GM's noticeable absence in the 21st Century's fuel-injected arms race leaves many of its faithful followers sitting ducks. Sure, our own horsepower king, the 405-horse Z06 Vette, is no slouch: 12-flat quarter-mile times from the factory 10 years ago would have been met with incredulity. But these days, that high-wound hardtop emerges from the production line to box-stock Vipers running mid-11s, supercharged Mustangs putting 375 horses to the wheels, and big-boost Supras pulling on Diablos from a roll. And we're not even talking about the tuner cars yet. While the world-class Gen. III motor is being nestled between the fenders of a pickup truck, tuners of all allegiances--Ford, Mopar, and import--are screwing together high-horse packages designed to pound your now-used GM into the asphalt.
Well, GM fanatics don't have many flashy high-dollar tuning shops, but rest assured: those select few Gen. III owners who want--who need--much more than 12s on radials, they know where to go.
In October of 1998, Mont Belvieu, Texas resident Dennis Jason was looking for a project car that was subtle with a bang, and a lot of research was done regarding the best performance car for the buck. Jason had followed the stellar LS1 ever since it came out in the '97 Vette, and "I knew that a Super Sport was going to be just the ticket," he says. So an order for a black 1999 hardtop SS with the 6-speed was put in. "It arrived in December, I picked it up...and I've been tinkering with it ever since."
Mercifully, Dennis allowed the SS to rack up 3,400 miles before he began modifying it. Since Houston Raceway Park is only about five minutes from his doorstep, Jason decided to make a few passes with the stock F1 tires. The slick-shifting Texan laid down an impressive 12.88 at 109--that's stock as a rock, folks. After low-buck mods like a lid and a muffler, he hit the dyno and saw 326 horses and 336 lb.-ft. at the wheels. Great numbers, but he wasn't about to stop there.
"I was ready to make big power, and I started talking to people to see who was doing serious R&D on these motors," 38-year-old Dennis explains. "And Jayson Cohen's name kept coming up."
Jayson, the proprietor of Houston-based MTI, is well known as a high-quality builder of all things LS1, so after a few conversations with the folks at MTI, Dennis decided to take one of its Stage 2 heads and cam packages in 2000. With the Hammer C1 cam (.566 lift, 222 degrees duration) doing the bump and the ported heads flowing like mad, the SS's beefed-up LS1 put 404 ponies and 398 lb.-ft. to the ground. That round of mods kept him happy for a year--but the exotic-wheeling weenies with Texas-sized egos drove him back to MTI in the summer of 2001.
"There are lots of exotics and high-powered street cars running around here," he reveals. "My SS was really fast, but I wanted to smack around 600-horse Vipers. So..."
So, Jason approached MTI's Jayson about doing the 422-inch Stage 3 package. Dennis was thrilled at the idea of more power, but initially he was a bit concerned about a 422's street manners. Cohen was happy to inform Jason that the SS would not only keep its excellent driveability, but would also put out at least an extra 80 ponies over the Stage 2 configuration. Dennis was sold, and the SS went under the knife again.
With the Gen. III mill removed, Pecos Loughlin at MTI started the machine work to get the bore to 4.1 inches and fit the 4-inch Lunati crank. Once the crank was installed, a set of Lunati rods swinging Wiseco pistons was bolted in.
The R1 cam, which specced out at .575/.578 lift, 232/236 duration at .050 and a 114 LSA, was chosen for this big-cube mill. Mike Pabon installed the cam while Robert Maenza prepared a set of Stage 3 heads. Obtained from a 5.3-liter GM truck, the heads had a slightly smaller combustion chamber that meant a compression ratio around 11.3 to 1. And they flowed, too: 320 cfm at .600 on the intake side, 225 cfm at .600 on the exhaust. Ferrea 2.08-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves were matched with dual spring valve springs, and titanium retainers and keepers held everything together. Stock GM rocker arms were stuck back on top, 30-pound injectors provided the 101 octane, and an unported LS6 manifold was the crowning touch.
In September of 2001, Dennis drove the 50 miles to MTI to pick up his car. When he got there the staff was getting ready to crank it up, and nothing could have prepared him for the sound of a 422 blowing through the open, 3-bolt-flange Mac headers. "I definitely didn't expect to hear that kind of sound coming out of a brand-new Camaro!" A shakedown trip around the block was made, and then the SS was strapped to the dyno. 505 horses showed up at 5800 rpm, with 497 pound-feet present around 4800 rpm. Back at the track with some Nittos, Dennis pulled a "terrible" 60-foot en route to 11.40s at 125 miles an hour on motor. But this was a street stalker through and through--during a thorough spanking of a twin-turbo Porsche, the stock 10-bolt grenaded. A Moser 12-bolt with 3.73 gears promptly replaced it, as did a Denny's Nitrous Ready driveshaft.
