Aussie tuners go gaga for HSV’s V8 invader
THE 750KW HENNESSEY Exorcist will spearhead a V8 invasion of muscledup Chevrolet Camaros, as the nation’s starved GM fans prepare for the car’s imminent arrival.
As the Ford Mustang – previously free to gallop the local sales plains uncontested – also prepares to face its US foe on Aussie soil, local GM tuners are stocking up on superchargers, exhausts and other go-fast hardware hot from the USA and in some cases, developed locally.
The nation’s leading GM tuners in Harrop, KPM Motorsport, Tunehouse, VCM Performance and Walkinshaw Performance are all preparing offerings for The General’s LT1-powered ponycar, also helping to soothe the angst of Australia not yet being able to get its hands on factory LT4-powered tyrefryers such as the supercharged 6.2-litre 485kW Camaro ZL1 and ZL1 1LE.
But it’s the Exorcist that will sit atop the V8 pecking order, at least initially, its 750kW supercharged LT4 V8 launching the rear-drive coupe down the quarter mile in an eye-watering 9.8 seconds, going on to a top speed of 350km/h – if you dare, that is.
The Exorcist is the Texan tuner’s cheeky answer to the Dodge Demon, Chrysler’s factory supercharged, 626kW HEMI V8 drag strip monster, capable itself of sub-10sec quarter miles.
The Exorcist will be offered by exclusive Hennessey distributor KPM Motorsport, based in South Australia, which also offers its Street Fighter brand of aftermarket enhancements. David Roscio of KPM Motorsport confirmed one lucky Aussie had already put their name down for an Exorcist despite what is likely to be a circa-$240,000 pricetag.
“Because the Exorcist is built on a factory supercharged ZL1 model as its base, it is a separate import process to the HSV Camaros,” said Roscio, explaining that an HSV-converted Camaro SS, with its LT1 powertrain, could not become an Exorcist – you would need to import a ZL1 with the LT4 V8. KPM Motorsport will sell the Exorcist with a 100,000km, three-year warranty, plus ADR approval.
Despite the Exorcist being a ZL1-only proposition, Hennessey will vie with other Australian tuners with upgrade packages for the LT1 engine found in the Camaro SS to be converted by HSV.
On top of its 370kW and 445kW naturally aspirated packs for the LT1 V8, KPM Motorsport will also offer Hennessey’s supercharging options for that engine, ranging from 480 to 750kW, meaning if you want Exorcist levels of power, you needn’t start with a ZL1. Hennessey claims its HPE1000 supercharged LT1 Camaro SS is capable of sub-10 second quarter miles, sub-3.0sec to 100km/h and a top speed beyond 350km/h.
Roscio said as well as Hennessey upgrade packs – considered the more premium modification brand – KPM Motorsport would also offer a Street Fighter range of enhancements for the Camaro. “There will be three stages of naturally aspirated power packages, then two or three stages of supercharged upgrades, all ADR approved,” he said.
Taking on Hennessey and Street Fighter with its own upgrade options, world-class Aussie aftermarket firm Harrop Engineering is developing superchargers for local Camaro owners for whom the SS’s 339kW/617Nm is not enough – but also gear that lets the LT1 breathe freer for those who love their V8s naturally aspirated.
Harrop’s four-lobe FDFI superchargers have offered bolt-on boost for a range of cars throughout the years, and the direct-injected LT1 in the sixth-gen Camaro will be no different. “From our point of view the Camaro is really a continuation of the Gen-F HSV and LS3 Holden platform,” Harrop General Manager Heath Moore told MOTOR. “We have supercharger development running now – in Australia and America – around the LT engines and we are focusing on the FDFI 2650 unit. This is the biggest blower core Eaton makes and is found on the 563kW LT5 engine in the 320km/h ZR1 Corvette.
“We’ll be able to turn the FDFI 2650 at a milder RPM to suit a stock or mildly modified LT1 engine, but the owner will be able to turn that up later if they do more engine work. We’ll also have naturally aspirated performance packages and exhaust packages.”
Moore said Harrop will also offer products beyond engine upgrades.
