Nothing says “personalize it” quite like taking a body saw to your brand new ’12 Camaro SS. Cutting two gigantic, non-repairable holes where your fog lights used to be requires, well, dedication, to say it one way, and it’s certainly not a modification for those of us concerned with keeping out Camaro how it came from the dealership. But, cutting two major holes in your bumper also says that you really do care about setting your project apart from the others and, if you’re willing to take the step, is one modification that will certainly set you apart from the crowd. Elsewhere in this issue we’ve shown you how one can take an SS or RS and transform into a ZL1 look-a-like. But what if you literally want to transform your Camaro into Transformer?
Enter Advanced Composite Specialties (ACS) and the company’s line of aggressive, yet OE-quality front fascia bumper ports. Originally designed to mimic the bumper found on the Transformer’s Bumblebee Camaro from the infamous movie, the ACS line has evolved into a family of ports (T2 and T3, with others coming soon) that allow modifiers to mix and match options for a unique look. ACS doesn’t just offer bumper ports, of course, and combined with their unique lighting setups, front splitters, rear spoilers, and hood accessories, it’s possible to transform any factory stock Camaro into a real showstopper.
Now, it should be mentioned that ACS warns that “port installation is considered to be difficult and should be performed by a trained technician familiar with custom body work.” And that sounds serious, so we decided to try it on our own, without any of those qualifications, to see if an amateur could pull this off with simple hand tools. If we could do it, we’re sure you can but if you’re still not convinced (or willing to potentially ruin a perfectly good bumper in the process, know that ACS has you covered, offering complete 100-percent bolt-on bumper assemblies, which will ship to your door with everything complete and ready to bolt right on. But what’s the fun in that?!
1. The GM design team did an excellent job sculpting the SS front fascia, but that doesn't mean the aftermarket can't improve upon it. For our '12 Camaro project, we were looking to spice up the front-end with an aggressive set of bumper ports, a pair of show quality lights, and a new splitter for that race-inspired look, all without swapping bumpers or adding graphics.
2. Whether you’re a body shop pro or a do-it-yourself weekend warrior, you’ll appreciate the time and effort ACS put into the T2/T3 bumper port installation kit. The provided paper template lets you know where to “trim” and gave us the confidence we needed to make the first cut. Make sure you take your time to line this up perfectly… once you cut, there is no going back.
3. With the ACS trim line scribed onto the bumper, it was time to break out the body saw (you can also use a Dremel tool if you prefer) and cut the factory fog light hole out of the bumper. ACS recommends trimming the initial opening .25-inches smaller than the scribe line, to allow room to trim for perfect fitment, and we concur. Measure 58 times, cut 10.
4. There is a small portion of the inner bumper reinforcement that also needs to be trimmed to allow the ports to fit, and it can be handled using the same tools you cut the bumper with. Trimming here will not affect the safety or operation of the bumper, it’s just a small 3x2-inch section of plastic.
5. Cut, test fit, trim, test fit, clean up, test fit, cut a little more, test fit, relax, trim, clean, test fit. Rinse and repeat until you’re happy with the fitment of the ACS bumper ports. Remember, you’re going to be permanently affixing these to your Camaro, you want to take your time to get a perfect OE-quality fit and finish.
6. Speaking of the bumper ports, you may be wondering what they actually look like. For our installation, we chose to run with the T3 bumper ports, which give the Camaro nose an aggressive swept back look without taking anything away from the factory lines. The T3 ports ship with both driver and passenger side units, rear installation rings, a set of templates, quality instructions, and an adhesive to hold the assembly together.
7. Along with the bumper ports, ACS also sent us a pair of EagleT3 vertical port lights, which attach to the ports and run off of the factory fog light wiring. You can order these lights in a variety of configurations (Single, dual, triple, or quad) and they can really help illuminate your custom work during the day or night.
8. ACS did a great job with the lighting kit and no matter how many lights you add, you’re wiring job is a simple task. Simply install the lights onto the port using the supplied clip and screw, and then wire each light in series with another. One plug goes to the factory harness (you will need to wire the plug), and you’re all set of daytime running or manual operation.
9. Here you can see the T3 port installed by itself or with the trick triple LED lights. The modular design of ACS’s lighting allows end users to really customize the kit to their liking and whether you’re a fan of lighting accessories or a racer looking to use the ports to cooling, ACS has got you covered.
10. Of course, installing the ports isn’t just a matter of cutting a hole and stuffing them in place, and you will need to remove the front bumper to attach the installation rings and apply the adhesive. ACS includes great instructions for removing the front bumper and it can easily be done in your driveway with common handheld tools.
11. With the bumper on the ground, it was time to slide the T3 ports in place and test fir the installation rings. You can see where the inner bumper plastic needed to be trimmed, as well as how well the installation rings cover both the ports and the bumper hole.
12. Attaching the ports to the bumper requires sandwiching the rear installation ring, the OEM bumper assembly, and the front ports together and applying a .125-inch bead of adhesive around the rear installation ring. Prepped with a 50/50 isopropyl alcohol/water mix, the surface should be clean and free of debris before applying the adhesive.
13. Once you’ve laid down the bead, it’s time to clamp the ports down tight and allow the adhesive to set for 6-hours. The working time is about 12 minutes so you have time to verify the alignment of the ports before clamping it down for the long haul. Pro tip: final adjustment should be done once the adhesive is cured, so don’t worry if it needs some final tweaks to get everything perfect.
14. The adhesive takes time to cure – time we didn’t have on magazine deadline – so we’re going to skip ahead and show you the installation of our slick ACS T4 splitter and pretend that we waited overnight for the ports work to be completed. Here you can see the T4 splitter, which can be installed in about 15-minutes without giving up any additional ride height or front-end clearance in the process.
15. We’re using a lift for the installation but it could easily be done with the Camaro on jack stands if you don’t have lift access. With the under carriage rubber seal removed and the two center 10mm bolts out of the way, slide the splitter in place and re-install the two centermost 10mm bolts.
16. Honestly, the fitment of the ACS splitter was spot on right out of the box. It lined up perfectly flush with the contour of the bumper and hit the wheel well cutout perfectly on the passenger side. The driver side corner needed about an 1/8th of an inch shift rearward, which was done by loosening the 10mm bolts and sliding the splitter back.
17. With the fitment of the T4 splitter perfected, it was time to drill eight small 8mm holes in the bottom of the bumper to attach the pressure clips. The ACS splitter is already pre-drilled, which means all you need to do is slide a drill bit through the holes and push the provided pins up in place.
18. Boom. The ACS T3 ports, EagleT3 lights, and T4 splitter took our stock Camaro SS front fascia from mild to wild in no time. The T3 ports follow the factory bumper lines for a clean OE look and they compliment the aggressive but still street friendly front splitter perfectly. Our Camaro will have no trouble standing out from the crowd now, and we’re just getting started!