The clutch's days were numbered as well, so once a McLeod clutch and some ET Streets were ready for action, Dennis got serious--TNT 200 shot, baby. Anybody see a cage i n this thing? The tech guys down at Baytown didn't. "Yeah, there was no way I could race at HRP," Dennis admits. "It's a street car, and I never got around to getting a cage in it. So I had to go someplace else."
That someplace happened to be San Antonio. With a weak 1.78 60-foot, he ran a blistering 10.5 at 136 with the TNT kit only set on 150. Later, a dyno session with the 200-horse jets made for a whopping 701 horsepower and 798 lb.-ft. of torque--street racers beware. The stock T56 didn't care much for the 200-shot, but Dennis didn't mind--he was too busy dominating those illicit meetings held in the wee hours of a Texas weekend.
"These Hennessey Vipers are all around Houston, and a 650R with a 200-shot would come out on the weekends and try to intimidate people. We would commence to meet at some back road late at night--some other Hennesseys would show up, exotics would show up, big-turbo Supras would show up. That 650R and myself left from a 30-mph roll, and halfway through 4th I had two car lengths on him. This happened several times. Later on I heard that the guy built a 900-horse Pro Stock motor for it--I guess he finally got tired of gettin' beat by the little black GM. But this thing still cleans up, and everybody still calls me up when they want to see a Viper get outrun."
Doesn't look much different...
Doesn't look much different than the thousands of 300-horsepower F-bodies on the streets every day, does it? The Vipers don't think so, but double the power plus 100 changes minds in a hurry.
700 horses never looked so...
700 horses never looked so innocent. The MTI-built 422 has whupped its fair share of tuner cars, and Dennis isn't through yet: the next step involves removing the nitrous and building a twin-turbo 422!
Several suspension components...
Several suspension components are responsible for the right-on stance of Dennis Jason's SS. Kenny Brown supplied the springs and rear control arms, BMR handled the front control arms, and Random Technology came through with the panhard and torque arm. The Wings West front grill adds a classy finish to this understatement.
We imagine that most of the...
We imagine that most of the SS's business is handled in the dark, but even if the challengers could see it, the Corbeau-enhanced interior wouldn't give anything away.
Dennis chose a set of classy...
Dennis chose a set of classy Bogart rims for his '99 Camaro. The fronts measure 17 by 6 and wear 205mm Kumhos; the rears are shorter at 16 by 10 but wear enormous 315mm Nittos for street stalking. 13-inch Baer front rotors pull the SS down from speed in a hurry, while a pair of stock-diameter, cross-drilled units help out back.
|Car:||1999 Camaro SS|
|Owner:||Dennis Jason, Jr., 38|
|Block:||Re-sleeved LS1, 422 cubic inches|
|Heads:||Ported 5.3-liter truck head,|
2.08/1.60-inch Ferrea valves
|Cam:||MTI R1, .575/.578 lift, 232o/236o duration at|
.050, 114 LSA
|Rocker arms:||Stock 1.7 ratio|
|Throttle body:||Ported stock|
|Fuel injectors:||SVO, 30 lb./hr.|
|Fuel pump:||Inline T-Rex|
|Engine management:||Stock, tuned with LS1Edit|
|Power adder:||200-horse TNT nitrous kit|
|Exhaust system:||1.75-inch Mac headers, 3-inch MTI Y-pipe,|
3.5-inch Mufflex exhaust, Spin Tech muffler
|Driveshaft:||Denny's Nitrous Ready|
|Front suspension:||BMR control arms, Kenny Brown springs,|
Hotchkis strut tower brace
|Rear suspension:||Kenny Brown control arms and progressive|
springs, Random Technology panhard barM
and torque arm
|Rear end:||Moser 12-bolt, Strange 33-spline axles, 3.73 gears |
|Wheels:||Bogart, 17x6 front, 16x10 rear|
|Front tires:||Kumho, 205/50|
|Rear tires:||Nitto 315/35 street, Hoosier 28x10 track|
|Best ET/mph:||10.5 at 136 (150 shot)|
|Best 60-ft. time:||1.49|
|Miles driven weekly:||200|