Throwing Gears in a 505-hp Z06-Powered Chevy Camaro GM says this Camaro has turned a 12.0 at 120 mph at the drag strip and the 2009 Camaro should do almost as well despite weighing about 500 pounds more than this car. By Joe Oldham, Contributor Date posted: 06-04-2007 This 1999 Chevrolet Z28 Camaro is no ordinary used car. It's a freaking street monster; a snarling, mean mother of a street racer that will chew you up and spit you out if you have the temerity to challenge it at a stoplight. It's powered by a GM Performance Parts (GMPP) LS7 crate motor packing 505 (or more) horsepower, the same engine you'll find under the hood of a Z06 Corvette. In fact, GM Performance Parts built this car because it wants the world to know that the all-aluminum small-block V8 is for sale at any GM dealer's parts counter (or even online). The other reason the motorheads at GMPP built this beast is because the coming '09 Camaro will probably have an SS edition available, which will be powered by this same engine right off the showroom floor. The Doctor Is in the House This flat-black Camaro is powered by the same engine you'll find under the hood of a Z06 Corvette. Dr. Jamie Meyer, the father of this flat-black brute, is the product integration manager at GM Performance Parts. We have no idea what a product integration manager is, except that Meyer is a reincarnated hot-rodder/muscle car street rat from the '60s who was reborn into today's corporate world, and gets to dream up and build all these really hot muscle machine packages out of GM Performance Parts. Is that a great job or what? You can tell Meyer is thoroughly enjoying himself. The LS7 is part number 17802397 and will literally drop into the engine compartment of any 1982-2004 Camaro — or for that matter, any small-block-powered Camaro back to 1967. You can even use the same motor mounts. Now this Camaro demonstrator packs mind-blowing power that dates back to the big-block 427 and 454 engines of Chevy's glorious past. It screams to a 7,200 rpm redline (patrolled by a rev limiter) and peels back your eyelids every time you nudge the throttle. Because this car was going to be a test mule both for the GMPP engineers and a bunch of crazed auto journalists, Meyer decided to beef up the already impressive engine. LS7 Plus With more than 500 hp, this Camaro packs mind-blowing power that dates back to the big-block 427 and 454 engines of Chevy's glorious past. The GMPP engineers were able to keep the stock LS7 oil pan, but that meant they would have to accommodate for the LS7's dry-sump oiling system. The battery was placed in the trunk, and 2 inches were sectioned out of the stock oil tank. The new oil tank now resides in the position of the vacated battery. A BMR cradle, or K-member, was used to physically hold the LS7 in position with standard LS engine mounts. In front the LS7 is dressed with a Z06 Corvette air-conditioning compressor and an ATI damper/balancer for clearance, and to adapt an F-body accessory drive. The stock 58x reluctor wheel remains. The Camaro's original stock LS1 350 air intake (with SS hood scoop) was retained with slight modifications to adapt it to the LS7 throttle body. The engineers used a custom GM Performance Parts wiring harness and their own custom calibrations for the prototype GMPP MEFI-4b controller. Since GM crate motors arrive without an exhaust system, GMPP installed a set of Kook's long-tube headers. A 3-inch dual-exhaust system with low-restriction Magnaflow mufflers runs from the headers all the way back. Since the LS1 and LS7 weigh almost the same, major front-end suspension changes did not have to be performed. GMPP engineers added Koni struts and shocks, but that was just to replace the older units and improve handling. Much of the conversion work was performed by Thomson Automotive in Redford, Michigan. Because this '99 Camaro was going to be flogged unmercifully at both drag strips and press events, the rest of the drivetrain had to be capable of handling the increase in power. A T-56 Tremec transmission with a Hurst shifter setup takes the power to a new Strange S-60 rear end, which is really the old Dana 60 unit, Strange having purchased the tooling from Dana. Various rear axle ratios have been tested all the way up to 4.56s. When we drove the car in the desert northeast of Los Angeles it was packing a 4.10 final drive. Behind the Wheel A few blasts around the deserted roads of Rosamond, California, quickly highlighted the fact that the 4.10 gears keep the revs up and any throttle tip-in at all gives you immediate and high-G throttle response. We climbed into the driver seat with Meyer riding shotgun. A few blasts around the deserted roads of Rosamond, California, quickly highlighted the fact that the 4.10 gears keep the revs up and any throttle tip-in at all gives you immediate and high-G throttle response. Floor it in any of the first four gears and you are instantaneously pinned into the seatback cushion. And there's no letup until your right foot lets up. At one point, we stopped the car on a particularly deserted stretch of road. "Is it OK if we punch it hard off the line?" we asked Meyer. "I couldn't care less what you do. Do whatever you want. If it breaks, we'll build another one," was Meyer's answer. OK. With the go-ahead from the boss, we revved it to 4,000 rpm, then dropped the clutch hard. First gear was a spinning, smoking, fishtailing blast of sheer torque, which rendered the rear tires helpless and our eyelids pinned back into our skull. The tires continued to screech and spin as long as we held our foot to the floor. We estimate the 1st-gear burnout at 50 feet. Finally managing to peel ourselves off the seatback, and with the revs bouncing off the limiter, we ripped back into 2nd gear. Our reward was 20 more feet of rubber and a hurtling rush ahead. At 6,000 rpm, we mashed 3rd and again got massive rubber as we ripped huge gaping holes in the atmosphere. Even 4th gear rendered a chirp from the rear tires. By now, we were running out of room. The speedo was well over 100 and we could see a stop sign ahead. We quickly braked down hard to a stop. "Holy crap!" we exclaimed. "What the freak was that? This should be a production car." More To Come "Stick around for the '09 Camaro launch," was Meyer's response, both of us grinning and trying to catch our breath. He said he'd already turned a 12.0 at 120 mph at the drag strip with this thing and that the new Camaro should do almost as well, despite weighing about 500 pounds more than this car. Meanwhile, if you can't wait until '09 to go fast and you own any Camaro at all, our recent thrill of a driving experience is waiting for you, right now, in a crate, at any Chevy dealer parts counter. Or even online.