The supercharged Camaro ZL1 is one heck of a factory offering, but most enthusiasts just can't plop $60,000 down at the local Bow Tie store, no matter how good it is. What's the less well-heeled Chevy guy to do? ProCharger delivered one answer to us recently. It purchased a used 2010 Camaro, added its new i-1 programmable boost supercharger, and sent it to Florida. We scheduled a track day to see if one bolt-on could get us ZL1-type acceleration.
What, you may be asking is a programmable-boost supercharger? It's the latest innovation from ProCharger, a supercharger company with a long history of them. Rather than having to change pulleys to increase or decrease power, the i-1 comes with three factory-supplied boost programs from the factory and allows you (or your tuner) to create your own custom programs. There's an optional touch-screen programmer available that allows you to switch between modes, including a valet mode should you have to hand your pride and joy off to someone who don't trust with over 600 flywheel horsepower.
When we first laid eyes on the i-1 at the 2012 SEMA show, we were intrigued by its potential. The i-1 can increase the power of a stock LS3 Camaro (or Corvette) by nearly 200 rear-wheel horsepower with no other modifications. The car we tested went from 373 rwhp to 568 with just 7.5 lbs of pump-gas-friendly boost. Compare this to the ZL1 test car we had on our office DynoJet earlier this year, which made 509 rwhp, and you can see the i-1 gives you better-than-ZL1 power.
Ken Jones, the president of ProCharger, drove the car you see on these pages from the company's headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas, to our office in Tampa in the heat of July. We sampled this F-body on both the roads around our office and PBIR. We're here to tell you this is one impressive piece of technology. Our test car (a 2SS with a manual transmission) drove like an unmolsted Camaro until you jumped on the throttle. Then things happen in a hurry. Your every fiber will let you know this Camaro is anything but stock. Unlike some centrifugal-style blowers, there's little-to-no lag. The boost comes right in, pinning your head to the seat, even in 90-degree tropical Florida heat. Trust me, we didn't baby the SS. It was at full operating temperature with the A/C on when we drove it. There was no sign of detonation no matter how often or hard we hammered it. All we got was torque, horsepower, tire-spin, and acceleration. Lots of acceleration.
According to ProCharger, i-1 blowers feature exclusive billet impellers The programmable boost is delivered by a durable variable ratio transmission design, with a rugged dry hybrid drive. The i-1 is the result of four years of intensive R&D and rigorous performance testing, and it's the i-1 is available with ProCharger's optional three-year supercharger warranty. All i-1 supercharger systems come complete, and are backed by ProCharger and its network of dealers.
While gaining nearly 200 rwhp on a bone stock car is quite the improvement, the i-1 can support up 900 (or more) horsepower if you have a modified engine. According to Jones, “You can turn up the boost on the i-1 just like any of our other blowers. We've made 870 flywheel horsepower on the engine dyno with a lightly modified LS2 motor and the i-1, at approximately 14 psi and with a relatively conservative redline and tune. We rate the i-1 at 900 HP, but the numbers/analysis indicates it can produce over 925 HP on a well-matched motor."
In theory, Jones says, the i-1 is technically capable of 30 psi, but in reality given the size/flow of the motor it would typically be installed upon, it would be rare for it to be operated at more than 20 psi. Installation by an experienced technician should not take more than a day, though it takes two extra hours to install versus a traditional ProCharger.