2000 Chevy Camaro SS - GM High-Tech Performance Magazine (2023)

Nothing Melts The Icy Stuff Like A Red-Hot Camaro SS Pushing 552 RWHP

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Barry KluczykWriter

In the utopia that we all dream of as the perfect car world, the pavement is smooth, flat, and deep black. Hash marks are located every 1,320 feet and corners enable tail-wagging oversteer with the barest of effort. In this world, we auto writers and photographers find nary a cell tower, dumpster, nor decrepit fence to disturb a feature-photo location. Twilight lasts for two hours, allowing perfect lighting throughout the entire shoot. And yes, in this world, the local, friendly policeman opens the trunk of his cruiser to pull out a bottle of burnout-inducing water-then politely stands guard to prevent stray minivans from crossing into the shot.

Unfortunately, a few moments of contemplating such a "Second Life" version of auto-utopia is quickly met by the cold splash of reality. The car's builder, Kurt Urban, was a trooper during our compromised photo shoot however, opening up his shop to accommodate our camera equipment. He also hopped in and out of the car repeatedly, in 20-degree weather, positioning it to suit our whims. He gingerly laid down an excellent burnout in the parking lot. Luckily, the pavement was already damp from the snow and slush-the trick was keeping it out of the slush and off the ice, which he did admirably.

Restraining the Camaro was harder than it sounds. With 552 rear-wheel horsepower and 455 lb-ft to the tires, the antsy car didn't want to sit still when the clutch was disengaged.

"There's a lot of power there," Urban says. "It tricks you because it idles so well and seems so docile, but it's deceiving. For a naturally-aspirated combination, the power is tremendous."

Indeed, it is. The Camaro's original LS1 is long gone and in its place is a C5-R-based 427-cubic-inch engine with LS7-trumping capability. And more than merely an assemblage of carefully matched, high-performance components, it is also a visually appealing piece of underhood art-from the polished intake manifold to the deep-black valve covers.

As noted, the engine's foundation is the exotic (and expensive) GM Racing C5-R cylinder block. Designed for the rigors of racing, it is made from 356 T6M aluminum and goes through a litany of machining and inspection processes that other production-type blocks don't, including X-raying and "hipping." The 427-inch displacement is derived from 4.125-inch bores and a 4.00-inch stroke. A 4340-forged Callies Magnum crankshaft provides that four-inch stroke on a set of Howards I-beam connecting rods. They're made of 4340 billet steel and measure 6.125-inches in length. Atop the rods is a set of JE forged aluminum pistons (with Speed-Pro rings). When combined with the cylinder heads, they give a nominal compression ratio of 11.2:1.

That's a fair bit of squeeze on a street engine, but not out of line for its airflow capability-this thing packs a lot of atmosphere into the combustion chambers. A pair of All Pro LSW square-port cylinder heads houses those chambers. The Ohio-based company's heads have a 12-degree valve angle that maximizes flow efficiency, with intake ports measuring 284 cc. These are big-volume heads and they feature six-bolt clamping capability. Performance of the LSW heads for Joe Files' engine was optimized by having them ported by West Coast Cylinder Heads. They were also filled with titanium 2.200-inch intake valves and 1.600-inch exhaust valves. Other valvetrain components include Isky "Tool Room" 9995 dual springs, Smith Brothers pushrods, and Jesel 1.7 ratio shaft-mounted rocker arms.

As it stands, the 427 engine's Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshaft pushes toward the edge of the springs' capability, with a whopping .702-inch lift on both the intake and exhaust sides. Duration is 260 degrees on the intake side and 266 on the exhaust.

Channeling air to the LSW heads is a Wilson LS7-type Billet Bank intake manifold. This sheetmetal monster features CNC-carved aluminum cylinder bank sides and an internal design that optimizes airflow for high-rpm, big-cube engines, like Files' 427. The manifold is filled with a set of 60-pound fuel injectors; Wilson-supplied fuel rails; and a F.A.S.T. 90mm, cable-operated throttle body.

A custom cold-air induction system was fabricated and draws air from the driver's front corner of the chassis. Other engine components and features include a custom dry-sump oiling system, Armstrong powdercoated valve covers, GM ignition coils, and a set of Kooks 1 7/8 x 2-inch step headers. The headers feed a custom-built three-inch, stainless exhaust system that blows into a pair of Stainless Works Bullet mufflers. When it comes to fueling the engine and keeping the air/fuel ratio on an even keel, a custom fuel tank was crafted from aluminum and matched with a high-volume Bosch external pump, with Aeromotive filters. It's a totally custom fuel delivery system that is directed by a Big Stuff 3 engine management system.

As we mentioned, the engine combination contributed to 552 horsepower and 455 lb-ft at-the-tire readings. We figure that's about 660 horsepower and 550 lb-ft at the flywheel.

