Jun 14, 2011 update to the Chevrolet Camaro project car

Delivered From Distraction

With some ARP hardware on order, we had time to test fit the Holley HP EFI.
Freshened 406 short block, meet Dart heads and a Crane Cams valvetrain.
Next up, we'll install and degree the Crane hydraulic roller camshaft.
Express Race Engines in Deland, Fla., freshened our '71 vintage 400 block and Scat 4130 forged crank.

There’s always room for improvement. We want more.

Almost one year ago, our muscle car’s 406 small-block Chevy lunched a roller lifter during a track day. Damage was minimal, but the road to recovery was riddled with distractions. The crapcan Lincoln used up most of our time. That turd of a car kicked and screamed every step of the way, but it delivered miles of endurance racing fun. With the Lincoln project entering the “fine-tuning” stage, the Camaro is again top priority.

We’ll show off key upgrades over the next few weeks, including Dart Pro 1 aluminum heads, Holley HP EFI and a track day-friendly hydraulic roller cam from our Daytona neighbors at Crane Cams. Crane also wants us to sample their NASCAR-derived distributor and Fireball ignition system. It’s so nice to work on clean, high-tech Camaro parts after chasing the Lincoln around the shop for months.

Regardless of a car’s make, model or year, weight reduction and improved efficiency are always desirable. In the case of our 1968 Camaro, a hand-built Holley HP 750 carburetor and ported cast iron cylinder heads sufficed for nearly a decade. Actually, the combination worked extremely well. Lap after lap, our small-block Chevy repeatedly screamed toward 7000 rpm. For a carburetor-equipped engine, street manners were excellent as well.

There’s always room for improvement, though. We want more. The Dart Pro 1 aluminum heads will remove an appreciable amount of weight from the nose of our car. They also represent the latest in gen i head technology. Power, efficiency and weight reduction add up to a win-win-win. Likewise, converting to electronic fuel injection presents numerous benefits. Improved fuel mileage is big news these days, but we’re way more interested in another application-specific benefit: Properly calibrated EFI will tolerate a more aggressive “Track Day” camshaft profile. The combined effects of cam and EFI should yield a broader power curve. Idle quality is in question, however. Will the Holley HP EFI system tame the aggressive cam profile? We’ll find out soon enough.

In the next update, we’ll discuss the minor machine work required to bring the block and crank back within spec. We’ll also install and degree the new Crane hydraulic roller camshaft.

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