Project Camaro, wheel warehouse, kw, whiteline

Project Camaro Part 1 - Improving Handling with KW Suspension & Whitelinewith some Help from Wheel Warehouse!

By Merrit Johnson

When the Chevrolet Camaro was re-introduced into the sports car market it came as no surprise that the industry quickly became saturated with part upgrades for the new model. The upgraded Chevrolet Camaro had available options to satisfy all the muscle car enthusiasts, such as a 6.2L LS3 V8 engine and an aggressive appearance. However, it also exemplified the influence of European and Japanese automobiles in the performance market as it was given independent rear suspension rather than the solid rear axle of old. Advances in engine technology also meant that opting for the 3.6L V6 SIDI engine for economy did not demote the vehicle from being considered in the sports car category.

Due to some past unpleasant experiences with fanatics of all things LS powered, in let’s call it the Great Lakes region of the country, there are perhaps some folks incapable of giving in to the tease of the large displacement V8. For that reason, MotoIQ’s Project Camaro features the 3.6L 304 hp SIDI V6 LLT engine. Much has already been accomplished with the GM small block V8s, so we opted for a bigger challenge with direct injection. The goal of the project is to achieve efficient, streetable performance. 
In evaluating where to start on the project it was ideal to attack the area of most deficient performance first. Some might argue that with only 304 hp the engine output was where to start, but we did not agree. The initial target of our attack was the handling department. The 5th generation Chevrolet Camaro may have been given all the underpinnings of a great sports car, but it was still designed to appeal to the general consumer and that translated to a squishy ride with lots of understeer.
To rid our Camaro of its undulating tendencies we took it to our good friends at Wheel Warehouse in Anaheim, CA. We brought with us our favorite street car staple, a set of KW Variant III multi-way adjustable coilovers. Then since suspension duties extend beyond just dampers and springs, we also sourced the full breadth of Camaro product offerings from Whiteline.


Camaro, KW suspension
KW suspension is tested to DIN 50021 SS for corrosion performance. The standard is German, but is very similar to ASTM B117, which might be more familiar to some folks. It is a salt fog test that requires a component to withstand over 480 hours of salt solution exposure before any sign of red rust. Many fasteners are targeted to this specification. The best materials will significantly exceed this test in performance.  KW's stainless steel shock bodies, stainless reinforced engineering plastic spring seats, and OEM or better quality components are all part of the reasons for being able to pass this stringent standard.  It also gives KW the confidence to offer a limited lifetime warranty.



The attention to detail in KW Variant III product design is the reason it’s one of our favorite products for street performance. Many aftermarket coilover manufacturers cheap out on quality materials that cannot withstand vehicle environmental conditions such as heat exposure, fluid compatibility and corrosion resistance.   For performance use, the KW Variant III is independently adjustable for damping in both compression and rebound.  This gives it tons of flexibility when dialing in ride and response, great for a car that's end use is both daily driving and track use.  The short bodied rear shocks use remote accumulators to allow the reduction of overall length and to reduce cavitation noise.


KW coilovers offer design solutions with more robust materials for bump stops and dust protection, along with helper springs and perch designs to reduce noise transfer to the vehicle. The features are welcome comfort additions for the street driving consumer and are well worth the additional cost they may add to the system. In this case, upgrading suspension components does not mean that one must accept an inherent increase in excessive squeak and clunk noises transferred to the passenger cabin.  The V3 also has mounts for brake lines and wheel speed sensors.


