First gear, useless. Second gear? Well, let’s just say you better be holding that steering wheel straight when the boost hits. The noise can only be described as a tearing sound, as the tires just start to haze and boil right as the boost comes on strong. Third gear, you’re moving now. Picking up speed and the turbo is just singing along picking up miles an hour faster than you can imagine. No need for fourth on city streets, but if your buddy thinks his GT500 is fast, you can certainly show him who is boss from a nice low roll. Best of all, out of the throttle, we couldn’t hear anything at all. And I’m talking about “is it still running?” kind of quite.
Of course, what we’re talking about here is life behind the wheel of a 500-rwhp Fifth-gen Camaro equipped with Turbonetics bolt-on Fifth-gen Camaro turbo system. The kit, which ships to your door with every single piece you need to complete the installation – and we do mean every single piece you need – comes with a Turbonetics T76 water-cooled turbocharger, a massive air-to-air front mount intercooler, a set of 35mm wastegates, a Duo blow off valve, and all of the tubing, couplers, gaskets, hardware, and accessories needed for a complete 100-percent bolt-on installation. That includes a set of spark plugs, a set of injectors, a pre-programmed handheld tuner, and enough thermal heat wrap to allow your Fifth-gen to safety reenter the atmosphere, should the need arise. We’re serious here, Turbonetics even includes the tap you need for the oil drain line fitting… there is no running to the parts store for this installation. And, as we’ve said, installing the system on a stock Camaro makes it 50-state legal (even you, California!), so you can pass emissions with 500-rwhp on board and never have to worry about any hassle.
Sound too good to be true? Well, we’ll warn you now that this isn’t an install for the complete novice. It can be done at home, no doubt, but we would recommend you block out a couple of weekends to get everything just perfect. And call your car buddies, you’re going to want some help from time to time. But seriously, everything is included and you don’t have to do a single bit of cutting or welding, so if you’re mechanically inclined, you can easily knock this out. For our installation, we turned to Greg Lovell and Kyle Miller at AntiVenom here in way-too-hot-outside-Florida, and they were able to knock out the installation on a ’10 Camaro in just a couple of days. The results, well, they speak for themselves…
1. Chances are, if you’ve owned your Fifth-gen for any period of time, you’ve done a couple of bolt-on modifications. And they were fun, at first, but maybe now you want a little more power… Our test Camaro arrived at AntiVenom in Seffner, Florida sporting a set of long-tube headers, a full exhaust, and a cold-air intake system, and put down 414.54-rwhp and 407.43 lb-ft of torque on the dyno. Very strong bolt-on numbers for sure but about 100-rwhp shy of what the owner was looking for.
2. Enter Turbonetics and the company’s complete bolt-on, 50 state legal, single-turbo system. Designed specifically for the ’10-12 Camaro, this system shipped to AntiVenom’s door with every single piece needed to complete the installation, including all of the tubing, lines, couplers, heat wrap, zip ties, bolts, nuts, washers, brackets, and even some tools, that would be needed to complete the job. When we say complete, we mean it. .
3. Kyle Miller, AntiVenom’s lead technician, wasted no time digging in to the Camaro, prepping it for the turbo system installation by removing the front bumper, draining the oil and coolant, and disconnecting the battery. If any of these steps seem complicated, we recommend finding a qualified installer to take care of your turbo installation. It’s not complicated work but it’s quite the undertaking for even a professional installer.
4. The 50-state legal turbo system requires Camaro owners to use their factory exhaust manifolds and catalytic converters with the Turbonetics system. As you can see, our test Camaro came with a set of long-tube headers, which we switched out for a pair of stock exhaust manifolds. You did keep your stock exhaust manifolds, right?
5. With the stock catalytic converters in place, Kyle’s first step was to slide the new Turbonetics merge pipe in place. If it looks a bit strange, understand that this is a front mounted turbo system, and Turbonetics designed the system to bring exhaust back towards the engine bay using a well designed merge pipe, which features two priority wastegate mounting locations for quality boost control. This allows users to keep the stock manifolds, cats, and exhaust.
6. Twin Turbonetics 35mm wastegates bolt to the back of the turbo merge pipe. These wastegates control exhaust flow through the turbocharger and allow for adjustable boost settings. Using an internal spring, these wastegates are set to provide approximately 5 to 6 pounds of boost on a stock LS3/L99, which is perfect for longevity and performance.
7. Preparing the Fifth-gen engine bay for the turbo system installation is the most time consuming a tedious portion of the installation, but quality prep work will make for a hassle free turbocharged ride. Turbonetics has obviously thought about everything with this system, including thermal management, reliability, and maintenance, which is excellent to see in a mail-order bolt-on system.
8. Heat wrap, heat wrap, heat wrap. Almost every single line, wire, and cable on the driver’s side of the engine bay needs to be covered in thermal insulation, and Turbonetics provides a lot of it to make sure you don’t skimp out. Turbochargers get very hot, so unless you enjoy melting pieces of your Camaro, take the time to wrap all of the A/C lines, power steering hoses, battery cables, spark plug boots, and miscellaneous wires you find under the hood.
9a-b. The Turbonetics T76 ceramic ball bearing turbocharger is the star of the show, and is capable of delivering over 500-rwhp at the stock boost level with factory catalytic converters and the provided tune. Both water cooled and oil lubricated, the T76 requires both coolant and oil to be provided by the factory Fifth-gen engine…
10. Which means you’ll need to dig in deep and do some cutting and drilling. Using the provided AN water line fittings, you will need to cut the factory heater hoses (located on the passenger side of the engine) and splice the fittings in place. These will connect to the upper and lower ports on the turbocharger, allowing it to be cooled by the engine coolant, which increases the turbo’s life and performance.
