Chevrolet Camaro SS - Obsidian
We take a look at Johnathan Roberts' 2002 Chevrolet Camaro SS
From the July, 2012 issue of GM High-Tech Performance
By Justin Cesler
Photography by Stephen Kim
Texas, man. We've said it before and we're going to say it again, there is just something about Houston, Texas, that turns normal everyday enthusiasts into crazed power-hungry lunatics. We see this all the time here at GMHTP, of course, but when a tech sheet comes to us from the Lone Star State, you can always count on the volume knob getting turned up to 11. Take Jonathan Roberts, for example--the 32-year-old owner of a construction business in Katy, Texas, and the mad man responsible for the gorgeous '02 Camaro SS you see before you. At first look, you can tell this Camaro is something special, with the CCW T-10 wheels, Wilwood six-piston binders, and stealthy gloss black paint. It isn't until you dig a little deeper, however, that you discover the real truth. Think we're overstating our case a bit? First, let's make sure we all understand the deal here. This is a full on street car. You know, complete custom interior, full stereo with navigation, power steering, big six-piston brakes, air conditioning, the whole nine yards. Now, onto the performance: 1,303 rwhp, 1296 lb-ft of torque, 10.3-second quarter-mile runs at 146 mph, and a standing mile top speed of 204 mph as measured at--you guessed it--the Texas Mile.
As you let that sink in, let's delve a little deeper into the build. According to Jonathan, he "wanted to build a car that was different. The goal was to build a Camaro to compete with the big dogs in Houston, like twin-turbo Vipers, Corvettes, Lambos, and Ford GTs. When I built the car, I was very focused on performance, but sure not to jeopardize style or luxury. Nothing was removed from the vehicle, only added." And add he did. To support over a 1,000 hp in every possible condition, Jonathan began with a stout bottom-end combination, which was built by ERL Performance to his specifications. Long gone was the stock '02 LS1 engine that Jonathan started out with back in 2002 when he bought the car brand new, replaced instead with a serious bullet built around an aluminum LS2 block. Down low, it's all about the 4-inch stroke Callies Dragon Slayer crank, which swings a set of K1 connecting rods and custom Wiseco pistons built for plenty of boost and a pump-gas friendly 10.3:1 compression ratio. Rounding out at 427 cubic inches, Jonathan and the crew over at Late Model Engines (LME) chose a set of 245cc Trick Flow six-bolt cylinder heads for the combination, which were promptly worked over by the team to include a set of titanium intake valves, Inconel exhaust valves, and Yella Terra 1.7:1 ratio rocker arms, along with some other "tricks of the trade" that we dare not mention here. The camshaft is also pretty trick, a hydraulic roller unit cut with 251/247 degrees of duration and a 116-degree lobe separation angle. Topped with a FAST 102mm intake manifold and a set of 85 lb/hr injectors, this would be a great engine combination for almost any street car, if only the madness stopped there.
Here come the big guns--the group of crazies known only as Late Model Racecraft. No introduction needed, these are the kings of stacking power adders atop other power adders with the eventual goal of rotating the earth backwards using nothing more than a set of drag radials and twin-turbo LSX power. It should come as no surprise that it was turbo time when Jonathan's new bullet hit the shop floor at LMR, and for this particular build, the crew started off with an APS twin-turbo system, direct from Australia. There really isn't too much custom on the kit, except for an upgraded pair of GT35 billet wheel turbochargers, which were built by Precision Turbo & Engine for LMR. As if two turbochargers spun to 23 psi weren't enough, Jonathan decided to add a slick nitrous system as well, which is plumbed up with a Nitrous Oxide Systems plate and enough jetting for an additional 150 hp. You know, for when 1,000-plus horsepower on boost alone just isn't enough to get the job done.
