Correctly installing the Vette engine and tranny required some massaging of the stock subframe. To improve weight bias, the engine was positioned as far back and low as possible without repositioning the firewall. The subframe, which had all the seams welded, required notching to provide clearance for the low-mounted alternator and A/C compressor. Strengthening was also an issue, and reinforcement connectors were added to the lower portion of the subframe. When finished, the LS1 resided 2 inches further back than it does in a stock '00 Camaro.
Detailing was another element that was important to "Team Hotchkis." All parts were either painted or powdercoated to preserve and display the intricacy with which they were installed.
The LS1, which by this time had been accepted as a viable replacement powerplant for select high-end custom applications such as street rods, did, however, require a significant degree of preparation to work in the Camaro. At that point, there had been no previous installations into a Second-Generation F-Body. GM Performance gurus Gary Penn and Walt Campbell were instrumental in getting the parts and pieces necessary for the entire swap (things such as the electric fan and accessory drive system) while high-tech wizard Mark McPhail from GM Racing worked his magic on the temperamental computer system, even to the degree of personalizing the engine ID code so it read "Hotchkis."
Sweating The Details
When sailing in uncharted waters, one has to expect deviations from the original plan. When it got to the point of working with the fuel system, the wind began to blow in a circular direction, requiring more modifications than would have been necessary if they had simply installed an aftermarket fuel cell.
On paper, the plan was to purchase a plastic gas tank intended for a Fourth-Gen Camaro, replete with the fuel pump in place, then mount it, plumb the lines, and be ready to move on. In retrospect, it would have been much easier to fit a fuel cell and plumb it with steel braided lines. In order to properly fit the plastic tank, the trunk floor had to be removed and a new one was fabricated in its place, with stainless steel straps created to secure the new tank down. Then there was the wiring situation. The in-tank pump featured four wires, a special design GM connector plug and the wiring harness had two bare wires. To make everything hook up correctly, the fuel pump was wired directly to the computer and Team Hotchkis went through three $90-a-piece oxygen sensors before finding the correct plug and cutting it off so it could be used in the wiring system.
From there, the special fuel lines required for the transplant had to be fabricated using plastic line from Ford (GM didn't offer bare plastic OEM fuel line at the time) coupled with push fittings that were removed from various pre-made GM lines. When completed, the plastic hoses received a stainless mesh sleeve from Goodridge for protection.
Rounding out the trunk area of the Camaro was an Optima battery, wired into the car's electrical system with special cable from Tsunami Wiring.
Pumping Up The Basics
While the high-tech end of the project may have required a degree in automotive and electrical engineering, there was still plenty of basic car-crafting skill involved when it came to upgrading some of the areas more usually associated withconstruction of a classic cruiser.
The Corvette-inspired LS1 was chosen as the powerplant to reside between the '71's framera
The Hotchkis F-71 project was the idea of company founder John Hotchkis. The car began li