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1999 Chevy Camaro - Study Haul, Part 1

Lincoln Tech Builds A Budget 12-Second '99 Camaro

By J.T. Metz, Photography by Paul Glock

Next, the students were called upon to improve the Z's breathing. First, they replaced the stock air filter with a Rush low-restriction element and added a larger Quarter-Mile Performance airbox lid. The stock airbox on a fourth-generation F-Body has very small slots at its front to access incoming air. SLP makes a diffuser that taps into the high-pressure area in front of the radiator. This is very slick and it looks factory. To complement this intake improvement, the students also installed a set of Hooker long-tube leaders and corresponding Y-pipe. This matched well with the Flowmaster American Thunder 3-inch exhaust and tailpipes that completed the system. The students also bolted in Caspers Electronics O2 simulators to keep the ECM's warning light off. Finally, the students topped the engine with a set of MSD ignition wires.

Back at Capitol's dragstrip, the weather continued to be below average. A low-pressure system had parked over the mid-Atlantic Coast, but the LS1 didn't seem to care. It responded with several sub-13.20 runs with a best 13.15 at 107.31 mph, which benefited from high-1.90 60-foot times. They achieved the best times with the trans left in Drive, shifting at 6,000 rpm. With the stock 3.23 gears, the Z was crossing the finish line at well under 5,000 rpm.

It was clear a gear change was necessary to give the Camaro a bit more leverage on the starting line and to take advantage of the LS1's top-end power. The students responded with a set of Richmond 4.10 gears, an Auburn Pro series limited-slip, and 3 quarts of Royal Purple gear lube. In the interest of safety and durability, they also installed a set of Moser C-clip axles.

On the Z's first run with the deeper gears, the Camaro pulled off 12.85 at 110.21 mph, and now the Nittos were audibly breaking loose on the First-to-Second shift. The 60-foot times did not drastically improve with a 1.94. This led them to believe the Nittos needed less air and more heat from a longer burnout. But despite these limitations, the Camaro picked up more than a half-second and 5 mph with minimal changes. For a stock automatic trans and converter car, those are impressive numbers.

With very little fanfare, the students at managed to put this 100,000-mile pump-gas Camaro well into the 12s with no cam change, headwork, or major engine work. In fact, the LS1 still has its original spark plugs. Given the Camaro's 110-mph trap speed, there's enough power to make low 12s a distinct possibility.

Next month, plans for their second semester include replacing the intake manifold, valvetrain, and torque converter with pieces from SLP, BBK, Comp Cams, and TCI. Combine these changes with some ECM reprogramming and a little Mustang 250 chassis-dyno time, and you can see this curriculum is going to get very serious.

Dragstrip Times
Modifications (Baro, Temp, Humidity) e.t./mph/60-ft
Baseline 30.65, 55F, 65% 13.41/105.21/2.19
Tires, shocks, bars 29.85, 75F, 80% 13.53/104.20/2.00
Intake, exhaust, wires 29.75, 80F, 85% 13.15/107.31/1.97
4.10 gear, posi, axles N/A 12.85/110.21/1.94
By J.T. Metz
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