Page 1 of 6 Next Page
Bookmark and Share
Monday, October 01, 2012 5:13 AM
I'm really looking forward to how this turns out. According to Chevy's site the 2LS is about 90lbs lighter than a 2SS package. Amazing to think I used to drool over 4th Gen camaros packing a LS1 with 300hp (conservatively rated), and now we have 300hp factory 6-bangers.
Monday, October 01, 2012 5:48 AM
A co-worker keeps talking about all the combinations of pony cars and their engines and can't decide which one he is going to pick - I will link him this. I think this is a great idea for a project and i do want to see how this thing does on a track day
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, October 01, 2012 6:10 AM
The owner of the car is a GM engineer and she picked the V6 over the LS due to better weight distribution and lower overall weight.
Monday, October 01, 2012 6:17 AM
In the future I would love to see this project car compared on the track directly with some of its competitors. It would also be cool to see it on the track against another V6 Camero to show what the handling improvements (and future improvements) did. I know it's not always realistic to do so, but that's what I'm most interested in seeing.
Monday, October 01, 2012 10:18 AM
I'd like to see a track performance of the V6 vs V8 with the V8 being stock and seeing how it compares with these suspension upgrades!
Monday, October 01, 2012 10:53 AM
Twin turbo. Remember Merritt came from Turbonetics before GM. So the plan was to twin turbocharge the car. An LS series engine would have been too easy.
Monday, October 01, 2012 11:20 AM
One other option would be a twin-scroll GTX3576 or something along those lines. But I imagine it would have to be placed up front which would hurt weight distribution. Running a big 3" downpipe might be tricky too...

Anyways, just rambling.
Monday, October 01, 2012 11:57 AM
adding turbo's to this takes away the reason for getting the v6 in the first place... weight
Monday, October 01, 2012 12:23 PM
Interesting choice. I know it's not really feasible, but I'd really like to see a comparison between this and an SS with the exact same suspension setup, to see what role the difference in weight between the two engines and differences in engine length really made. In any case, neat project, I've been curios to see what that engine is capable of.
Monday, October 01, 2012 12:49 PM
@warmmilk, turbos will add some weight. I'd guesstimate in the region of 60 lbs. However, there is still a benefit of a boosted V6 over an NA V8: improved gas mileage. So boosting this V6 will maintain good gas mileage (if you stay out of boost, such as being stuck in traffic or just highway cruising) while having V8 power (or more) when asked for it.
Dashton Adams
Dashton Adamslink
Monday, October 01, 2012 1:34 PM
I'm excited to see this project, as a lot of people disregard V6 camaros and mustangs as a performance vehicles.
Monday, October 01, 2012 2:05 PM
mpg argument is irrelevant in performance cars. you can lug around the v8 in high gears and get decent mileage to, but whats the point, if i wanted good mpg i'd get a prius or a vw diesel (but i'd still get crappy mileage in those cause i'm not capable of driving nice)
Monday, October 01, 2012 2:07 PM
also, you can add power to the v8 without increasing weight, even making it lighter, so the more power than v8 argument doesn't really get you anywhere either
Monday, October 01, 2012 4:14 PM
@warmmilk, I disagree on the mpg and performance car argument. Only the hyper-exotics (McLaren, Ferrari, Lambo) don't care about mpg. However, the domestics certainly do. Check out the gearing of the Vette and Viper; the top gear is a double overdrive designed to lug the engine in the 1500-2000rpm range at 70-80mph highway speeds. Those are purely for mpg in their top-end performance cars. These cars can not hit top speed in their top gear; if these cars were geared purely for performance, they gearing would be optimized like Ferrari which is right at redline in top gear at top speed.

As for adding power to a V8, sure you can do headers, exhaust, cams, tune, but that's relatively minor gains like ~20%. To gain big power (over 600whp), you'll need a blower or turbos which add weight.
Monday, October 01, 2012 8:00 PM
Its not the most scientific data, but with the suspension upgrades I can now flow through my most frequent 405 freeway off ramp 10 mph faster than I could before. As for the future, so much as been done with the V8 LS engines already. I am more interested in the potentials of direct injection and turbocharging. The push for fuel economy is really seeing focus put in these areas.

I also recently had a good chat with the Assistant Chief Engineer on the new 2.0L SIDI turbo Ecotec engine in the Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Malibu. At upcoming autoshows folks should be able to poke at an interesting cutaway of the engine (in Malibu trim at least).
Monday, October 01, 2012 10:36 PM
600whp is possible on an NA LSx. If you're gonna spend the money to double or nearly double the power of an engine, mpg is prolly pretty low on your list of priorities.

