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Project American Heroes II Unveiling at the Joliet Super Chevy Show
When we started mulling over what mill to stuff under the hood of our Project American Heroes '69 Camaro, we knew it had to be something special. After all, this ride was being built as a tribute to the men and women in our armed services, so nothing wimpy or yawn-inducing would suffice. It needed to be civilized and refined when cruising, yet capable of laying some serious hurt when needed.
Our first idea was to go with a big-block. After all, that would certainly get us some snappy power levels, but the weight penalty wouldn't help handling, and big-blocks are known for being pretty thirsty at the pump. A small-block would solve the weight issue, but the loss of displacement would hurt the performance numbers. Then it hit us. What we needed was a big-inch small-block.
The key to our build was this aluminum LS7 block provided by Matt Murphy over at GMMG. The
And because losing weight is just as good as making more power, we decided that the engine should be as light as possible. After talking it over with Kory Enger of Turn Key Engine Supply in Oceanside, California, we pulled the trigger on running a 427-cubic-inch (427.7, to be exact) LS7-based engine. This way we could have it all: big-block displacement, fuel-sipping EFI, and lightweight aluminum architecture.
The first step was sourcing a seven-liter LS7 block. This turned out to be the toughest part of the build since nobody seemed to have one in stock. Luckily, we were smart enough to call LS-guru and fourth-gen Camaro aficionado Matt Murphy of GMMG. He dug deep into his black book, made some calls, and managed to find us a virgin aluminum block hiding in Texas. Even better, he donated it to the cause!
For a rotating assembly, Lunati stepped up to the plate with its top-of-the-line Pro-Series crank, rods, and Wiseco forged pistons. Chris Douglas, of Comp Cams, hooked us up with all of our valvetrain components and tossed in a set of massaged Racing Head Service (RHS) Gen-III 225cc heads. Topping it all off is a Weiand intake from Bill Tichenor over at Holley.
This Lunati Pro Series forged crank (four-inch stroke, PN J0711ER) will handle anything we throw at it. It's American made from the highest quality 4340 steel, and each rod journal is drilled with a Y-inch or O-inch lightening hole to reduce inertia weight. Even though all LS7 GM engines run a 58-tooth reluctor wheel, Turn Key had us order the crank with a 24x wheel. This will make programming and tuning the 427 LS engine a snap
With a huge stack of parts loaded in the back of our truck, we headed over to Turn Key Engine Supply, which was donating its considerable skills-and more than a few parts-to getting this engine fired up and ready to power our '69 Camaro.