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2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS - Advancing The Art

Owen Priest's version of research and development: A 9-second, 1000hp 468ci Camaro SS rocket

Justin Cesler Jun 16, 2011
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Two days. That's exactly how long Owen Priest owned his '10 Camaro SS before beginning to modify it. Just two short days to get acquainted with a brand new car and it was time to get to work. For many, that may be a normal time frame to take your new Camaro home and install some window tint or a new set of emblems. But, we're not talking about that kind of stuff here-we're talking about extensive modifications right out of the gate, like adding hundreds of horsepower at a time and being the first person in the country to accomplish a new goal or break a new record. Yeah, we're talking about Owen Priest, owner of Advanced Racing Dynamics in Houston, Texas. The guy who can claim the title of being the first nitrous powered '10 Camaro in the 9's and doing it when many thought it would be impossible. The guy that bought a '10 just to do research and development for his customers and the very guy that brazenly installed a monster 468ci LSX in his Camaro just months after picking it up from the dealership.

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Unlike many other builds, Owen's Camaro isn't the result of a modding addiction turned serious or a snowball effect of horsepower adding parts over time. Oh no, this car was built with one purpose and each modification represents hours of technical research and cold hard testing in the real world. What started as a stock L99 Camaro SS quickly became a bolt-on and nitrous assisted rocket, which Owen managed to quickly take to the top of the Fastest '10 Camaro list with the stock motor, if only for a little while. "We have had the fastest record and we have watched it change hands," Owen told us nonchalantly, but "we know this car backwards and forwards now" and for one of the best builders in the country, that is an important skill to have.

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After having his fun with the stock engine and learning a lot about bolt-on performance, Owen Priest decided it was time to step up the development program and throw some serious power at the Camaro in hopes of setting some records. Starting with the tried and true GM Performance Parts (GMPP) LSX block, Owen began by punching out the cylinder bores to 4.185 inches and finishing them for a set of forged Manley pistons that were built to bring final compression into the 11.5:1 range. Under the pistons, Owen installed a set of Callies Compstar rods and a 4.250-inch Callies crankshaft, giving him a solid 468ci bottom end with which to continue his testing.

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Up top, Owen bolted on a set of GMPP LS7 cylinder heads that he gently worked over with a set of Del West valves and 16 LS7 rocker arms that he had modified with Comp Cams trunions. To get those rockers moving, Owen had Comp grind him a somewhat tame bumpstick (237/249 duration at .050, .674/.674 inches of lift on a 113 LSA) by race car standards and he carefully installed it down center of the block before buttoning up the long-block and moving on to the rest of the engine bay. As you can imagine, 468 ci of nitrous-fed, LS7-headed dominance requires a ton of airflow, which meant Owen couldn't just bolt any old intake before firing his Camaro up. Instead of a traditional ported unit or even an aftermarket composite intake, Owen ultimately decided to use a Carb-style GMPP intake manifold with an ARD-ported LS3 throttle body and an Edelbrock intake elbow, which he managed to fit under the stock hood for a stock-style look and feel.

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Of course, "stock-style" means absolutely nothing once Owen fires this monster off in the staging lanes, because with 468 ci breathing out a pair of long-tube headers and 3-inch Borla XR-1 mufflers, there is absolutely nothing stealth about Owen's Camaro. And, really, why should there be? This car is about testing, sure, but it is also a rolling billboard for his shop, so attention is always a positive side effect of a great running car. Did we mention how fast Owen's Camaro went with the new LSX yet? No?! Well, you're going to have to keep waiting for a second while we talk about the drivetrain. In order to put down over 1,000 hp and 1,065 lb-ft of torque, Owen had to do some work but, amazingly, most of his upgrades would work in any Camaro, whether on the street or on the track from stock to well over 1,000 hp.

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Backing the 468 is actually an ARD-built 4L80E with a manual shift valve body. The Stage 3 unit represents ARD's research and development arm, which took the time to build and install the 4L80E so that customers of ARD could do the same in their own Camaro. Aft of the tail shaft, Owen installed a 3-inch steel driveshaft on a G-Force billet yoke, which transfers power to the factory independent rear end, which Owen fortified with a 3.73:1 ratio ring and pinion and a set of 1,400hp Drive Shaft Shop axles. The rest of the suspension is, actually, completely stock except for a pair of Eibach sway bars and BMR lower control arms. Yep, believe it or not Owen runs a pair of stock shocks and springs on all four corners and, using them, can cut 1.48-second 60-foot times at full-weight, which is something many fifth-generation Camaro naysayers said could never be done.

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Covering the first 60 feet of the track in 1.48 seconds is quick and it is partly because of the launch that the next 1,260 feet fly by Owen's Camaro in rather rapid succession. In under 10 seconds-9.82 seconds to be exact-Owen is back on the brakes, completing his quarter-mile blast at over 146 mph and keeping him near the top of the Fastest '10 Camaro list. For Owen, the 9.82-second run represents months of testing and development, months that many shop owners may not be able to afford but to hear Owen tell it, he can't afford not to test. "We bought the car for R&D on the new Camaro. We have designed roll cages, 4L80E conversions, driveshaft designs, cat-back systems, etc. We are excited for all of the new GM vehicles!" It is that excitement and commitment that keeps Owen at the top of his game and we're glad to see him out at the track, knowing that with every pass he gets us all a little closer to running quicker in our fifth-generation Camaros.

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Engine: 468 cid LSX, 11.5:1 compression, ARD LS7 cylinder heads, 237/249 duration (with .674/.674-inch lift) hydraulic roller camshaft, LS7 carb-style intake
Power Adder: Cold Fusion nitrous system, single stage direct-port
Fuel System: 42 lb/hr injectors, stock fuel pump, standalone nitrous fuel system with Holley Blue fuel pump
Engine Management: Stock, tuned by Owen Priest at ARD
Exhaust System: Big Flow 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, 3-inch Big Flow exhaust, Borla XR-1 mufflers
Driveline: ARD Stage 3 4L80E, Circle D multidisc torque converter, 3.73 gears, stock posi, Drive Shaft Shop axles
Suspension: Eibach front and rear sway bars, BMR lower control arms, stock shocks and springs
Brakes: Stock front, '10 V-6 Camaro rear
Wheels: Stock 20-inch (street), CCW Classic 17x4 front and 16x10 rear (track)
Tires: Nitto Invo 245/45/20 front, Nitto 555R 305/35/20 drag radial rear (street); M&H Racemaster skinnies and Hoosier 28x10 slicks (track)
HP/TQ: 1,020/1,065

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