OK, there’s no denying it: This ’12 Camaro SS project car isn’t a particularly svelte machine by any possible measure. Weighing in at well over 4,000 pounds, dropping weight off this Zeta-chassis fifth-gen is no simple task. We’ve lost a few with the Seibon Carbon hood, fenders, and trunk lid, but it barely made a dent in the Camaro’s mass. While we could just simply tear everything out of it that we don’t need, that’s not the route we’re looking to take.
Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The idea behind this build is to have a solid and bulletproof open track and autocross machine that could be driven anywhere reliably, comfortably, and legally, a true GT machine—and still be competitive. It might be a tall order, but anything worth doing is worth working hard for.
This long-term project build was started in the pages of GM High Tech Performance magazine, and we should note that it’s already pumping out almost 600 horsepower to the pavement. The heart of this machine is an i-1 ProCharger-blown LS3 with a set of Kooks long-tube headers, Green cats, and catback exhaust. We’ve upgraded the suspension, the brakes, the wheels, and the tires, and we already have a ton of other parts sitting on the shelf waiting for installation. There’s more work to do to the drivetrain to make it solid and more powerful, but a healthy diet never hurt anyone, either.
After a few outings around the Jupiter, Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway road circuit, it quickly became apparent that the stock cloth seats in the Camaro 1SS weren’t up to the task of a serious track car. Comfortable? Yes. Supportive? Not with the suspension mods we’ve made. We wanted to kill two birds with one stone: get a new set of more supportive racing-style seats and drop a few more pounds off this beast. In order to do so, we rang up the folks at Corbeau Seats and Design Engineering (DEI).
Corbeau recently launched its new LG1 model seats that feature a contemporary design, while being snug and supportive. They come in a variety of colors, and although an all-black version would have matched the rest of our stock interior perfectly, we wanted to switch it up a little bit, and make it stand out. Plus, we just had the car wrapped and with the newly applied matte green body, we felt this version, with tan with black inserts added to the “military look” a bit further. The seats come in two sizes: the standard version that will seat a passenger with up to a 38-inch waist or the LG1 Wide that fits those enthusiasts with up to a 42-inch waistband. Your author is a bit more slender than most, so it made sense to order up the standard version for the additional support.
And since we were going through the trouble of pulling out the seats and pulling back the carpet to install the Corbeau-supplied seat mounts, we ordered lightweight sound deadening from the good folks at DEI. They sent us their Boom Mat Thermal Acoustic Control and Vibration Damping Material that we will apply accordingly throughout the cockpit of the car, replacing the heavy OEM sound deadening.
We knew if we applied the right amount of material, we’d not only be able to drop some weight off of this crate, but be able to maintain, if not improve upon, the levels of sound deadening and heat resistance. So enough talk, let’s get down to business, and put our Camaro on a diet.
01, 02, 03, 04. The LG1 seat is one of the latest offerings from Corbeau. It’s good looking, comfortable, very supportive, and reasonably priced. They’re mostly covered in microsuede, but feature sections of leather in specific high-wear locations for increased life. If you’re a serious open track or autocross aficionado, spending a few bucks on more supportive seats make absolute sense to complement the grippy tires and road-hugging suspension in which you’ve already invested.
05. We also made sure we ordered up Corbeau’s manually adjustable seat mounts. Since they’re manual, and not power like what our Camaro came with, we’ll drop a few pounds with them as well. Remember, we’re shooting for that balance of performance and comfort, and losing the power seats for manually adjustable ones is a price we’re willing to pay for more performance.
06, 07, 08, 09. Our supercharged track terror sees a lot of heat and humidity in Florida, so while we were eager to toss the heavy OEM sound deadening material aside, we were just as eager to try out DEI’s Boom Mat series of products. DEI sent over its Under Carpet Thermal Acoustic Control padding, and the heat resistant Thermal Vibration Damping System. The TVDS helps quell the noise and vibrations you typically get in a modified car with stiff suspension, a high-lift camshaft, or solid engine and body mounts. Our Camaro is quickly headed in the direction to having all three. The UCTAC is a padding not unlike the OEM material, but much lighter and more noise and heat resistant, and offers the perfect balance for guys like us whose daily driver is also their weekend warrior.
10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Our resident shop guy, Darrell Kunda, handled the entire job singlehandedly using simple hand tools. He started by disconnecting the battery, power seats, and airbag connectors, and removing the front two bolts that hold the seats in place. Reclining the front seats forward, allowing access to rear made our job a lot easier in removing the rear two bolts on each side; unbolting the stock seat mounts. Then we pulled them.
