There comes a time in every build when all of the tiny obstacles that you managed to avoid along the way come back to get you. And when they do finally pop up, they never seem to come easy or alone. In the case of our project STi Killer, it had been relatively smooth sailing up until this point, with each phase of the build going almost exactly as planned. If you have been following along, you already know that our '01 Camaro SS started life as a beat up, abused roller, which we found behind North Deland Auto Body in Florida. When we first brought it home (in the rain) we knew we were in for a serious undertaking, but what we didn't know is what lessons the car had in store for us.
First and most important, we learned that a cheap car is cheap for a reason. All of the "small issues" that don't seem important on day one will quickly become large issues on day two hundred and eighty-one. When we picked up our Camaro, the lack of an engine and transmission were of no real concern, nor was the lack of any electronics, bolts, or miscellaneous brackets. Unfortunately, those last three things proved to almost be our undoing and honestly, if it wasn't for the help of über-builder and mechanic Greg Lovell (owner of AntiVenom), we would still be driving around town begging our friends for long starter bolts or stealing Body Control Modules out of their cars while they slept. Actually, it is almost impossible to recount how many bolts we needed along way, but if you do embark on a project of this magnitude, make sure you locate the closest parts store with a large Metric bolt inventory and open a wholesale account. Even then you will still find some impossible-to-locate GM-specific bolts, and we recommend turning to your local dealer (pricey) or a dealer like Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center for those.
Physical parts aside, we also learned that GM electronics can be a tricky thing to deal with, especially when mixing and matching various used parts. Fortunately for us, however, most of the hurdles can be overcome but you do need to be resourceful. In our particular install, the largest headache came from the Body Control Module (BCM), which is a computer component in charge of everything inside the car including the security system, the windows, locks, door chimes, etc. Unfortunately, our used BCM, which was "borrowed" from an '00 Trans Am didn't match the resistor in our '01 SS key, which meant the car immediately went into Anti-Theft mode anytime we tried to start it. As if that wasn't bad enough, we also couldn't connect to the PCM through the OBD-II port and our dash cluster was a mess of incorrect readings, half-lit bulbs, and randomly blinking warning lights. At this point, with the thought of chasing dash wiring for the next three weeks, Greg Lovell and I almost lost hope but we were able to work through it with some slick tricks. First and foremost, it is possible to trick the BCM into working but it is essential that you know the resistance of the stock key. This means, when you buy or "borrow" a used BCM, you must also get the stock key from that vehicle. After we knew the key's resistance, we were able to wire up a resistance loop, which immediately solved our Anti-Theft light. Our dash and PCM connection problem? They both stemmed from a broken and incorrect cluster issue that we solved by installing a new dash cluster from another '02 Camaro SS. Luckily, our Hawks Third Generation-supplied PCM and wiring harness worked flawlessly, hooking up to everything on our LS6 and firing the car on the stock tune without any issues.
All headaches aside, this month's hard work on the STi Killer was certainly the most personally rewarding. All of the work along the way, all of the late nights researching parts and asking for advice finally paid off the first time we heard that engine fire. And truthfully, we couldn't have done any of it without a ton of great people helping us out along the way, all of whom played a critical roll in bringing this project together. Special thanks go out to Greg Lovell, who put in countless hours of late-night blood, sweat, and tears to make this all happen and if it wasn't for the Skunkworks Laboratory in his backyard, we may never have got the STi Killer ready for battle.