I'm not hating on the v6, however if your goal is big power the v8 is by far the better choice. Mike said the owner picked the v6 cause of better balance and weight, why would she go and add half of the weight savings (using your 60lb assumption) on the front axle? Kinda counter productive...
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 5:48 AM
You can maybe get 600whp NA out of a LS7 with bolt-ons, cams and maybe some head work, but no way you're getting there with a LS3 which comes in the Camaro. So for 500whp+ in the Camaro, you're looking at forced induction either way with the V6 or V8.

I still disagree with your mpg assumption. Me personally? mpg is still a consideration even on a high performance car. I can tell you a lot of Evo owners are concerned about mpg and have gotten consistent 28mpg hwy (much better than the 23-24 EPA rating); they tune maps specifically for it. Look at the new M5, AMG cars, 911 turbo. You would consider all those performance cars also right? They all get significantly better gas mileage than their predecessors (on the order of 25% for the M5 and twin turbo V8 Mercs).

So, if you can make the same power, weigh less (turbo V6 less than a supercharged V8), and get better mpg, why not?
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 6:25 AM
Wow, this suspension upgrade article went straight to power gains. I'm all for more power, but I'd be most interested in comparing this car to other V6 and V8 cars that it might compete against on the track. Everyone goes straight to making more power before learning how to drive the car. Just seems bass ackwards to me. Hopefully our Divine Suspension God Kojima feels similarly.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 11:14 AM
500 whp is easy NA out of an LSx, i never said it had to be bolt-on's only. A built LSx with increased displacement can easily get over 500whp. before you go saying that it'll be more expensive than fi on a V6, custom turbo setups aren't cheap. A built LSx can be had for what it would cost to make a one off single or twin turbo setup. not to mention the V6 is direct injected, so you'd have to figure out a way to get enough fuel to support that much power, and figure out an engine management solution, that will have to be a powerful stand alone to control DI... etc. not to mention we don't know if the v6 will even support 500+whp on stock block, if not you have to build the v6 on top of the turbo set up. the point is, if you want power in the camaro, get the v8 unless you just wanna be "different" and spend a ton of money for a little bit better gas mileage. I agree with jeffball, seams to me this project is for handling, lighter weight, and balance, not power.

as far as mpg of oems, they have to cause of government requirements. don't get me wrong, if i can have big power and great mileage, thats awesome. but if you're making 600 whp, the only way you're getting good mileage is if you drive like a grandma, and whats the point if having that much power if you're just gonna pussy foot it around all the time? I have an evo and i get 17-18 mpg (only had 2 tanks of me getting 20.x). I bought the car cause i like driving, mpg is far down on my priorities list.

about the last part of your post, same power, less weight (but i'm still maintaining NA V8, so weight difference is small), but cost more. it will cost you alot more the got 600whp out of a v6 that has never been to that power level before than out of a v8 thats been done over and over again. say you get 5 mpg better (i'm being very very generous with that figure) it'll still be years till you make back the money in fuel savings...

bolt on's for the V6 sure, i'm all for it, maybe even some cams, but if you want big power, the v6 is a poor choice unless you lots of money to throw at it just for fun.

I like this project, i think its cool, i hope the make it handle awesome, keep close to stock power, and take it to the track and beat up on camaro's with hundreds of hp more! that sound alot funner than "i have a tt'd v6 camaro that i blow 20k on the engine, but i get 25 mpg!"

sorry if (not sure if the "if" should be in there) i came off sounding like an asshole :D
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 11:19 AM
come to think of it, i think the camaro's v6 at 500-600whp would come out to cost more than 20k with all the bells and wistles...
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 1:01 PM
Haha... well, I don't know how much it would cost to build a LS3 to 500whp, but if I were to say NA I would just buy a LS7 crate engine ($15k) which I imagine puts down around 425whp stock. So add cam and bolt-ons which should get it to 500whp. More power than that and still have good driveability (no super aggressive cam) and a blower will be needed. But being bigger displacement than the LS3, it will get worse gas mileage. I would just do a supercharger on the LS3 off the bat, but that would also hurt mileage to some degree; though, probably the most cost effective route to big power (600whp) if doing a V8.