15, 16. With our stock seats out of the car, we wanted to know just how much of a weight difference there was between the cloth stockers and Corbeau’s suede LG1s. So we did a side-by-side comparison between the two by stealing the scale out of our mailroom and weighing each one. As it turns out, each Corbeau LG1 weighed 16 pounds less, compared to the cloth, power stockers – for a combined savings of 32 pounds.
17, 18, 19, 20. Since we had bigger plans than just swapping the front seats out, we also had to pull the rear seat, shifter, console, sail panels, and kick panels. With those obstructions out of the way it allowed us the opportunity to remove the OEM sound deadening. As it turns out, there was quite a bit of padding, hard plastic, and Styrofoam sound deadening throughout the interior—even behind the rear passenger sail panels. Of course, we pulled it all out, and replaced it with our DEI Boom Mat materials. We wanted to keep our car quiet inside while we commuted to the office, and drive across the country to events like LS Fest, LSX Shootout, and the numerous open track events we plan on attending with this car in the future.
21, 22, 23. With our borrowed mailroom scale still in our shop, we used it to weigh the Camaro’s factory materials. As it turns out, we dropped another 18 pounds by replacing them with DEI products, and ditching the foam padding covering the rear mounted battery in the trunk. We thought about ditching the back seat, especially since they didn’t match our Corbeaus. In the end, however, the foam padding that makes up the rear seat is so light, we decided on keeping for convenience—at least until we install a roll bar.
24, 25. Now it was time to put everything back together; starting with the Boom Mat Thermal Acoustic Material. Taking measurements, we were surprised to learn that the Boom Mat measured almost exactly the same width as the footwell sections of the floorboard of the fifth-gen Camaro. We had to do some slight trimming, but otherwise, it fit in almost perfectly. If you want to utilize Boom Mat in your car, but don’t have a fifth-gen, you will have to take the appropriate measurements according to your car’s floorpan. It comes in sheets and peels right off of the wax paper it’s attached to. There’s no messy gluing or pasting. In fact, the Boom Mat actually comes in a kit with a roller and razor knife to help you cut and apply the material.
26, 27, 28, 29. We spoke with DEI’s Mike Zenone, and he said we should only apply it in locations likely to have high levels of vibration. We applied it in all four corners of the footwell sections, on top of the transmission tunnel, and just below the dashboard on the interior side of the firewall. While many enthusiasts have a knack for covering the entire floorpan with this kind of material, Mike advised against it, saying it’s a bit excessive and unnecessary to do so. Its main job is to keep high engine heat out of the cabin, keep the road and engine noise to a minimum, and the interior quiet and cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Covering the entire floor with it would merely add unnecessary weight. The Under Carpet Thermal Acoustic Control padding came in a huge 20-foot long, 54-inch wide roll, which we did have to measure and cut accordingly to fit into the footwell sections of the Camaros floorpan. It’s a 1/2-inch thick, and DEI will deliver it to your door in either 54- or 72-inch widths, and either in 10- or 20-foot lengths. You can also buy it in 1-foot lengths, with a 54-inch width, too.
30, 31, 32. Buttoning up the interior of the car was straightforward. Since we managed to keep the factory carpet in the car, the sail panels, kick panels, front and rear seats installed just as they were originally. Lining up the Corbeau seat frames was an easy step too, since they came made especially for our Camaro.
33. And here’s the finished product. As you can see, the Corbeau seats look right at home in our Camaro. The seating position is now a little lower than stock, and although it didn’t affect driver control, it did further the effect of the “bunker feeling” you get when you sit in a fifth-gen. However, if you’re anything over 5-ft, 8-in. tall, you’ll welcome the increased headroom—especially in situations where you have to wear a helmet. After we shot this install story, we took the car home a few times, and to Palm Beach International Raceway, which is a 7-hour round trip from our office. And both off and on the track, the Corbeau LG1s were more comfortable than the OEM seats. In terms of support, they were on an entirely different level.
34. We’ve hit the streets with our Camaro again. Not only did we drop 50 pounds, but we maintained the factory level of sound deadening and heat resistance inside the cabin. If your Camaro is your daily driver, or you drive for long periods of time, Boom Mat is definitely worth the investment. And if you’re looking for much more support and comfort from your seats when you’re thrashing it around the road course, the Corbeau LG1 will not disappoint.