The plan to build this Camaro started with a '70 Chevelle and a 502 big-block. John Lockman had all the ingredients to build the iconic blown, big-block muscle car he had always envisioned. Then he saw the new Camaro. Something about its look really struck a chord, and he began to question his intensions of building the Chevelle. “I liked the new car's old-school look,” John says. About that time, he began to notice just how many big-block Chevelles there were at the car shows he likes to go to, and his doubts compounded.
Ultimately, he decided to scuttle the plans to build his Chevelle and sold it. He purchased a V6-powered '13 Camaro and began working on it within a week of taking delivery. The new plan was to stick his 502 in the Camaro, complete with the Weiand 8-71 Supercharger and dual quads. Over the next two years, he accomplished his goal, integrating the Pro Street–era powertrain with the modern chassis. He was proud to point out electronic bits, such as ABS, HVAC, and sat/nav, all function as normal. Credit for that goes to Chevrolet; the Camaro's engine and transmission are controlled by one computer, separate from the controllers for the lights, gauges, radio, and ventilation system. Could engineers at Chevrolet have designed this on purpose, hoping some crazy guy in Michigan would drop a blown 502 in? We doubt it, but the thought is entertaining.
John's trade is tool- and die-making, so making parts isn't too difficult for him. He made everything needed to fit the engine into the Camaro's chassis, including the motor mounts, the pulleys, and he even made the headers. Still, the process took him a couple of years to complete. He described lots of trial fitting and disassembly of parts until he got everything looking the way he wanted.
Now, John is loving life behind the wheel of his car. His goal was to build a car that combined the quintessential muscle car drivetrain in a fresh-looking package. It stopped us in our tracks while on the prowl at last year's Street Machine Nationals in Du Quoin, Illinois, so it's safe to say he got it right.
As long as I keep the tires spinning, I don't have to worry about breaking it.
Who: John Lockman
What: '13 Chevrolet Camaro
Where: Wyoming, Michigan, the 16th largest community in the state.
Engine: The 502 was assembled with a combination of new and used parts. John purchased the block from a friend, and Casey Machining in Hudsonville, Michigan, bored it 0.030-inch over and assembled it with a forged GM crank, Eagle H-beam rods, SRP pistons, and Total Seal gapless rings. The cam is from Lunati. With specs of 242/252 degrees duration and 0.595/0.612 lift, it's ideal for a supercharged application. The Dart Pro 1 cylinder heads were ported and built with Engine Pro stainless valves, Comp roller rocker arms, and Cometic MLS gaskets. As mentioned, John made the pulleys and motor mounts. He chose to begin with a V6 car because they have traditional hydraulic power steering, driven by a pump bolted to the engine (V8 cars have electric assist). This enabled him to simply bolt a pump to the engine and run the lines to the steering rack.
Induction and Fuel: Looking at the engine compartment, it's pretty obvious a standard-deck big-block is quite a bit taller than the LS3 the Camaro was designed around. Now throw on an 8-71 supercharger and a pair of carburetors, and you have an engine that's nearly as tall as the car—not that there's anything wrong with this, of course. The blower is from Weiand, and John bought a pair of Holley 780-cfm carbs, modified by Patrick James at ProSystems. The carbs are fed by an Aeromotive A1000 pump in the 20-gallon fuel cell mounted in the trunk, rather than under the car. “I wanted to keep the car as stock-looking as possible, other than the engine, of course,” John says. He made the fuel distribution reservoir mounted near the fuel pressure regulator, which sends fuel either to the carburetors or back to the tank via the return line.
Exhaust: John made the headers with 21⁄8-inch primary tubes, dumping into a 4-inch exhaust system with Flowmaster Super 44 mufflers.
Transmission: Keeping with the old-school theme, John bolted a TH400 transmission to the back of his 502. He modified the stock shifter handle and linkage to work in harmony. The trans was built by LB Performance in Cedar Rapids, Michigan, with a TCI valvebody and a B&M 3,000-stall Hole Shot torque converter.
Suspension: It's all stock! Even the independent rear suspension, which has held up to the tidal wave of torque this engine is capable of providing.
Wheels/Tires/Brakes: They're all stock, too. The car's still wearing the Pirelli 245/50-19 tires, front and rear, that John purchased it with.
Interior: It's mostly stock in here, too, with the exception of the switch panel John built and installed just in front of the shifter. Everything works, except for the speedometer and tachometer, which need information from the stock powertrain computer to function.
Thanks: John wishes to thank Cody Lockman and Greg Wyetit for helping with the build.