Our headline pretty much tells our story in a nutshell. We began testing on our bone stock 1994 Camaro Z28 automatic on January 27 of this year and it's been a race against time to get our mods completed and drag tested so that we (and our participating manufacturers) don't look like complete idiots. As the weather warms and air density decreases, we've found it increasingly difficult to see an improvement in ET, but we're marching forward and seeing some modest improvements nonetheless.
This latest batch of mods consists of a Precision Industries Vigilante torque converter (2800-rpm stall, retail price: $699), a TransGo shift kit ($109.99, street price) and a complete Hi-Pro trans overhaul by GM overdrive expert Eric Schertz of Countyline Transmission.
Before we jump in, we need to give Eric Schertz a big thanks. GM guys who hang out at Englishtown know Eric is a fixture there with his 9- and 10-second turbo Buicks. He's also a hardcore Impala SS man who knows his overdrive trannys. As a long-time GMHTP fan, Eric has been nagging us for years to build us a Hi-Pro transmission, and we finally took him up on his offer. Boy, are we glad too! As the resident ET junkie at Countyline, Eric has developed a range of performance-oriented overdrive transmissions he calls the Hi-Pro line, which distinguishes them from Countyline's standard mom 'n' pop rebuilds. When we started to see smoke from burning trans fluid, Eric came to the rescue and freshened our 4L60E with a Hi-Pro upgrade. Turns out a bushing on our pump was worn and puking fluid on our exhaust. It looked worse than it was, but we would've been in for a AAA tow before long.
Like we said, Eric works at Countyline Transmission out on "The Island." Over the years he has garnered the reputation of being one of the most respected GM overdrive trans experts in the tri-state area (that's New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for you left coasters). This made him the perfect guy to handle our converter and shift kit install. In fact, Precision Industries and TransGo happen to be some of Eric's favorite vendors for high performance GMs (he says, "Both make my job easier..."), so Eric had absolutely no problem with our choice of converter and shift-improver kit.
Our Vigilante converter, a favorite among hardcore F-body racers, was designed to stall at 2800 rpm. That's a fairly common size due to the fact that computer-controlled 4L60E transmissions in '94 - '95 F-bodies seem unable to shift properly with stall speeds above 2800 rpm (on a hard launch-usually your best-the engine tags the rev limiter in 1st, requiring the driver to lift throttle to shift into 2nd). Nobody we've talked to knows exactly why, but later ('96 - up) F-bodies can get away with more stall with minor (or sometimes zero!) tweaks to the calibration. As a side note, prior to this, we had installed Vigs in both our 1988 Firebird Formula ("Chippin' Away," July 2001) and Jay Heath's '96 Trans Am ("Stall Tactics," Nov. 2000). Like a charm, the Vig knocked five tenths and four tenths, respectively, off each car's ET.
In our research, we found pretty much the entire world recommends a TranGo shift kit along with a Vigilante converter. Even Precision Industries gave the TransGo kit the hearty thumbs up. One of the main reasons they complement each other so well is that any high-stall converter tends to soften gear shifts and the TransGo kit firms them back up. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, especially on a dual-purpose street/strip car.