Nail the go-pedal and watch the tach climb. If you're behind the wheel of one of today's late-model musclecars, you'll enjoy the thrill of a broad and powerful torque curve, as well as the civil street manners that computer-controlled engine tuning offers.
After purchasing a super-clean F-body for commerce on Southern California's freeways, Ed Calaba wanted to refine the performance of his LS1 engine while still maintaining the reliability and mileage the original package offered. He began by allowing the motor to breathe a little better with the addition of an Andy Granatelli mass airflow sensor, a BBK 80mm throttle-body, and an LS1 Motorsports airbox fitted with a K&N air filter. He trashed the stock exhaust system and fitted a freer-flowing Flowmaster package.
With these parts, Ed immediately noticed the improvement in performance but realized that reprogramming the stock computer configuration would provide a certain synergy. For this, he chose a Hypertech Power Programmer that plugs into the Camaro's underdash DLC (Data Link Connector). By answering a series of simple Power Programmer prompts, the Camaro's computer would learn how to improve the vehicle's onboard tuning and to alter the transmission shift points as well. In a nutshell, he's been able to increase the Camaro's fun factor. We wanted to learn how well this worked, so we joined Ed as he cycled the Hypertech Power Programmer with the help of Magnuson Products' tuning guru John Germanson. Germanson has spent the last few decades running dynos on computer-controlled Camaros and modifying plenty of late-model iron. He is also very familiar with Chevrolet's latest LS1 performance tuning requirements. With the PP in hand, Germanson simply connected the lead under the dash, tabbed through, and responded to a series of questions displayed on the programmer screen. The device is able to alter engine tuning, rev limiter, coolant fan operating range, and top speed limiter. If the tire size or axle ratio differs from stock, the programmer allows the user to enter those changes as well. It also alters the shift points of the automatic transmission (in 1-mph increments) and shift firmness. Ed chose to increase the firmness by 25 percent. The real beauty of the programmer is that any of these changes can be modified or returned to the stock setting by simply reconnecting the unit. With all of Ed's choices entered, Germanson simply pressed "Y" (yes) to program while we waited for the reprogramming to complete. The entire process took about one hour.
Ed fired up his LS1 and we testdrove it on the open road, quickly feeling the crisper shifts and broader torque curve. The LS1's performance from off-idle and through the midrange was noticeably increased. So with just an afternoon's work and a few entries in the programmer, you too can modify your late-model Camaro's performance, but most importantly your fun level. That translates into performance you can feel.