MPG ratings for V6/V8 are 19/30 and 16/24, so about 20%-25%. The difference going to a larger displacement LS7 will be more.

I imagine the V6 will have to have a built bottom-end, so pistons and rods. A good custom twin turbo kit... well, there's a lot of ways to go about it. But I'd say $15k would be a good conservative figure including every little detail.

So I just had an interesting phone conversation; friend of a co-worker is picking up a Denali and wants to turbo it. The only kit out there is the STS. Anyways, he said specifically that he did not want to supercharge it because his research has shown the blower will hurt mpg and the truck will be his daily driver. So he still wants 600whp+, but decent fuel economy :) He races motorcycles and previously had a twin turbo Z06.... the guy likes his power. But he still has mpg as a consideration!

Nah, don't sound like an asshole, these debates are fun and it brings out all points of view! It is important to take into account all view points.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 1:23 PM
you can get close to 500whp with just a cam on the LS3.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 1:33 PM
ok cool, sometime people call me an asshole for debates like this.

if you throw 15k into an LS3 (staying NA), it will get you more power than a stock LS7 easily, 15k will pretty much get you a fully built NA LSx (x as a variable, not GM's LSX block) with all the bells and whistles making over 500 whp, close to if not over 600 if you go with an aggressive cam. I agree that fi is easily the most cost effective way to get the most power out of an LSx, but i was just talking NA to the lighter wieght.

once you add fi to the V6, the factory mpg rating goes out the window. 600whp will take 600whp worth of gas, fi tends to take a little more cause tuners tend to tune fi cars a little on the rich side for safety.

there's no way you're getting a built custom turbo setup v6 for 15k. does anyone even make internals for the v6 camaro? I don't know of any... quick google search didn't reveal anything, if nobody makes those parts, custom internals aren't cheap.. and again, don't forget about fueling, gotta figure out something with the DI, prolly means trial and error, which means more $$$.

about your co-worker with the Denali, cost of the STS kit and an SC kit is roughly equal (STS may even be a little cheaper if memory serves), so in that case for a DD it makes sense to pick the more mpg friendly option unless you want a specific power delivery or something. but with the 600hp v6 camaro or v8 camaro, you'll spend more to get the v6 to that power level, how many miles will you have to put on the car to make up for the initial cost of all those mods in fuel savings? (and this is assuming that the fi'd v6 will even get better mpg than the v8 at similar power) not to mention that the v8 will be more reliable at that power level. but then again, maybe the initial cost of the v6 camaro will offset the cost of mods...

another thing to check up on is if the transmission on the v6 will hold that power, and if someone makes a clutch for it that makes that power... might need a custom clutch also... more $$$ again...
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 4:21 PM
The suspension and chassis are based off the platform as the Pontiac G8 and the new Chevrolet SS. Which is the Zeta platform developed (mainly) for the Holden Commodore.

Try CAPA for superchargers.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 4:48 PM
From Jannetty Racing on the LS3:

Stock LS3 375
LT headers 400
cold air kit 410
Custom tune 415
Cam 450
Supercharger only on stocker 500
Supercharger pulley up grade with all of above except cam 560
Supercharger with all of above 600

I imagine keeping it NA and adding a FAST intake manifold will bump it up to 470-480whp, so pretty close to 500whp.

600whp fuel is 600whp fuel, but how often in your daily drive are you using 600whp ;)

For example, when I went from NA to turbo on my old Nissan SE-R, my city and hwy mileage stayed the same as long as I didn't flat foot it everywhere, though I had almost double the HP potential. So when you're stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, sitting at a light, or just cruising on the highway, the smaller twin turbo V6 will still use less fuel than the V8 even if they have the same horsepower potential. You know, I did write that article about turbos and engine downsizing ;)

Parts for the V6 will come. Just look at the FR-S/BRZ; the car has only been on the market for half a year and there are already 4-5 turbo kits for it.

