If GM enthusiasts have learned anything over time, it is that improving airflow into and out of the stock engine always results in noticeable gains on the street, dyno, and track. Really, this is simple logic, as we all know that an engine is nothing more than an air pump and the faster and more efficiently it pumps, the faster we get to go. Of course, this doesn't mean that we can just bolt on any old intake and exhaust and run some numbers at the track. On the contrary, now more than ever it is important to pick quality components that have been engineered to work well on a specific application, as besting the factory is getting harder and harder as new engines ship from GM making more and more power on the same cubic inches.
Take, for example, our bone-stock LS3, which shipped from GM to owner Greg Lovell with 393.37 rwhp and 395.45 lb-ft of torque. Think about that, 393 rwhp from a stock Camaro-our beloved fourth-generation cars barely made that with all the bolt-ons and a good camshaft! Completely stock, Greg had ran a best of 13.276 at 110 mph, the result of a dismal 2.353 60-foot time and a heavy chassis with an independent rearend. Knowing that the stock LS3 was doing its job, evident from the 110-mph traps, we spent our last track day trying to get his car to hook, adding a set of 305/45/18 Nitto NT05R drag radials, a pair of Pfadt trailing arms, and a pair of The Drive Shaft Shop axles, to help keep everything together. With just those modifications and still a completely stock motor, Greg ran as fast as 12.871 at 112 mph, which really showed us just how powerful the LS3 is, even in a nearly 4,000-pound Camaro.
With our 60-foot times getting better, now at a more respectable but far from ideal 2.069, we finally decided to turn our attention to making more horsepower, opting to do some very simple bolt-on modifications that could easily be done in your driveway using simple handtools. We knew that we wanted to make over 400 rwhp and would love to see a 12.60 (or better) e.t., so our first call was to American Racing Headers in Amityville, New York, to order a pair of its 1 7/8-inch stainless steel long-tube headers, along with a set of street legal catalytic converters and a complete ARH 3-inch mandrel bent cat-back. Thanks to the fabricators and engineers at ARH, we knew this system would be efficient and top quality, both things we value highly on an almost brand new Camaro. After our long-tube headers and X-pipe had shipped, we realized that we didn't really want to keep the stock mufflers either, since they look atrocious and are much too quiet for a bright-orange muscle car. A quick email to the good folks at LM Performance got us back on track, as they were able to quickly ship us a new American Racing Headers axle-back muffler system, which included two new mufflers and the necessary 2.5-inch pipes to hook directly to our new header system with absolutely no fuss.
With the exhaust taken care of, we reached way back in our parts bin and dusted off a brand-new ADM Performance "Race" cold-air intake, a system we have been looking to test for quite some time. According to Andy Mages, owner of ADM Performance, this intake was designed to grab and meter cold air from outside the engine bay, which results in increased horsepower and torque, without any driveability compromises. Unlike the ADM Street intake, which we tested, albeit incorrectly, in our May 2010 issue ("Suck on This"), the race intake adds a bottom duct to the existing box design, which works in conjunction with the factory ducting system to bring cold air into the engine, while keeping the heat-soaked engine bay air out of the equation.