Strokers, blowers, nitrous, and the like are super cool if you have the cash. But there are also plenty of less expensive upgrades you can do to your LS-powered Camaro that are easy on the wallet and give a good bump in power. Two of the most common ones are ported throttle bodies and underdrive pulley systems.
A ported throttle body is simply a throttle body that has been machined to flow more air. Since engines are just big air pumps, more airflow typically equates to the ability to make more power. Black Betty, our 2001 Camaro Z28 project car lives in sunny California, and that means we need to pass the bi-annual smog check. Because of this, many of the power-making ideas that work on our pre-smog year cars, are non-starters on the ’01. Mike Norris of Mike Norris Motorsports told us that he could coax a few more ponies out of our LS1 with one of his ported VMAX throttle bodies. And since he was going to be in town, he even offered to do the install. According to Norris, “We found that the stock 75mm F-body unit flowed 796 to 798 cfm (at 18-inches of water) while the VMAX CNC-ported throttle body flowed anywhere from 828 to 829 cfm.” That increase in airflow means more power, especially in an engine like ours, with a slightly bigger cam and massaged heads.
The second part of our power play would consist of an underdrive crank damper from Summit Racing. As Norris stated, “An underdrive pulley swap is an affordable and relatively simple install, plus it doesn’t require any tuning since it’s just transferring some of the power from running accessories to the rear wheels.” To put these widgets to the test, we ordered up some parts and headed over to Spectre Performance in Ontario, California, since they were nice enough to offer up the use of their Mustang chassis dyno.