My 1978 Camaro Type LT
Built on Tuesday, February 7, 1978, Van Nuys (Los Angeles) CA. Total Factory delivered price: $7300 (1978), equivalent to $25,683.46 in 2012!
I'm the second private owner, took possession on June 3, 1983.
Engine: 346 cu. in. ( 3.898" B x 3.622" S) 1999 Vortec Gen III 5.3L bored to LS6 bore.
Induction: LS6 manifold, 78mm DBC (drive by cable) throttle body. #30 lb/hr injectors. 80MM 5 pin MAF.
Camshaft: GM # 12565308 Also known as the "LS6" cam. Duration @ 0.050" 204/218 , Valve Lift .555" intake, .551" exhaust, 117.5 degree LSA. Hydraulic Roller tappet
Crankshaft: Gen III 6.0L cast steel, lighten and balanced.
Cylinder Heads: "243" SPM (semi-permanent molding) castings, 2.00" intake, 1.55" exhaust, 1.7 ratio rockers. High performance "yellow" valve springs.
Rods: Scat "H" beam forged floating pin rods, ARP rod bolts
Pistons: LS6 Mahle M142 high silicone alloy, floating pin design with Spirolock(tm) retainers.
Compression ratio: 10.5 to 1
Timing Chain: SA true double roller, 0 degree offset.
Ignition: LS2 coils
Electrical Power: 13.9VDC nominal. 145 amp, Corvette specific alternator.
Oil Pump: Melling high volume, standard pressure
Radiator: Custom built 4 row by Instant Radiator of Del City, OK., modified electric fan and shroud.
Fuel Delivery: In tank Walbro GSS-340 electric fuel pump, 255 l/ph rating.
Engine Management: GM PCM service # 12200411, fuel injection harness custom made by yours truly.
Exhaust: Edelbrock tri-tech coated headers, 2 1/2" dual exhaust, Dynomax mufflers
Transmission: 200-4R, external oil cooler Gear ratios: 1st gear: 2.74, 2nd gear: 1.57,third gear: 1.00 4th gear: .67. Transgo shift reprogramming kit.
Differential: Stock 3.42 Posi-trac
Final Drive Ratio: 2.29 to 1. 2095 rpm @ 70mph. 6000 rpm fuel cutoff.
Driveshaft: 4" aluminum with front yoke balancer
Wheels: 1988 IROC Z 16x8 aluminum
Tires: Yokohama S Drive 225-55-16 "W" speed rating
Brakes: Front: SSBC 11" big bite rotors, and SSBC 2piston aluminum calipers. Rear: 11 inch 9C1 police option (4" thick drum- 2" wide shoes) power assisted. Russell's stainless steel braided brake hoses and speed bleeders.
Suspension: Hotchkiss 2" drop front springs, multi-leaf rear springs. Polygraphite bushings on rear, and on front control arms and front anti-sway bar. Both front and rear anti-sway bars from a WS6 equipped 1980 T/A ( 1 1/4" dia. front, 13/16" dia. rear).
Front air dam from a 1981 Z28, rear wheel flares from a 1979 T/A.
Steering: Power assist, 1986 IROC Camaro gearbox, 2.25 turns lock to lock.
Shocks: Edelbrock Performer IAS
Interior: Stock carmine red, deluxe cloth seats with vinyl inserts (Radcliff design cloth pattern). Power windows, door locks, cruise control, tilt wheel, A/C.
Instrumentation: Full gauge package (RPO U14) standard on Type LT and Z28, Clock replaced with mechanical oil pressure gauge. 150 mph speedometer from 1971 Camaro, calibrated. Special design black light dash panel illumination designed by yours truly, first installed in 1988.
The dash panel was originally illuminated by a single 28" black light fluorescent tube, it was updated on 1-20-2013 with special UV LEDS, which resulted in a more uniform brighter panel.
Driving Impressions and History (from my perspective)
I have owned this vehicle for a long time, ever since I first fell in love with it, back on that sultry warm June day in 1983. My buddies used to call it the "cream puff". Being a one owner it was pretty well taken care of and everything worked.
The 305 2 bbl. engine was adequate for a commuter vehicle, but far below the expectations of my first Camaro, which was a 1976 Coupe equipped with the 165 hp 350. I found out early on that a couple of cam lobes were wiped, which was at the time, fairly common for that particular breed of engine. It would be the following February of 1984, that the heads got freshen up along with a new Comp 268 cam. The original 2 barrel carburetor would remain until November of that same year, when a Rochester Quadrajet and a Edelbrock performer manifold made its way on top. This added a estimated 15 horses on the stock 145. The following year would see an addition of a set of headers which would add another 15 horsepower to the 305. It was more than my '76 put out-stock.
This would serve the Camaro will until late 1987, when the main rod bearing went at 161K miles. With a succession of poorly built motors by a couple of less reputable builders, in early 1991, found a guy who could build one right. Lesson learned here is you get what you pay for!
The new 350 was built and had a set of ported heads along with Ersom TQ20 cam, this engine was a strong runner! I decided to swap trannys for a TH400 with a shift kit. Also added where a set of Comp 1.5 roller tip rockers and a Edelbrock performer carburetor. Even with the stock 2.41 gears, it would light them up in every gear and had enough torque, that if I was getting on the freeway in second gear and stomped on it, the tranny would downshift and would upshift hard enough to throw the fan and alternator belt off! I did this a couple of times, only to have the last time shred the belt enough where it could not be used, bad news- no more spare belts! When I tried to see if I could make it to a parts store a few miles up the road ( it was late October 1994, and the weather was fairly cool), the motor overheated enough where even after I let it cool and installed the new belts, it would never run right again.