The Camaro's 427 engine funnels its torque through a Liberty-built T56 that features a Viper output shaft and a Spec Stage 3+ clutch and an aluminum flywheel. The torque winds its way via a Dynotech 6061 aluminum driveshaft to a Strange-built 12-bolt rearend. It is filled with an Eaton "Super Strength" posi-type diff and a set of U.S. Gear 4.10s. A set of 33-spline axles stretches through the axletubes, where they're capped with Brembo Sport rotors (slotted), stainless brake lines, and Hawk HPS pads. The rear brake calipers are stock, but powdercoated red. The front brakes feature Stop Tech two-piece slotted rotors that measure 332 mm wide by 32 mm thick. They are acted upon by Stop Tech's ST-40 four-piston calipers. Stainless brake lines and Axxis "Ultimate" pads complete the stopping hardware.

Bolted to the rotors at each corner is a set of CCW SP500 wheels with Helios "Metallight" coating. The unique, "black chrome" effect of the coating gives the wheels high-end appearance that is simultaneously sinister looking. They look terrific to our eyes.

The wheels measure 18x10 inches in the front and 18x11 inches in the rear; and they're wrapped by a set of Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires, measuring P275/35ZR18 up front and P315/30ZR18 in the rear. These are easily among the best performance tires available today and they're a great match to the CCW wheels.

The PS2 tires deliver commendable grip on the street and their performance is complemented by a totally revamped suspension system. Up front, it starts with a UMI "Road Race" K-member, onto which are bolted LG Motorsports coilovers and tubular upper control arms. GM's 1LE lower control arms are used and a Hotchkis stabilizer bar was bolted on for good measure, too. The replacement tubular K-member provides more room under the hood for items such as the dry-sump oiling system and is 25 pounds lighter than the factory engine cradle. The LG Motorsports catalog was raided again for the rear suspension, including their coilovers, Panhard bar, lower control arms, and torque arm. A homemade Panhard bar brace works with an Unbalanced Engineering Panhard bar relocation kit. The relocation kit lowers the roll center by four inches and levels it for the car's lowered stance. The payoff is improved grip during cornering.

While the Camaro's exterior is stock, save for the SS-logo grille insert, the interior has been thoroughly reworked. The front seats were swapped for leather-trimmed Recaros and Sparco five-point harnesses, while the rear seat was omitted altogether. That's fine, because the LG Motorsports harness bar that crosses the interior behind the front seat would make for a very uncomfortable ride back there. Other interior changes include replacing the stock steering wheel/airbag with a Momo wheel, adding a Momo shift knob, and sprinkling the instrument panel with a brace of Auto Meter gauges. A custom carbon-fiber dashboard insert houses the tach, speedo, fuel level, volts, and oil pressure gauges. A twin-gauge A-pillar pod holds fuel pressure and oil temperature gauges.

"The interior absolutely has a race-ready functional look to it, but it is comfortable and perfectly suited to everyday driving," says Urban.

Indeed, blending race car aesthetics with streetable functionality was Joe Files' vision for the Camaro. To us, presentation is just as important as an impressive dyno readout and that's what we see in this F-body. From the polished and anodized components under the hood, to the just-right wheels and racy-yet-comfortable interior, it is clear this Camaro was built with a plan and executed with a sharp eye for detail.

Cars like this make waiting out the winter worth every minute.

Data File {{{2000 Camaro}}} SS
Owner: Joe Files
Block: C5-R, 427cid
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Heads: All Pro LSW aluminum, ported by WCCH, 2.20 intake/1.60 exhaust valves
Camshaft: Comp Cams hydraulic roller, .702/.702-inch lift, 260/266 duration at .050
Pushrods: Smith Brothers
Rocker Arms: Jesel 1.7 ratio
Valvesprings: Isky
Pistons: JE forged
Rings: Speed-Pro
Crankshaft: Callies, 4340 forged steel
Rods: Howards I-beam, 4340 billet, 6.125-inch
Intake Manifold: Wilson Manifolds Billet Bank
Throttle Body: F.A.S.T. 90mm
Fuel Injectors: 60 lb/hr
Ignition System: Stock coil-on-plug
Engine Management: Big Stuff 3
Exhaust: Kooks 1 7/8 to 2-inch stepped headers, 3-inch exhaust, Stainless Works Bullet mufflers
Transmission: T56, built by {{{Liberty}}}
Clutch: Spec Stage 3+
Driveshaft: Dynotech aluminum
Rearend: Strange 12-bolt, 33-spline axles, 4.10 gear, posi
Rear Suspension: LG Motorsports coilovers, Panhard bar, lower control arms, Hotchkis sway bar
Front Suspension: LG Motorsports coilovers, upper control arms, GM 1LE lower control arms, UMI K-member, Hotchkis sway bar
Brakes: Stop Tech 4-piston front, stock rear
Wheels: CCW SP500 18x10 front, 18x11 rear
Tires: Michelin PS2 275/35ZR18 front, 315/30ZR18 rear
Current Mileage: 13,000

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