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2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Heads, Headers & Exhaust Upgrade - Budget Badass

Thrifty Heads/Cam/Bolt-On Goodies Pick Up 81 Rear-Wheel Horses

Rick Jensen Feb 1, 2008

At this point, my 2001 hardtop, nicknamed 1SC-YA thanks to its 1SC build code and lack of options, has a great swapped-in six-speed, an enhanced stock front- brake setup, and a killer street/track suspension compliant enough for New York City roads and potent enough to tear up a road course.

All the testing you've seen so far (and some that's still to come) has been done with stock power numbers. The 317 SAE ponies at the wheels, with 339 ft-lb of torque, have been a blast-and got better with synthetic Red Line fluids for a grand total of 329/349. But the potential of the LS1 is staggering, and since some of the best upgrades are heads/cam/bolt-on packages, it's time for more power.

I didn't want to just throw on one of several "go-to" packages and call it good; there are a ton of great combos out there, and GMHTP has covered its fair share f them. But for 1SC-YA, my plan was to assemble my own combo with an eye on price; replace worn parts with quality, costeffective pieces; dyno-test the new combo to show a solid power gain; and then comment on the fit, finish, and performance of the new goodies.

At the heart of this buildup are Patriot Performance cam and heads, Hooker headers, Y-pipe,exhaust system, and SLP airlid. Providing fuel is a set of FAST 60-pound injectors and a Racetronix fuel system.

Though the chosen parts will save big bucks, don't confuse this story with a dirt- heap build; an eye was kept on cost, but not at the expense of quality and longevity. The headers are a perfect example. I could have gone bottom dollar (and suffered the inevitable fit/finish problems), but I chose Hooker because they fit well, will last longer with the ceramic coating, and don't cost a bundle.

There are a few choices you might raise an eyebrow at, like the $500 fuel injectors. That's a big chunk, so no-buck guys might just say "keep the stockers in." This Z's 28-pounders, though right on the edge, would have worked in the short-term for low-400 wheel horsepower, but the duty cycle would have been maxed out. This is always a bad idea, as engines on the edge are much more likely to have problems. And as we were looking toward the future and bigger mods, these 60s (overkill, yes, but actually $10 cheaper than the 42-poundersfrom FAST), along with a solid new fuel pump and harness, meant wewon't have to replace this LS1's injectors again-saving money and time in the process.

We had the car and the parts, and TT Performance in Passaic, New Jersey, offered to do the install for GMHTP. TTP is a full-service install and tuning facility staffed with nice guys who know their way around LS engines and the vehicles they power. And with proprietor Matt Sorian's tuning background with HP Tuners, the all-important tuning aspect would be well covered.

Follow along as TT Performance transforms our stock-engine LS1 into a powerful street car.

Driving Evaluation
A couple of weeks after TTP finished with the Z, Chris Werner and I made a trip out to Pennsylvania's Pocono Raceway. It wasn't driven on-track, but after several hundred miles of street and highway duty, stop-andgo traffic, etc., I got a pretty good feel for the new combination.

The heads and cam from Patriot work very well. The heads flow lots of air and allow tons of top-end power, especially since we put this cam in at the same time.The cam is fine for a daily driver-there is just a hint of surge at very low rpm, similar to many LS1 cams on the market. But it is more than worth it when the tach swings past 6,000. It loves to pull, and the 243 heads love to breathe. Matched up with the COMP lifters and pushrods, we've got a solid combo. No problems to date.

So far I'm very pleased with the Hooker exhaust system. The headers installed and fit well, there didn't seem to be any problems with the Y-pipe or exhaust, the tips look great, and there is a terrific, raspy rumble when this thing runs. So far, there have only been two exhaust clunks over very big bumps at high speed, which is to be expected. No problems.

Another Racetronix fuel system install, another hassle-free high-hp-capable LS1. This really is a nice pump and wiring setup. With the big 60-pound injectors, Matt at TTP had to work a little harder with the part-throttle tuning, but they drive and react like the 28s-but instead of a nearly maxed-out duty cycle, they are only at 55 percent. No problems.

The SLP airlid fits very well, and it seems like the oil pump is doing its job. While I don't have anything quantifiable to report on the Zex plugs or Torco oil, the gas is getting lit up, and the engine is getting lubed just fine.

I was hoping the 60-pounders wouldn't result in a lazy tune, but Matt Sorian's custom tune is a good one. Driveability with this cam is fine; it doesn't stall, starts and idles well, and the WOT air/fuel ratio is spot-on. No problems.

So there it is. I spent just over five grand for all these parts and 81 hp and 40 lb-ft at the wheels,and my car needed $537 worth of maintenance parts to get it up to par. You can get away with spending only around $4,800 for that power gain. Not too shabby.

*Depending on the condition of your car, you may not need O2 sensors/coils/wires. In this case,the total cost of this package would be $4,805.


Hooker Headers
Aberdeen, MS 39730
Comp Cams
Memphis, TN 38118
Memphis, TN 38118
Chevrolet Performance Parts
Detroit, MI 48232
Patriot Performance
Rainbow, AL 35906
Memphis, TN 38118
SLP Performance Parts, Inc
Toms River, NJ 08755
Torco International Corporation
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
TT Performance Parts Inc
Passaic, NJ 07055



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