Pricing, timing, spec, manual ’box
The Chevrolet Camaro 2SS. Only one version will be offered in MY2018 spec with an eightspeed paddle-shift auto (no manual initially). Think 6.2-litre V8 with 339kW/617Nm. There’ll be a limited-slip diff, Brembo brakes, bi-modal exhaust, sunroof, full leather, heated seats, 20-inch rims, rear spoiler and Bose nine-speaker premium audio, all standard.
HSV’S converted Camaro SS is due in showrooms end of September, priced at $85,990 (plus on-roads). Production at HSV’s new factory at Clayton in Melbourne’s south-east began early September – just “a little late”, HSV managing director Tim Jackson told MOTOR. The slight delay was because “it just takes time to do it properly”.
The Camaro will be sold nationally through 60 Holden dealers in re-branded Chevrolet areas – along with the similarly converted Silverado pick-up trucks. That’s more than the previous HSV network due to the addition of rural dealerships.
The first model year will be limited to just 550 units. This will be augmented by further shipments already on the water from the USA. HSV is looking at selling around 1000 a year, although production capacity will rise to more than 2000 if demand warrants. Annual sales will never approach the Mustang’s 9000-plus, a car imported as a factory made right-hand drive, avoiding the extra cost of local right-hand drive conversion.
Yes (pictured, opposite). Righthand drive conversions of the latest 10-speed auto model – and possibly a manual option – won’t be available until “well into 2019”, according to HSV.
ZL1 is to Camaro SS what HSV GTS was to Commodore SS – the supercharged big daddy. The ZL1 has a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 packing 485kW and 868Nm. The 1LE pack optimises the ZL1 for track duty complete with monster brakes and wild aero. “We’ll look at them in the future,” Jackson teased. They’d cost well beyond $100,000.
HSV’s conversion program has been endorsed by global GM product chief Mark Reuss, the former Holden boss who visited Australia recently. Reuss was shown the RHD Camaro and Silverado at a look-and-drive event at the Lang Lang proving ground, reportedly declaring he was happy with the result and supportive of HSV’s Chevrolet niche. While the next-gen midengined C8 Corvette is destined to be made in right-hand drive and imported by Holden in 2021, right-hand drive production of the new Camaro due around the same time has not been confirmed. In fact, despite the success of the RHD Mustang, GM insiders report that a business case for a factory RHD Camaros cannot be made.
The Walkinshaw Andretti United (WAU) team – closely aligned with Walkinshaw family owned HSV – is doing an engineering study to determine viability of a Camaro Supercar. Although the latest Gen2 rules allow two-door coupe body shapes, adapting them to fit the control Supercars chassis is difficult. Most problematic is the low roofline, which Ford has overcome by raising, stretching and widening the Mustang shape (a Mustangbodied Supercars racer will replace the Falcon next year).
A similar solution has been found for the even lower-line Camaro and WAU is keen to switch from the ZB Commodore in 2020. It is looking at a technical alliance with Kelly Racing – about to lose its Nissan factory backing – and giantkilling independent Erebus Motorsport to justify the change.
Formerly the factory-backed Holden Racing Team, WAU has to tread carefully because of HSV’s links to Holden. Although Holden’s new management is supportive of racing again and has gone on record as not opposing the Camaro joining as a Commodore rival, the internal politics of such a change are a minefield. –
“We will likely look into an Ultimatelevel brake kit and we’ll also likely have a TruTrac limited-slip option for the differential,” he said. “Our partners at Forgeline Wheels have huge experience working in this field, and we have styling providers we work with who can potentially offer aesthetic upgrades.”
Back at Clayton in Melbourne’s south-east, for those keen to keep their modified Camaro in the Walkinshaw family, the best prospect for appearance and performance upgrades is HSV’s aftermarket partner Walkinshaw Performance. Although there is no official comment because of the delicate Intellectual Property arrangement with GM and Holden, it is understood WP will offer performance and appearance enhancements shortly after launch.
In the US, Chevrolet competes in the aftermarket with its own licensed Performance range of Camaro SS upgrade gear. Chevrolet even markets a Drag Race Development Program selling parts that boost the LT1 SS’s quarter mile potential to a claimed 10.5sec at 205km/h, with validation requiring more than 400 passes at 600-plus horsepower. Parts include cold air intakes to headers, highstall torque converters, heavy duty halfshafts; to Brembo brake kits, several full suspension upgrade packages and factory spec louder exhaust systems. We can only pray this is the gear on Walkinshaw’s radar for Australia.