11a-b. Getting oil to the turbocharger is a much more difficult task and it requires drilling and tapping the oil pan. This is one part of the installation where it’s critical to get everything right. Using a 9/16-inch drill bit, Kyle carefully drilled the stock oil pan (on the driver’s side, 2-inches from the bottom) and then tapped it using the provided tap. A barbed fitting then threads in place, which returns oil to the pan. The supply side simply bolts to the block, using an oil galley located behind the alternator.
12. At this point, you’re ready to mock up the turbocharger and slide it into place. Using the provided bracket, Kyle bolted the turbocharger to the up-pipe flange, and dropped the T76 turbo in place. Note that the compressor housing (the shiny side) may need to be clocked, or angled differently, to fit in the chassis, so take your time to get everything lined up perfectly.
13. Compressing air heats it and hot air is bad for performance, which is why Turbonetics includes a massive 26x11x4.5-inch aluminum Spearco air-to-air front mount intercooler with the Camaro SS system. This gigantic intercooler will transfer heat away from the compressed air, allowing it to cool, before heading into the engine. Three rubber-isolated studs (and one hard mounted stud) hold the intercooler in place.
14. However, you will need to “make some room” between the front core support and the A/C condenser for the turbocharger to intercooler coupler. Greg Lovell of AntiVenom used a large adjustable wrench to gently bend the bracket forward, working it out of the way until the coupler and inlet of the intercooler fit without rubbing.
15. The Turbonetics Duo 35mm blow off valve mounts directly to the top of the intercooler. The blow off valves job is simply to release air trapped inside the system once the driver closes the throttle blade after a wide open throttle, or partial throttle run. On the Turbonetics system, this released air is then plumbed back into the air box for a clean and almost silent operation.
16a-b. The passenger side of the front mount system flows cooled air from the intercooler into the throttle body of the Camaro. A silicone coupler attaches the large “cold side” piping to the intercooler, which routes air up into the engine bay. You’ll need to remove the factory coolant overflow bottle to make room for the tubing, and then install two couplers in the engine bay to connect the tubing to the throttle body.
17. The stock Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor bolts to the new Turbonetics tubing, and is used with the factory computer to measure airflow into the engine. Interestingly, the Turbonetics tubing includes a slick honeycomb filter before the MAF sensor, which smoothes out the airflow for reliable MAF readings.
18. Remember all of that heat wrapping we did earlier? Time to do even more of it. Everything on the hot side of the turbo system, including the turbo itself, needs to be covered and Turbonetics includes everything you need to make this work in the kit. A heat blanket covers the turbine housing (which keeps heat in to improve spool and heat out of the engine bay to reduce underhood temps), and heat wrap covers the up-pipe and downpipe.
19. Speaking of the downpipe, that’s the new exhaust system for the turbocharger, and its job is to move spent exhaust gasses away from the turbine housing and out of the Camaro’s engine bay. Kyle attaches it to the turbocharger using the provided V-band clamp, and routes it in front of the engine towards the passenger side of the Camaro.
20. The downpipe then routes through the passenger motor mount area and back under the Camaro. At 3-inches, this is a large pipe to fit through the underside of the chassis, but it will fit if you find the right location for everything. Take your time and make sure the downpipe is far enough away from the steering rack and starter wiring.
21. Finally, you can hook up the wastegate dump tubes to the downpipe, and snug up all of the exhaust clamps. Note the Y-pipe on the end of the downpipe; that allows the Turbonetics system to merge directly into a factory exhaust system (not shown), keeping the turbo system quite and street legal.
22. Back in the engine bay, it was time for Kyle to install the new metal upper and lower radiator lines, which will hold up much better in the turbocharged engine bay. Again, Turbonetics included everything necessary for the installation, including the couplers and clamps. Simply slide the new tubing in place and clamp it down.
23. Installing the air intake system was next on our list, and it’s a simple job using the factory air box. For emission compliancy, you’ll want to keep the factory unit in place, although the MAF will be relocated and the top of the box will be replaced with the included aluminum hold down bracket. Slide the existing box into the turbocharger inlet coupler and bolt it down.
24. Increasing airflow means increasing fuel flow and the Turbonetics system ships complete with a set of 63 lb/hr injectors. These new units drop right in to the factory fuel rail, and utilize the existing injector harness clips. With the new injectors, you will need a new calibration file (tune) for the ECU but Turbonetics includes that in the system as well…
25. You know you’re almost done when you get to this step, and bolting the new washer fluid and coolant overflow tank in place is as easy as it looks. Using two studs already found on the driver’s side strut tower, Kyle dropped the container in place and bolted it down. You’ll need to hook the stock lines back up, so don’t forget that before you fill it with fluid!
26. We’re not going to pretend that this is an easy installation but it is definitely something that can be done at home using regular tools. If you’re comfortable working on your Camaro, budget a full weekend or two, and you’ll be turbocharged in no time. The Turbonetics system ships with everything – and we do mean everything – you’ll need for a complete, 50 state legal, turbo system.
27. Oh yeah, and it’ll make big power too! On the dyno at AntiVenom, we recorded peak horsepower at 507.7-rwhp and peak torque at 521.15 lb-ft. That’s a gain of 93.16-rwhp and over 113 lb-ft of torque over our already strong bolt-on baseline numbers and a massive gain over stock. With 507-rwhp on tap and enough torque to rotate the earth, this Camaro will smoke the competition and drive like a dream on the street or track.