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1982 Chevy Camaro Ignition & Nitrous Upgrade - My Generation Camaro, Part VII

A Hotter Ignition And Nitrous Equals 13.15 At 104.33 Mph

Jeff Smith Apr 1, 2002

Step By Step

We chose the Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) Super Power Shot system because it appeared to be the best deal for the money.

The stock Camaro ignition consists of a small-cap HEI distributor with a separate coil. This is an inductive ignition system that will fire a normally aspirated engine, but it has trouble with nitrous.

We cured the ignition problems by adding a Crane digital multi-spark ignition box and matching coil to the stock ignition. This system uses the stock distributor to trigger the spark, but the power comes from the amplifier. It’s also 50-state emissions-legal.

With the better ignition installed, we were able to plug the 150hp jets into the Super Power Shot plate under the stock Q-jet carburetor.

Tim Moore discovered that using non-projected-nose spark plugs such as the AC R43T is best with nitrous. Moore also tightened up the plug gap to 0.30 inch to make it easier on the ignition system.

Dragstrip testing is always at the mercy of the weather, but this time we were blessed with cool temperatures that certainly helped the e.t. and speed. With the 150hp shot of nitrous, the Camaro bumped its best overall time to 13.15 at 104.33 mph.

We also mounted a set of Mickey Thompson 26x8.5-16 soft compound DOT tires on a pair of borrowed Center Line wheels to help us hook this newfound power.

For a little more money, you could also step up to a Crane HI-6TRC CD ignition that features a cockpit-mounted ignition retard. The retard features up to a 20-degree adjustment. The box also offers a specific plug-’n-go wiring harness that fits the late-model Camaro ignition.

Going fast is all about eliminating the weak links in the performance chain. This is the seventh part of our buildup of the My Generation Camaro, a car that started life as a lackluster 305-powered slug with a TH700-R4 overdrive automatic that ran 17.40s at only 78 mph. In our last episode, the Camaro had improved to the tune of 13.82/ 100.23 mph with the help of a rebuilt 305, exhaust, heads, a mild cam, and a little squirt of nitrous.

Therein lies the rub. If you've followed our attempts to turn this mild-mannered Camaro into a budget-based boulevard bully, you may remember we ran into a snag. The NOS Super Power Shot nitrous kit worked a little too well. The 125hp shot worked flawlessly, pushing the Camaro into the high 13s, but we wanted more. With the 150hp shot, the stock ignition couldn't fire the additional cylinder pressure and popped and banged all the way down the track, slowing the car down.

It was clear after one pass that we needed a hotter spark, so we put a call in to Crane Cams. What you may not know is that Crane has been busy building quality ignition systems for several years now and has recently released a budget-oriented digital multi-spark ignition that was just what our Camaro needed. The Crane box generates roughly twice the spark energy of the stock system and promised to light the fire in our unassuming Camaro. Not only is this system affordable ($130 through Summit), but the box is also 50-state emissions legal so we could bolt it on the Camaro guilt-free.

The Camaro's owner, Tim Moore, also did some research and discovered that hefty doses of nitrous not only require a colder spark plug, but also a smaller gap and a non-projected-nose spark plug. Moore decided on an AC 43T plug that is one step colder than the stock heat range set at 0.030-inch gap. A colder heat range plug means that more heat is transferred from the plug center to the shell, preventing possible damage to the insulator. The shorter nose also means less heat builds up in the ground strap. With nitrous, a longer ground strap turns into a glow plug, igniting the mixture before the intake valve closes, creating the backfire. In addition, a narrower plug gap also makes it easier for the ignition system to fire the plug at the elevated cylinder pressures. As a general rule, increased cylinder pressures and wider plug gaps increase the voltage required to jump the gap.

Armed with this new ignition system, Moore spent about 90 minutes plugging the new Crane ignition box into the Camaro along with the matching Crane PS-91 coil. Moore used the easy-to-understand instructions to splice the digital box's wiring into the factory harness with quick-disconnect pieces supplied so that he could quickly reconnect the factory ignition system if required. We didn't need to go to the track to discover the first benefit of the new Crane ignition. The Camaro had always suffered from a mild off-idle stumble that resisted repeated attempts to cure. But the Crane multi-spark ignition box eliminated the stumble and the engine seemed more crisp and responsive to throttle input. After a short trial period, we headed to the track to see if the digital box could support a heavier shot of nitrous.

Now we were ready to test the larger 150hp NOS Super Power Shot plate system. Moore swapped the larger jets into the plate and we were ready to rumble. After a couple of runs, Moore launched the Camaro on just the engine and then hit the nitrous button about 20 feet out. The Camaro jumped; the tires spun slightly and then hooked up to a best-ever corrected 13.15 at 104.33 mph pass. This was a big improvement over the Camaro's previous best nitrous pass of 13.82/100.23.

This represents a 0.40-second and 4.10-mph gain, which won't put us in the NHRA record books, but it is really close to that magical 12-second goal. And this is a bunch closer to high 12s than our original mid-17-second pass. Perhaps best of all, we've spent less than $6,000 on this entire project to run low 13s at 104 mph. This is slightly quicker than a brand-new Camaro for less than one quarter of the cost.

But we're still not satisfied. We're spreading rumors of a mild 383ci engine and we are also anticipating an entire rebuild of the suspension as we dive into the chassis to coax the Camaro into turning a few aggressive corners as well. So stick with us—we're not done flogging on this Camaro just yet.


Crane Cams
Daytona Beach, FL 32117

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