As the wind whipped around the building, rain splattering on the roof, Justin Hartenstein stood in a convention hall in Houston, Texas attempting to concentrate on the task at hand. He was at a conference introducing a new lighting product for his company AAC Enterprises, a company that specializes in high-end lighting accessories for the automotive aftermarket, when his world literally came crashing down around him. Wind, water and all of Mother Nature's fury had just overcome the 17th Street levee in New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina had begun her destruction of Metairie, Louisiana. In the moments that followed, a 450-foot section of the levee opened up and all hell broke loose. Justin knew, without having to actually see it happen, exactly what came next. The water--billions of gallons worth of it--rushed into the streets, overcoming everything in its path, including Justin's AAC Enterprises warehouse, which was located just blocks away from the breach.
In seconds, six-years worth of hard work, effort and dreams were destroyed. As fast as the levee broke, as fast as the water could rush in, all of Justin's inventory and financial security was destroyed and all he could do was sit by and watch it happen on television. Weeks later, when Justin was finally allowed back in to his warehouse he found an even worse situation than he imagined. The inventory was destroyed--that he already expected--and he also found out that all of his dealers, those waiting for pre-orders of parts, we're all dropping out, knowing that Justin wouldn't be able to deliver product in time. As the dealers dropped out, so did Justin's orders to his factory, which put his business relationship in trouble, a one-two punch that practically left his entire business in ruin.
Down, but not out, Justin was determined to get back on his feet and made a hasty and potentially regrettable decision to take all of the insurance money from his destroyed house and spend it on marketing and advertising for AAC. Yes, Justin's house was also destroyed in Katrina and instead of working to rebuild it right away, Justin took the money he had and put it back in his business, hoping that he could get everything back up and running quickly. Unfortunately, Katrina wasn't the only headline news in 2005 and by the time AAC was back up and running, the economic decline began to hit and Justin faced a new market, one which had limited discretionary income and much less demand for high-end lighting. Faced with a grim reality, Justin did what many other businesses wouldn't and decided it was time to get real, go to the people, open their minds and let years of proprietary information flow from within their company's headquarters. A massive media blitz followed as Justin went right to his customers, on YouTube, in print and on the forums and told them everything about his products, from the trade secrets to the benefits and costsùeverything was open for questioning and even his competitors could see what he AAC was up to.
The result of this open social marketing is what you see before you. Well, what you see here is actually just a part of Justin's INC. Magazine 500 business that grew more than 900-percent in just a couple of years, but we find it the most interesting. From the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, this single-turbo equipped V-6 Camaro was born, an unlikely birth indeed. As you would expect of a lighting and show professional, Justin's 2010 Camaro looks wild and is stuffed with every light and electronic gizmo he could dream up, including a set of Oracle amber halo headlights, which grab attention wherever they go, especially when paired with the matching fog light halo lights.
Lighting aside, Justin treated the V-6 Camaro to a host of additional exterior upgrades, many of them coming from Revolution Styling, including a set of aggressive front fenders that pair perfectly the custom rear quarter modifications that Justin had planned. A matching Revolution Styling hood and spoiler were added to Justin's rolling show piece and the entire car was sent over to Causeway Collision in New Orleans where it was treated to the custom Cyber Grey Metallic and Ignition Orange Metallic paint job that you see before you today. To take the Camaro over the top, USW built Justin a set of 22-inch front hoops and 24-inch rears, which are a true 2-piece design that were painted to match the rest of the vehicle. Love 'em or hate 'em, you're not going to forget this wheel and tire combination anytime soon.
Even though Justin's business focuses on looks and automotive styling, don't think that Justin was going to ignore the Camaro's performance. Knowing that the LS3-equppied V-8's were good runners, Justin turned to STS Turbo to set him up with a potent rear-mount single-turbo system for the V-6, hoping that it could eclipse the LS3 in terms of power without giving anything up. All said and done, the bolt-on STS Turbo system, combined with an aggressive front-mount intercooler and 6 pounds of boost, almost doubled the horsepower of Justin's Camaro, taking it from a 241-rwhp stocker to a 400-rwhp V-8 killer. "After driving the turbocharged V-6 with almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the SS cars feel nose heavy and lumber around the track. The turbo V-6 is light and the motor has plenty of power. Hearing the turbine spool up is like a jet when it takes off."
On track, Justin's Camaro also shines (no lighting pun intended) thanks to an upgraded set of KW Variant III coil-overs, which help this monster handle well across any surface. In corners, the turbo V-6 also gets help from a set of Pfadt sway bars, which Justin had installed to further improve the ride and handling without sacrificing ride quality or weight balance. Of course, that's the name of the game with Justin--balance. Balancing his crazy business with what life throws at him. Balancing a multi-million dollar company on the needs of a market and understanding the customer comes first, no matter what. The balance of free time and company time, the ying and yang of playing with his turbo V-6 and showing off his lighting accessories to the market. For a guy who literally had his business swept away from under him, this turbo V-6 represents a lot more than just a car and for that, we appreciate every single detail of it.
|Car: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro|
|Owner:|| Justin Hartenstein|
|Block:|| LY7, 217ci|
|Compression ratio:|| 11.3:1|
|Heads:|| Stock, 4-valves per cylinder|
|Cam:|| Stock, dual overhead, variable valve timing|
|Pistons:|| Stock, cast aluminum|
|Crankshaft:|| Stock, forged|
|Rods:|| Stock, powdered metal|
|Throttle body:|| Stock|
|Fuel injectors:|| Stock, direct injection|
|Fuel pump:|| Stock, mechanical|
|Ignition:|| Stock, coil-near-plug|
|Engine management:|| Stock, tuned by Trifecta Performance|
|Power Adder:|| STS 60-1 turbo|
|Blow Off Valve:|| STS / Turbosmart 52mm|
|Wastegate:|| STS / Turbosmart 38mm|
|Intercooler:|| STS Front Mount Intercooler|
|Torque Converter:|| Stock|
|Driveshaft:|| Stock, 2-piece|
|Front suspension:|| KW Variant 3 coil-over shocks, Pfadt swaybar|
|Rear suspension:|| Stock 4.5-link, KW Variant 3 coil-over shocks, Pfadt swaybar|
|Rear end:|| Stock IRS, 3.27 gear, axles, posi|
|Brakes:|| Stoptech 6-piston calipers front and rear, 14-inch rotors front, 13-inch rear|
|Wheels:|| USW Crossover, 22x9 front, 24x10.5 rear|
|Front tires:|| Falken FK452 265/30/22 |
|Rear tires:|| Falken FK452 275/30/24|
|Current mileage:|| 1,000|