - Pursuit Of Perfection

A homebuilt ZL1 clone that combines flawless good looks with 735 rwhp

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Eric Stewart is a man with the perfect combination of a love for cars, an eye for detail, hands-on skills to build a flawless car, and the drive-it-anywhere attitude that you have to admire. He has owned 37 cars and trucks over the years including two second-gens, two third-gens, and one fourth-gen (and even an ’05 GTO) before purchasing his ’10 Camaro SS, which he quickly dubbed as his favorite.

"I spotted this car at a big used car sale near my house. It had been a GM program car and was a little rough to have only 3,780 miles on it. But the price was right, so I bought it. After buying this car, I made a promise to myself: No matter how nice the car became or how much time and money was spent on it, I would always drive it and enjoy it. If it gets dirty, clean it. If it gets scratched, buff it or paint it. If it breaks, fix it. My main goal was to enjoy the car by doing what it’s meant to do…drive it!"

In fact, when we met Eric in Atlanta, he had driven his SS all the way up from Anniston, Alabama, just as he had on the ’10 Hot Rod Power Tour. Of course, back then it didn’t have a brand-new paintjob and 735-rear-wheel horsepower. It wasn’t until after the tour that the power bug hit him. After installing a Kenne Bell supercharger and OBX stainless long-tube headers, Eric headed back out on the road to North Carolina to experience the Tail of the Dragon. "318 curves in 11 miles, in a 600hp SS is so much fun!" We can only imagine. And then things really started to get interesting when Eric decided to install a cam. The plan was simple: Delete the VVT and install a lumpy blower cam. But past experience with other forced induction vehicles made him paranoid of impeding disaster with increased boost and power. So the stock L99 was sold to make way for a Texas Speed stroker.

Starting with a factory LS3 block, Texas Speed honed the cylinders out to 4.070 inches and dropped in a Callies 4.100-inch stroke forged crankshaft with matching rods to connect to Wiseco forged pistons. Fellow Alabama natives Patriot Performance ported the stock LS3 heads, adding its famous Gold valvespring package and Titanium retainers, which put static compression ratio at 9.5:1. The valvetrain was completed with LS7 lifters, Comp Cams pushrods, and a 223/239-duration three-bolt cam before sealing up the engine with an Edelbrock two-piece timing cover. The liquid cooled Kenne Bell 2.8L blower is spun by an Innovators West 8-rib 10-percent overdrive balancer and RevXtreme polished billet pulleys for 12 psi of boost. The Kenne Bell intercooler is enhanced by an AI Super Chiller, which taps into the A/C system to keep IATs in check and get the most out of the 93-octane pump gas.

Before dropping in the new bullet and making some other appropriate upgrades, Eric took the opportunity to strip the car down (devoid of even the brake lines and wiring) and painted the entire under side and engine compartment in the factory Victory Red. Upon reassembly he hid the ABS module inside the fender and hid or relocated any unsightly wiring for a cleaner look under the hood. The fuel system was also upgraded with a Lingenfelter dual fuel pump and controller kit as well as Injector Dynamics 1,000cc injectors. The powertrain was reinstalled with a ProTorque converter bolted up to the 6L80E. The final piece was the exhaust. While bolting up to an off-the-shelf exhaust system would have been simple enough, Eric went the custom route for a 3-inch stainless system that employs two Flowmasters and uses Helmholtz resonance to eliminate droning. This method has become increasingly popular in the fifth-gen crowd, not just for 19-year veterans of the aerospace industry. The end result was a daily-driveable 735 horsepower, as measured on Atlanta Performance & Fabrication’s dyno (the tuning was one of the only jobs Eric had to farm out).

Thankfully, after four months worth of work, Eric’s efforts came through just in time for the next Power Tour (2011). "When winter time rolled around I had a new goal. I wanted to enter some car shows with my SS." While most people might have just plasti-dipped the wheels, dropped in some lowering springs, added new emblems and called it good, Eric went the extra mile in giving the SS a proper nose job. A ZL1 front bumper was retrofitted and painted by Garys Customs. A TruFiber Extreme cowl hood with a ZR1-style window was later used to display the polished blower, and the ZL1 treatment was completed with rocker panels and air diverters—capped off with a Havoc rear bumper diffuser. The lighting was replaced with DDM Tuning HIDs and Oracle LEDs on the exterior, along with LEDs in the interior and ABL lighting on the dash to match the factory door lighting. An ADM digital boost gauge capped off the high-tech interior treatment. Moving back underhood, a polished PRW water pump and Billet Specialties valve covers were among several new shiny items to grab car show judges’ attention.

So far this year the car has won first place at the World of Wheels and won a total of three awards at the Chevy High Performance Nationals (including best LSX engine). For a 42-year-old guy that dreamed o being in a car magazine since he was 12 or 13, owning dozens of custom cars and trucks, this moment is truly well deserved…and worthy of that seemingly unobtainable standard known as perfection.

Car: 2010 Camaro SS
Owner: Eric Stewart
Block: LS3, 427cid
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Heads: LS3, ported by Patriot Performance, 2.165 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: Comp Cams hydraulic roller, 223/239 duration at .050, .610/.623-inch lift, 114 LSA
Rocker arms: Stock, 1.7-ratio
Pistons: Wiseco, forged
Rings: Wiseco
Crankshaft: Callies Compstar, forged
Rods: Callies Compstar H-beam, forged
Throttle body: Stock 90mm
Fuel injectors: Injector Dynamics 1000cc
Fuel pump: Lingenfelter, twin in-tank with Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, MSD wires/DEI sleeves, NGK TR6 plugs
Engine management: Stock, tuned by Atlanta Performance & Fabrication
Supercharger: Kenne Bell 2.8L
Bypass Valve: Kenne Bell
Intercooler: Kenne Bell, air-to-water
Exhaust system: OBX 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, 3-inch X-pipe with high-flow cats, Flowmaster mufflers
Transmission: 6L80E
Torque Converter: ProTorque 2600-stall
Driveshaft: Stock two-piece
Front suspension: Eibach lowering springs, stock sway bar, control arms and shocks
Rear suspension: Eibach lowering springs, stock sway bar, control arms and shocks
Rear end: Stock IRS, 3.23 gear, axles, posi
Brakes: Stock Brembo 4-piston front, 2-piston rear
Wheels: Factory Replica 20x9
Front tires: Nitto Invo 275/40/20
Rear tires: Nitto Invo 315/35/20
Fuel: 93-octane
HP/TQ: 735/665

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