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Camaro LS3 Build

May 24, 2018

Let me introduce you to Will’s 1969 Camaro. Will brought us this car that he bought as a completed project, and he wanted to address some shortcomings in the build that had surfaced as he put miles on the car.  In addition to addressing the shortcomings he wanted to add some modern amenities to make it his own version of the perfect classic cruiser muscle car.  It turns out about 16 years ago he owned a similar car and acquired a T56 transmission in hopes of converting it to a 6 speed from a 4 speed. Time and life responsibilities prevented that project from coming to fruition, but this time around he had the plan and the wherewithal to make his vision of the car come true. We were glad to be part of the process!  

 

The car came to us with a plan to add Air Conditioning, a modern 6 speed manual transmission, and address a leak from the rear axle. Shortly after arriving at the shop we discovered a pretty ominous sound coming from the 396 based stroker big block. Further inspection pointed to rod bearings that were done as well as weeping head gaskets and probably rings too. We also found a transmission tunnel that was hacked up to make the Muncie 4 speed fit,  worn suspension, a cracked axle housing, and less than optimal workmanship in mounting lines and components to the underside of the car.  With all that, a larger plan was hatched! 

 

The new plan called for removing the front clip including the engine and transmission, rear axle, and interior. Basically taking it down to the shell but glass and wiring remained. It was time to rebuild it just right to suit Will’s style.  Let’s break it down for you: 

 

 

Body: For the body we would be cutting out the poor tunnel patch job and welding in a new replacement transmission tunnel. For the interior we prepped and sprayed Lizard Skin Sound Barrier to make the car more pleasant to drive.  We went through all the fasteners used and replaced them with proper fittings, Energy Suspension body mounts, and addressed numerous “old car” wiring issues with lights, senders, etc so that everything worked including clutch lockout, reverse lights, fuel level, wipers etc. Those things don’t stay working on a near 50 year old car. BMR Subframe connectors were added to stiffen the body and tie together the suspension.

 

Front suspension: We fully disassembled the front suspension, sandblasted and powder coated every piece to better than factory. Every nut/bolt/fastener/adjuster/balljoint/bushing/coupler/insulator in the front suspension was replaced with OEM equivalent or Energy Suspension replacements.  Bilstein shocks were installed as well. The only piece not replaced basically was the actual steering box.

 

Rear suspension: The rear axle had a 3” long crack at the leaf spring mount area at the axle tube. We also spotted mismatched wheel studs, as well as some other details that point to a previous drag strip outing in the cars past life  that went poorly. A brand new Moser 12 bolt was ordered up, blasted and powder coated, and then the 3.73 Posi and 33 spline Moser axles were moved over to the new housing. New bushings and bolts and the axle was ready to go back in.  Bilstein shocks were added, and the driveshaft is a new aluminum unit cut to fit to mate with the TR6060 and…

 

Engine: Since the big block stroker was dead, it was time to pick up a meaner sound, and a lot more power, while at the same time losing a lot of weight off the nose of the car, insert LS3 Crate Engine right there! We couldn’t do the standard 480HP LS3, we went with the 540HP version that includes the ASA Cam (.525 lift Intake/Exhaust, 226/236 Duration Intake/Exhaust, 110LSA) along with the carbureted intake and 660 Holley; this engine was good to 7000rpm. The engine is rated at 540hp and with the future full exhaust, it will make every bit of that. Today it runs through factory LS3 manifolds mated to the 2.5” exhaust. Spark ix handled by an MSD LS Ignition Controller, all the heater hoses, AC hoses, and the MSD Ignition controller were modified to run through the fender and hidden from view.  The engine harness was extensively cleaned up, wrapped, heat sleeved and generally making it bullet proof for years to come. Do it right, do it once was the name of the game. Where a bracket or mount was needed and was substandard, custom brackets were made and proper nutsert fasteners were installed everywhere possible. Hoses were upgraded to silicone everywhere possible

Cooling System: a new Ron Davis max effort aluminum radiator was installed, along with a custom shrouded dueal SPAL fans, all properly controlled for both low speed, high speed and AC override. 

 

Transmission: A brand new viper spec TR-6060 was installed, along with an SFI Billet steel 168 tooth flywheel, Lakewood Quicktime SFI Bellhousing, Hydraulic clutch master and slave, and a proper but streetable clutch were installed that fully modernizes the experience of driving the car.