I pulled the motor and transmission late in September of the following year, and sold off all the usable parts. The Camaro would set in my garage for nearly five years before another engine was installed. It was during this time that I did a fuel injection conversion on my 1982 Buick Skylark, and on April 6, 1996, it fired off for the first time. The rest, they say, is history. I decided that the next engine for my Camaro would not be carbureted. During the next four years, I would save what money I could to gather parts for my Camaro, not limited to just the power train, but also the suspension and interior parts as well. All was going well, until my wife told me we were expecting our second child in November of 1998 and that all extra funds for the Camaro was cut off. So I had to find a way to fund my project, and I began buying and trading parts and started selling locally.
In October of 1999, I found a complete tuned port set up with harness and computer at the Chickasaw swap meet. For those who are not familiar with the Chickasaw swap meet, it is held every spring and fall at the Grady County Fairgrounds in Chickasaw, Oklahoma. This ole' boy sold me the complete system for $150. When I asked him, why he was selling it, he replied, " I could never get it to start". It was off a 1988 model Camaro, the first year VATS (Vehicle Anti Theft System) was incorporated on the ecm chip. I knew that, he didn't. I just smiled as I handed over the cash, and I collected my treasure.
When I joined the Ebay community in January of 2000, things really took off. I was getting more knowledgeable on the tuned port injection, and the internet and library was a great source of information. This would serve me well, as I was buying the necessary equipment needed to troubleshoot and work on the Chevrolet injected systems. In retrospect, when I was doing my Buick's fuel injection conversion, I did not have access to the internet, only what diagrams and information I could glean from the local library.
After all the work I did on the power train, suspension, I was still working out bugs on the driveline, which proved to be a difficult task at best. If you have already read through my mechanical section, you know what I mean. It has only been recently that I have decided to go back to the 3.42 gears, and with the new driveshaft that has a balance ring, was I able to quell the vibration demon.
The Tuned Port injection on the Camaro fired up for the first time on August 5, 2000. This engine would last until a mysterious oil pressure failure in September of 2005, would prove fatal to the motor. A new engine in February of 2006, would be the best one yet, and besides that, it is 383 cubic inches, along with better bottom end, an Edelbrock Hi-Flo tune port manifold and larger throttle body, with plenty of low end torque and power.
Gone is the rear disc brakes, after all the time and effort to get them right (first installed in May of 1993), I decided to go with a early 90's Caprice police option 11 inch drum brakes. The civilian version of the 11 inch brakes, used a 3 1/4" wide drum, while the police duty saw the 4 inch wide version. These are massive and provide the braking I need, which in my opinion, are superior to the disc brakes.
The iron block version of the LS6 was installed in May 2010, and fired up on the first time on August 22, 2010. It ran for about 30 seconds and then quit. Several attempts were made to fire it back off, with no luck. Reprogrammed the computer again and then it would fire up runs for about 30 seconds or so and then quit. After some troubleshooting, it was determined the PCM was mounted too close to the alternator. Moved the PCM to its present location on the firewall behind the left side fender well.
When it was certain this would take care of the problem, reprogrammed the computer again and fired it off. It ran smooth for about the first thirty seconds and would go into a erratic but somewhat smooth idle. Opening the throttle off idle would result in a rough response. Found out it was only firing on its companion cylinders.
If you are familiar with the Gen III firing order 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3, the companion cylinders are 1-6, 8-5, 7-4 and 2,3. I found by trial that the engine was only running on 1-6 and 4,7 .
This would begin a long and painful troubleshooting ordeal, that even included pulling the motor back to check the positioning of the crank reluctor and its relationship to the crank sensor. Checking the injector connectors with engine cranking showed no problems, all coils were firing! All ground were good, clean and tight. One day in November, I happened to hook my laptop with the EFI live dashboard and found when I moved the throttle, the position was not changing! After tracing the wiring and verifying the sensor was good, found that the platform code option was set to no ETC (Electronic Throttle Control- remember this is a Corvette program). After this was corrected and verified the program was also set to recognize the mechanical throttle.
On the 14th of November, after all that trouble, the engine roared to life on all eight cylinders. After giving thanks to the good Lord above, did the crank learn procedure to get rid of the pesky P1336 code and then rolled the Camaro out on its first maiden voyage.
After fixing a few buggy problems, including replacing a brand new leaky heater core, the Camaro has not disappointed me in the power and response. I will still need to do a fine tune on it, to clear up a off idle stumble, but other than that, promises to be road warrior in all respects.
Driving the Camaro is a pleasure. With all the pieces working together, it is machine that does exactly what it was built to do. Whether it is oozing down a boulevard at 35 mph or cruising the highway at 70, it does so without any complaints. The gear ratios in the overdrive and differential compliment the torque band of the LS6, and it does so without unnecessary lugging or any of the high winding buzz of a half hearted street rod. The car was built to be enjoyed, from the minute you twist the key and take off. Take note: No trailer queen here, folks! The exhaust note is pleasant, even at highway speeds, and does not drown out conversation with your passengers or compete with your stereo. It glides down the street effortlessly, and when told to zig, it zigs, when told to zag, it zags. The powerful torquey engine, close ratio steering, superior braking ability and balanced suspension allows you to take curves and carve through traffic with confidence, which is the true mark of any well thought out design and effort.
If a car is truly an extension of ones' personality, then mine fits me to a tee.