How does a new car that can run 9 seconds in the quarter-mile and 200 mph in the standing mile that's still driven daily sound to you? That sounds like a blast to us, but is it possible without spending a fortune? No we're not talking about a factory supercar that few can afford, we're talking about building one from a stock car, which apparently, with the right combination of parts and a diehard attitude, is possible.
It's become evident that today's power adders, when coupled with OEM and/or aftermarket cylinder head/camshaft technology, and of course, advanced electronics have made it easier than ever to build a newish, super-fast ride. Simply put, it's real easy these days to make a fast ride faster and ST Motorsports' Adam Montague knows all about that. His latest testbed, the '10 Camaro SS you see on these pages, has been steadily getting quicker and quicker, using a very short list of aftermarket parts. Thanks to a rock-solid engine design from GM and a drivetrain that can apparently take loads of abuse in stock form, fifth-gen Camaro owners can enjoy blasting down racetracks everywhere with relatively minimal performance parts. In this car's case, all it took was a Kenne Bell supercharger, drag radials, and a Kenne Bell tune and it was running in the 10-second zone in the quarter-mile.
As an unofficial record holder for many first-time performance levels with the latest generation of Ford's Mustang and Mopar's Challenger, Montague is no stranger to testing the limits of the newest in high-performing muscle cars, and as of two years ago, Montague's been breaking down performance barriers with Chevrolet's ponycar. "We've tuned Fords and Chryslers for years, so this is actually the first late-model GM I've tuned and so far, I'm happy with it." We'd say so; the week before we turned this in Montague was able to run close to 140 mph in the quarter-mile with a largely stock engine.
The car itself is upgraded, but not as extensively as one would think. There was no throttle body swap, no headers, no cat deletes, no ignition system upgrade; just some engine internals, a looser converter, and, of course, boost. The rearend: stock. The transmission: stock. Cylinder heads: stock. Suspension: stock. All the things one would think Montague would have onboard are absent, and in their stead, a highly effective Twin Screw supercharger. "The blower doesn't care about larger MAF sensors, throttle bodies, or even some headers," Kenne Bell's Jim Bell explains. "We've designed our kits to give our customers exactly what they're after without having to purchase additional bolt-ons."
We asked Montague about the steps he took to get his SS into the 9-second zone, but instead of talking about the car's bolt-on journey from 13s to 12s to 11s and so on, he reported only a couple major things he changed to get his car into the 10s and eventually, single-digit territory. "I've always wanted to build a driver capable of running [9 seconds] in the quarter-mile, but still be comfortable to drive," Montague says about his full interior fifth-gen. "I had worked with Kenne Bell for years on many customer's projects as well as my own, so we naturally went with their 2.8L screw blower on the stock engine to see how quick it would go with drag radials," he says. Using a MagnaFlow after-cat exhaust system, Kenne Bell's supercharger, sticky tires, and a performance tune, Montague skipped over a few levels and was rewarded with a 10-second timeslip from his relatively minimal effort at the Super Chevy event in 2011. Becoming one of the first to accomplish such a feat with a stock L99 motor in a fifth-gen was a neat gift, but at 16 psi of boost from the Kenne Bell Twin Screw, he had found his combo's first weak link. "We made plans to upgrade the rotating assembly and backed it down to 14 psi of boost after finding that we bent the stock L99 rods," Montague says. Shortly after getting a taste of the 10s, the bullet came out and Montague proceeded to upgrade what he needed to continue his quest for that elusive single-number status.
Montague then proceeded to upgrade the crankcase with forged internals and dropped compression to around 9.8:1 (it comes stock with 10.4:1). The Kenne Bell 2.8L blower came off and on went the 3.6L Mammoth Twin Screw, which was configured to produce over 20 pounds of boost. Montague also changed the L99 camshaft to the more aggressive LS3 grind and to keep detonation away, Montague converted to a full return-style fuel system and instead of running high-octane gasoline, he opted for E85 fuel. Because the corn-based E85 fuel contains ethanol, it works great for forced-induction combinations since the incoming air becomes heated when compressed (which can sap precious ponies away and make tuning trickier); the E85 however, can have a cooling effect in the intake tract before being ignited. Kenne Bell's Jim Bell explains, "We went with the E85 fuel mostly for its detonation resilience and its cost effectiveness," he says. "But the ethanol in the E85 certainly doesn't hurt." Montague also installed a giant ice tank underhood that circulates ice water through the Mammoth blower, ensuring the coolest air charge possible. Once Montague made the changes to the short-block and put the Kenne Bell 3.6L Mammoth on the motor, the team laid down nearly 785 rwhp through stock catalytic converters on ST Motorsports' dyno. A higher stall converter was also implemented to the combo before heading out to see what his hefty (4,250 pounds) ride could muster. After a couple easy passes with the new setup, Montague laid down an oh-so-close 10.10 at 139 mph, but he didn't stop there and soon after, plans for a larger LS engine were in the works, again, with his sights set on the 9s.
His latest engine is more radical than his previous stock-block setups, but not by much; a stroker crank now displaces 408 ci, he finally ditched the stock exhaust manifolds for some long-tube headers, and a tighter converter that should be more effective with the added power. Although he admits the bone-stock suspension has a hard time holding the car's now 900-plus rear-wheel horsepower, Montague recently managed to reach his goal and ran a wicked 9.97 at 142 mph, with mad tire spin. "The car has a lot more in it," Montague says. "But the suspension is lacking right now and can't plant the power like it should, but it will." We suspect he'll be addressing that area next, and before we got off the phone he promised to put his ride in the low 9s and still be able to drive it everywhere.
They say if you want to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs, which is an overused statement that we feel best describes someone who is constantly pushing a stock car's boundaries in the name of performance, like Montague does, "We've always approached these cars with the idea of systematically finding the limits of stock parts, then upgrading what breaks." This method has allowed him to claim such titles as First 2011 GT Mustang powered by a Kenne Bell to run in the 10s all stock with just drag radials and First Dodge Challenger to run mid 10s with a stock engine with a Kenne Bell 2.8 in full street trim on drag radials, but Montague is not stopping there and aims to not only run low 9s, but also will be shooting for the 200-mph zone at the Texas Standing Mile in Beeville, Texas, in April. He says there's no doubt he'll do it and we believe it.