Elsewhere in Melbourne, VCM Performance will compete for Camaro business with its HP Tuner software upgrades and Magnuson superchargers.
“We have a supercharger kit in stock and ready to go,” said VCM’s Mario Pancione. “It is a Magnuson 2300-sized four-lobe kit set-up to bolt onto the LT1, and should be on the market for around the same price as the Heartbeat kits we sell for Commodores. We are actually waiting on our own Camaro to be delivered so we can build a demo car.”
Suiting those perhaps stepping out of a Clubsport R8 LSA, the Magnuson 2300 will supercharge the LT1 Camaro SS to beyond 400kW with 6psi of boost.
Pancione said as Australian distributor of software tuning brand HP Tuners, VCM is busy working on related upgrades for the HSV-converted Camaro. As with any tuner, VCM must ‘crack the code’ of not only the the direct injection fuel system, but the eight-speed auto transmissions.
VCM had been spied fiddling with a ZB Commodore for reasons previously mysterious, but now clearer: “The transmission control unit (TCU) in both the new ZB Commodore and the Camaro needs to be unlocked,” explained Pancione. “The ZB Commodore uses the exact same TCU as the Camaro right down to the part number, so we have unlocked that in preparation for tuning Camaros.”
VCM is well known in the LS tuning world for developing new cam grinds that unlock huge power in the Chevy small-block engines, including reversepattern cams that suit forced-induction combos. However, with only a limited number of Camaros coming, cam junkies should not expect to see a huge range of cams to suit Gen V engines pop up overnight. “We will look at developing cam grinds in time,” said Pancione. “We will see what the market response to the Camaro is first.”
Sydneysiders needn’t fret for a lack of local tuning providers with Tunehouse in Marrickville jumping into the fight. “People are talking about these cars and we will work with various companies to develop packages under the THR brand,” said head honcho Jim Ghelis.
“This means suspension and brake upgrades, and leaving engine upgrades to bolt-on parts to avoid opening them up. We have a lot of options for R&D cars and we will get in and get them done, but we are going to run our own journey, like we always do, and develop our own packages.”
Queensland’s GM horsepower addicts Hi-Torque Performance couldn’t comment on its Camaro plans.
While power upgrades such as superchargers and software tuning are obviously high on the agenda for Camaro owners and tuners alike, expect to see a tsunami of aftermarket wheel options in Camaro-friendly fitments from ubiquitous brands such as ROH. Suspension lowering options and upgrades are expected from brands such as Eibach and, more locally, Whiteline. For those who just want a little more herbs and perhaps sound without overdoing it, K&N Air Filters will offer an OE-quality cold-air intake.
What’s plain to see is if you have an HSV Clubsport R8 LSA, or GTS, and the lease is almost up, it will be far from difficult to replace it with a right-hook Camaro converted to OE standards by HSV, with a lazy supercharger bumping power to safe or psychotic levels – or even a snarling, enhanced naturally aspirated V8 sweetheart. Enough to scare the horses, whichever route you take.
THE SIXTH-generation Camaro sees the new Gen V LT small-block V8 slotted between the rails, boasting significant technical upgrades like direct injection and variable-rate oil pumps over the old LS-series engines we’ve had in Holdens since 1999.
The engine’s basic architecture carries over from the Gen IV LS3 with aluminium block and cylinder heads, 90-degree vee, 103.25mm bore and 92mm stroke, and a displacement of 6.2 litres. However, there are less than a handful of parts which interchange between the LS motors and the new LT1 and LT4 used in the sixth-generation Camaro
While the LT1 runs a 11.5:1 compression ratio for snappy performance on various grades of fuel, the 485kW LT4 drops to 10:1 to deal with increased cylinder pressures from the new 1.7-litre Eaton four-lobe supercharger (made more compact to improve bonnet clearance). The LT4 also uses forged internals and an upgraded valvetrain to handle the huge 650hp, including a dry sump oil system and variable-rate oil pump
There is also the 563kW LT5 V8 on duty in the new ZR1 Corvette, boasting a massive 2.65-litre supercharger. However, this is unlikely to appear in Camaro in the next 12 months.