Horsepower aside, the crew spared no expense with the rest of the drivetrain, as you would imagine. Being that Jonathan loves street driving and slaying exotics on the weekend, the T56 manual transmission was an obvious choice, although it required significant modification to reliably hold up to all of this torque. Using a G-Force gear set (1-6), LMR built a gnarly gearbox with a Viper main shaft, upgraded internals, and an RPS triple disc carbon/carbon clutch. Further on down the line, it's all Moser, with a 12-bolt based rear converting engine power into wheelspin and a set of 3.42 gears keeping the engine RPM in check at high speed. "It drives like a stock car with unbelievable power. With all the suspension modifications, the car will stop and turn on a dime." Remember, this is truly a supercar in Camaro clothing, and as such, nothing was overlooked during the build. This includes the suspension, which was outfitted by LMR using hard parts from BMR Suspension and Hotchkis, with the bouncy parts coming from QA1. At speed, it's important to keep everything hooked up and going straight, but it's also important to slow it back down, which is why LMR chose a set of massive Wilwood six-piston binders up front, matched to a pair of four-piston clamps in the back. Whether Jonathan is running up the speedometer or coming back down it, Nitto NT05 tires control the action, with 315mm NT05R drag radials out back and 275mm street units in the front.
Naturally, you can't build a "supercar killer" without some style, so Jonathan chose to offset the minty fresh factory black paint with a pair of high-polished 18-inch CCW T-10 wheels and a set of silver hockey stripes laid over the black. A VFN hood and Wings West carbon grille round out the exterior scheme, which guarantees looks at almost any event. Inside, the insanity continues, with a two-tone black leather and tan interior, complete with red stitching, setting the theme. A four-point (yeah, 10-ohs and 204 with a four-point...) cage keeps Jonathan "safe" while a set of Simpson harnesses keep him and his passengers firmly planted in the reupholstered factory seats. Two hundred mile an hour gauges, along with the requisite air/fuel, boost control, and pressure gauges keep Jonathan informed, while the touchscreen navigation center keeps him and his passengers amused on long drives. When asked what he loves most about the build, Jonathan simply stated "that it is only a Camaro but it still gets respect from supercars." Respect, as you know, must be earned, and on the mean streets of Houston, it's not something that is particularly easy to come by, so when you've earned it, you've really earned it. And that's all we've got to say about that.
"It drives like a stock car with unbelievable power. With all the suspension modifications, the car will stop and turn on a dime."
|Car: 2002 Chevrolet Camaro SS|
|Owner:|| Jonathan Roberts |
|Block:|| ERL LS2, 427ci |
|Compression ratio:|| 10.3:1|
|Heads:|| Trick Flow 245cc, 2.100 intake valves, 1.600 exhaust valves |
|Cam:|| LME custom hydraulic roller, 251/247 duration at .050, .621/.624-inch lift, 116 LSA|
|Rocker arms:|| Yella Terra, 1.7-ratio |
|Pistons:|| Wiseco, forged |
|Rings:|| Wiseco |
|Crankshaft:|| Callies, forged|
|Rods:|| K1, forged |
|Throttle body:|| FAST 102mm |
|Fuel injectors:|| 85 lb/hr |
|Fuel pump:|| Twin Walbro in-tank, Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump |
|Ignition:|| Stock coil-near-plug, NGK plugs
|Engine management:|| Stock, tuned by Late Model Racecraft |
|Power Adder:|| Twin Precision GT35 billet wheel turbochargers, NOS "wet" 150-hp nitrous|
|Blow Off Valve:|| APS|
|Wastegate:|| Twin Tial 38mm|
|Intercooler:|| APS air-to-air|
|Exhaust system:|| APS cast turbo manifolds, LMR 3-inch exhaust, 3-inch Borla mufflers |
|Transmission:|| T56, built by LMR |
|Clutch:|| RPS triple-disc, carbon/carbon|
|Driveshaft:|| 4-inch, chromoly |
|Front suspension:|| QA1 coilovers, BMR Suspension upper and lower control arms, Hotchkis sway bar|
|Rear suspension:|| QA1 coilovers, BMR Suspension torque arm, lower control arms, Hotchkis subframe connectors and Panhard bar |
|Rear end:|| Moser 12-bolt, 3.42 gear, Moser 33-spline axles, posi|
|Brakes:|| Wilwood 6-piston front, 4-piston rear|
|Wheels:|| CCW T-10 18x9 front, 18x11 rear|
|Front tires:|| Nitto NT05 275/35/18|
|Rear tires:|| Nitto NT05R 315/40/18|
|Fuel:|| VP Racing C16 |
|HP/TQ:|| 1,303/1,296 |
|Mile Top Speed:|| 204 mph|