For the Camaro, a V8 makes sense for 450whp target. For 500whp, initial cost of the V8 (and higher insurance) vs. the twin turbo V6, meh. V6 is lighter and gets better mileage, V8 might be cheaper in initial but higher operating costs. For 600whp, you're doing forced induction for the V8 too, so that adds weight and cost which makes the twin-turbo V6 more attractive IMO with lighter weight and better mpg.

You are correct in questioning the strength of the tranny, etc. But at the 600whp level, a new clutch is required for the V8 too.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 5:51 PM
for a fully built LSx engine, it doesn't matter if its an LS3 or LS1 or LS7, if you do a full build, they all have the same potential. that Jannetty Racing thing on the LS3 doesn't mention anything about ripping into the internals and making it a 427, or even a 455... you're still thinking only bolton's and cam, I'm talking a full rebuild.

BRZ and FRS are different, first they only have one engine in them, second, its a tuner car, pretty much everyone thats gonna buy it is gonna mod it. the V6 camaro is not a tuner car, most people that buy that will keep it stock or near stock, it doesn't make sense for businesses to develop extensive performance part of the chearleader version of a performance car. I'm not saying there won't be hard parts for the v6, but nobody is in a hurry to make them.

there is no way you're getting a tt'd v6 camaro for the same or less than a 500-600whp v8 camaro, it will cost more, you can quote me on that (at least with no existing kits available, making everything one off as is the situation with the v6 model right now). and no way in hell will operating costs be less for a 600 hp v6 than a 600 hp v8.

the v8 will require an upgraded clutch, but there are tons of off the shelf options to choose from. Are there off the shelf options for the v6 capable of supporting that much power? or would it have to be a custom clutch (costing more $$$)?
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 9:39 PM
Okay, lets say 600whp is the target. We agree a full rebuild of the LS is required right? How much does that cost? Probably on par, if not more expensive, than building up the bottom end of the V6 to handle boost. We’re talking bigger displacement on the V8, so crank, rods, pistons, bore it out, cams, head work, valves, springs, etc. I don't know the cost to build a LS3, so lets just jump to a LS7 as that's essentially a built LS3. So $15k for the crate engine. Throw in a cam, headers, exhaust, intake and tune, and that should be closing in on 600whp. Maybe some oversized valves. Can recoup some of the cost buy selling off the original stock engine. A V6 Camaro does start about $9k cheaper than a V8, so that gives a lot of cash to play with.
On the V8 path side, say $17k for the engine and mods, $9k price difference, maybe $5k for the used engine? That gives ~$21k to play with the V6. Say the $10k for the turbo kit stuff itself. That leaves ~$11k to build the engine.
Building a 600whp TT V6 (or could do a single) cost the same as building an 800whp one. To get to 800whp with the V8, you’ll need to add a blower which brings up the cost more.

Anyways, we’ll stay at 600whp. I think building the TT V6 can be done at the same cost as a NA V8. Now, bolt-ons onto the LS3 plus a blower should put it at 600whp for much less. But for 800whp, it’ll probably need a built engine and/or turbos.

Anyways, I say going TT V6 route or built NA V8 route for 600whp will cost in the same ballpark. Now, for maintenance cost, the V8 will use more fuel in everyday use, fact. Insurance for a V8 Camaro is higher. Change the oil, fluids, belts, etc. between the two, no difference. The TT V6 will probably weight less. There is no reason the TT V6 will cost more to maintain than the V8; and yes, I’ve owned two turbo cars. I change all the fluids on the same schedule as my NA cars.

I say it can be done! We shall see :)
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 10:16 AM
Just noticed my first line in my previous response got cut off (stupid cut/paste).