AVENTADOR SVJ a Monterey Car Week highlight
LAMBORGHINI’S quickest-ever car has broken cover. The Aventador SVJ (more info opposite) was revealed at the Monterey Car Week in California, USA, last month. One of the world’s preeminent classic car events, Monterey Car Week is increasingly being treated as a quasi-motor show by many high- end manufacturers. It’s not difficult to understand why – events such as The Quail, Pebble Beach Concours and Monterey Motorsports Reunion attract the richest and most influential petrolheads from around the globe. BMW pulled the covers off its production Z4, Ferrari, Honda, Bugatti, Ford and SSC
also revealed new or updated supercars, Porsche unveiled a one-off as-new 993 911 Turbo S while Audi and MercedesBenz wowed with show-stopping electric concepts. Then there was the more than half-a-billion dollars generated by the many car auctions, including a world record AUD$66m for a Ferrari 250 GTO.
LAUNCH DATE: Q2 2019
PRODUCTION NO: 900
IF ANY car didn’t need added drama it’s the Lamborghini Aventador. SantA’gata disagrees, unveiling the Superveloce Jota, a powered-up, 566kW/720Nm howling atmo V12 missile capable of lapping the Nurburgring in 6min44.97sec, a new production car record. In the acceleration stakes, 0-100km/h is a claimed 2.8 seconds, launch control and all-wheel drive to thank, as well as a relatively lithe 1525kg dry weight. As for 0-200km/h – increasingly the real measure of supercar speed – Lambo claims an eye-watering 8.6 seconds, with a top speed of more than 350km/h. Unusually, Lambo also claims 100-0km/h in 30 metres which, if true, would make it about the shortest stopping car on sale. The SVJ receives a lot of improved equipment over the Aventador SV, including 40 per cent more downforce on both axles and a drag coefficient 1 per cent lower, thanks to an updated version of ALA active aero. Despite high tech allwheel steering, the old-school, brutal ISR transmission remains, as does the pushrod suspension. Just 900 will be built at more than AUD$1m on-road each.
LAUNCH DATE: NOW
PRICE: €5M (AUD$8M)
PRODUCTION NO: 40
IT’S ONE of the world’s fastest and most expensive cars, but the Bugatti Chiron isn’t typically at home on a racetrack. Enter the Divo, an optimised Chiron that sheds 35kg, adds 90kg of downforce – which limits the top speed to ‘only’ 380km/h – and is claimed to be eight seconds quicker than its donor car around Nardo’s handling track. The 40-unit build run sold out immediately, despite the incredible price tag.
LAUNCH DATE: Q2 2019
PRODUCTION NO: N/A
AS NIGHT follows day, so a Ferrari Spider follows the Coupe. The Pista Spider is a drop-top version of the hardcore 488 and shares its 530kW/770Nm uprated V8 and 90kg weight loss. Unusually, no specific build run has been announced, but production slots are limited and all accounted for.
LAUNCH DATE: Q1 2019
PRODUCTION NO: N/A
MCLAREN claims more than 90 per cent of a 720S is changed in the transition from road to racecar, including the power output. To ensure parity, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is restricted from 530kW to around 370kW, but massive slicks and wings more than make up the difference.
LAUNCH DATE: N/A
PRODUCTION NO: N/A
THIS 570kW shooting brake is Audi’s idea of a future performance car. The PB18 e-tron uses suspension inspired by its R18 Le Mans car and, crucially, has no autonomous driving capability whatsoever. Nice.
LAUNCH DATE: NOW
PRODUCTION NO: NO LIMIT
WHY wouldn’t you want a Ford GT in this livery? The latest Heritage Edition GT features the famous Gulf colours, along with unique wheels and carbon accents featuring either the number 9 (2019 build) or 6 (2020)
LAUNCH DATE: N/A
PRODUCTION NO: N/A
MERCEDES has paid tribute to its recordsetting W125 with the stunning Vision EQ Silver Arrow concept, an immense 5.3m-long electric single seater producing 550kW and the ability to ‘virtual race’ from the cockpit.