 

Fuel System: Starting at the tank a new 1/2” Diameter fuel pickup is used, replacing the factory 3/8” pickup. An Edlebrock 1792 Electric Fuel pump (regulated at the pump and good to 1000HP) was mated to a custom bracket and mounted in front of the gas tank and hidden completely. -8 Fuel line runs from the pump to the Edlebrock 1727 Regulator at the carb, properly hidden behind the carb. The carb was setup with a fast idle solenoid to work with the Vintage Air AC system. 

 

Rolling Stock: The current period sized disc brakes were freshened up only this around. The next phase calls for a much more appropriate sized calipers and rotors along with wheels to fit the larger brakes. For now the wheels were refinished and new Toyo Proxes R1R tires were installed to give the car some much needed grip.

 

How does it drive?  Glad you asked, we took to the car to the dyno at one point to help dial in the carburetor and timing in a safe environment. The car made 396rwhp at 5800RPM on the dyno and the curve will still steadily increasing when the pull endedl, in other words that isn’t an accurate measure of the full power of the engine.  The rev limiter is set to 6400rpm, and the engine will make power to 7000rpm. As it stands, when you mat the gas, the car rolls to 4000RPM and then the nose starts lifting and doesn’t ever stop, while the acceleration steadily climbs, the tires claw, and the exhaust screams. None of us have had the guts to stay in it until the RPM limiter, it is nuts. We weighed the car on our Longacre digital scales and it comes in at 3360lbs with a full tank of gas. 

 

What’s Next? Will is putting miles on the car and getting some serious smiles per gallon while appreciating all the changes and new found power. But, he literally hatched plans for Phase 2, a week before taking delivery of the car in its current state. Next on the list:

Brakes: 6 piston/14” front brakes, 4 piston/12 inch rear disk brakes, along with new custom wheels to fit over the big stoppers.

 

Exhaust: Full 1 7/8 stainless longtube exhaust headers mated to a custom 3” dual ovalized exhaust exiting at the rear of the car. 

 

 

FULL LIST OF PARTS:

  • New Brake Master Cylinder, 

  • Fixed or replaced various old electrical connectors/lights/switches etc that were just aged out and or not working in including the fuel gauge, headlight switch, parking brake lamps, and the windshield wipers.

  • Carburetor Fast idle Solenoid

  • Wheel refinishing, new Toyo Proxes R1R 200 Treadwear rated tires.

  • Front end alignment

  • Every nut/bolt/fastener/adjuster/balljoint/bushing/coupler/insulator in the front suspension removed, the entire front end was sandblasted and powdercoated black, then reassembled with all new parts

  • Extensive wire wrapping/harness repair/heat sleeve and rewiring including battery cables 

  • Silicone oil and coolant hoses

  • Custom heater and AC line routing (in the fender) for clean install.

  • Engine Timing control wiring extended and hidden in front fender.

  • New Hood insulation and emblems

  • Removed the entire interior, removed patch panels from the transmission tunnel, cut out the old repaired section, and welded in properly and sealed a new OEM Replacement trans tunnel.

  • The entire interior was sprayed with Lizard Skin sound control  barrier to make the car more pleasant to drive

  • All new 12 bolt Moser axle housing, black powerdercoated,  (previous one was bent and cracked), to go with the 3.73 Posi and Moser axles already installed. 

  • Billet Steel Flywheel (168Tooth), 

  • LS3 Crate Engine, includes the ASA Cam (.525 lift Intake/Exhaust), 226/236 Duration Intake/Exhaust, 110LSA. The engine is rated at 540hp and with the future full exhaust, it will make every bit of that.

  • Tremec TR-6060 Transmission

  • American Powertrain Hydramax hydraulic clutch kit with all the custom wiring required for clutch interlock, reverse lockout (yes) and skip shift (no)

  • Lakewood Quicktime safety bellhousing

  • Vintage Air AC System including the control panel conversion kit to update the dashboard (originally a on AC Car)

  • MSD LS Ignitiion Control

  • SPAL custom dual fans an d integrated thermostat relay control

  • Russell Complete Fuel System for Carbureted Engines: Includes Edelbrock 1000HP 1792 electric fuel pump, fed by a custom 1/2 inch in tank pickup, and mounted to a custom bracket in front of the gas tank and hidden completely. Edelbrock Fuel Pressure Regulator 1727 again mounted clean and custom behind the carburetor. Plumbed with -8 fuel line.  Edelbrock Fuel Pump Relay 1795 kit.

  • Holley LS Accessory Drive Bracket Kit 20-134.

  • Energy Suspension bushings (body and suspension)

  • BMR Subframe Connector

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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