In the words of Barney Stinson, "challenge accepted!"
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 11:17 AM
going the ls7 route is definitely the more expensive way to go, just build the ls3, you can go higher displacement and compression than the ls7.

since there aren't any off the shelf parts available for the camaro v6, lets take a look at something with a similar engine. the 350z. everything you need exists and is available off the shelf. talk to any reputable builder, a fully built tt'd 350z is 15k-20k when all is said and done. this is with nothing custom made, everything available, everything already done before so the shop has experience doing builds like this. and you think you can fit into the same budget with everything being custom made and experimenting, and going back and redoing stuff that didn't work out like you planned? oh, and then there's still the direct injection to deal with that nobody has figured out... the only solution i've seen is a 335 where they injected a ton of meth to make up for what the stock fueling can't. but otherwise there is no bigger aftermarket injectors for DI.

on the otherhand, if you wanna go a cheap route for the v8, you can buy a junker ls1 for about 1k, get that fully built, and then even still sell the stock ls3 to recoupe a bunch of the cost. going that route you can prolly fit into about 10k for 600ish whp
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 12:34 PM
I've been so busy the last couple days, it's been hard to break up this crazy non-debate! Khiem's right all the way with this one and he mentioned STS as well. 1st if Merritt went STS, which I totally think STS and Motoiq should combine for this project, most of the ~60lbs gets distributed across the car due to the remote mounting. 2nd, they took the stock 240WHP and got 400WHP with just 5lbs(?) of boost! Stock bottom end. I would bet their kit comes in around $6-8k, which means still less than the V8(don't forget, their are 2 variants) with same or more HP AND better MPG. I'd still spend the money to WPC the crank, get H-beam rods, JE pistons and then have 2 maps for the Turbos, but that's just me. If you're going to accept the challenge like Barney, overkill/extra boost would be needed!
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 1:34 PM
I guess the STS kit would be really the only way... what are they doing for engine management? stock fuel system?

throttle response would still be a distant second to the v8.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 5:08 PM
Direct injection is really not that big of a deal. All the Mazdaspeeds, VW/Audi 2.0L turbos are direct injection and people mod the heck out of them. If you think about it, diesels are direct injection too and guys having been making huge power gains out of those (powerstrokes, duramax, cummins, etc).

IMO, part of this being a V6 is in the MotoIQ spirit. Doing it different and doing it better. And it's more fun to forge a new path :) Now... I just need to get to work my Project S2k again.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 5:20 PM
And I wouldn't say I'm "right all the way", it's just a different way to get to the same place. Plus and minus either way. I think it'll be around the same cost either way. But I see the TT V6 having a weight and fuel economy advantage. The V8 will have powerband and response advantage.
Thursday, October 04, 2012 8:17 AM
there's definately no "right" way to do it, but I still maintain if you want big power, the V8 is still the way to go.. you can bolt on a TT kit on that and it will easily be cheaper. and i still think an NA 600hp build would be cheaper than a v6 tt at the same power. the biggest reason i see for doing the v6 is just to be different... in a street car the weight difference won't make much of a difference and fuel economy difference will be small unless you drive like a granny all the time, and in that case just go buy a buick
Thursday, October 04, 2012 8:35 AM
How about if you don't want "BIG POWER"? Then what? Who cares about an LS1? Every knuckle dragger in the world thinks the only way it can be done, is with a V8.
Thursday, October 04, 2012 10:12 AM
thats kinda what i'm saying, the article said the v6 was picked for lighter weight and better balance, not to throw 60+ lb of turbo's on it. i wanna see this thing beat up on v8's at the track at stock or near stock power, not a big tt v6 build
Monday, October 08, 2012 8:48 PM
I'm surprised that none of you has mentioned/remembered Leno's turbo V6 Camaro from SEMA a few years ago:


Same concept.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 11:02 AM
yeah, but thats Leno, he has money to throw away just because...
Anonymous User
Anonymous Userlink
Sunday, March 23, 2014 8:09 AM
Post Comment Login or register to post a comment.

MotoIQ Proudly Presents Our Partners:

© 2018 MotoIQ.com