Turbo V6 Camaro

While I wasn't exactly interested in restoring everything back here, I have too much pride to build a nice exhaust that will bolt to this mess. I did get very lucky in my endeavors though. No broken bolts!




So yeah.... icky. I tossed the old panhard bars and went to town with a wire wheel, surface prep, and paint.
Panhard bars done 2.jpg



With all that rust treatment out of the way I was able to do a rough fitment of the exhaust.
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...and figure out how to mate it with a new down pipe.
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I decided that this one would be two pieces so that valve cover removal and spark plug changes would be a breeze. I actually knocked that out of the park. This car is a lot easier to service than I envisioned.
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I loved the way it looked, but I went for a drive and thought it was the most god awful thing my ears had ever witnessed. The drone was unbearable, it was horribly loud, and the tone was way more disgusting than the open down pipe. I honestly didn't know how I messed up that badly without even trying. I was so convinced that this was just the way the car was going to be that I thought about selling it. I had gotten too far to give up though. I decided to try a muffler. If that fixed it, great. I certainly couldn't make it worse right? I just had serious doubts that a straight through diesel muffler would help anything on this turd.

It looks kind of gross, but it changed my whole attitude over the sound. It's much quieter, and you don't hear the chewbacca sounds anymore. Crisis diverted!

With the sound and smoke managed I decided the free wheels deserved some new rubber. This was great because I could finally feel all the things wrong with my suspension and driveline. lol Time to spend more money.
The flimsy stock torque arm was doing me zero favors. This UMI adjustable unit is very nice.

However, there's no use in adjusting my u-joint angles when I'm well aware that my driveshaft is too short. A local shop built and balanced this for me in a matter of 3 hours, and it only cost me $200. 3" steel with 1350s!

After this, the car behaved so differently. It was so consistent, and tame that I almost wasn't sure if I liked it! The car would just hook and book with no drama, but it felt slower as a result. lol Ever since then I've been very excited to turn up the wick, but I knew there were still other things to take care of before I start trying to blow head gaskets. lol

For one, if I wasn't going to replace the rear end assembly, a little maintenance an cosmetics would make me feel a little better.

There wasn't much fluid in there so I was very happy that I popped the cover.

No more of this ugly nonsense though. Time for some magic.



It's still the same old junk, but it's at least obvious that I tried to give it a chance at survival! That alone makes this view a lot easier on my eyes anyway. Best of all, no more leaks!

Then it was time to get ready for the 2022 GS Nationals! Notice that I dropped the intake snorkel after discovering how much of a restriction it was. Turbo lag was reduced by quite a bit.
One thing that I insisted on finishing before Nats was the gaping hole in the floor after the TKX swap. The original floor boot was no longer applicable, and I was not about to deal with the fumes and heat 5 hours there and 5 hours back. Don't worry, I bought my wife a new mat for the back door. :ROFLMAO:


Since the console was removed again, I fixed a bothersome boo boo.

I tried to get a center console lid, but it wouldn't arrive in time. :cry: It turns out you can get them with an aluminum base and lock so that they don't break like the originals. I opted for that.

I cleaned her up a bit and headed south!

It was the furthest the car had ever traveled since being modified.



Made it!!

Another 3800 guy decided to join me on Friday. I wish we could've raced!
I still can't believe I drove the car down and raced it after having no time to prove anything. lol

It's no rocket ship, but I had fun and learned a lot about what the car needs. I can't wait to go back!

Best of all, the car and I made it home!

The drive was just as educational as the track time. The first takeaway was that not having cruise control kinda sucks. I was on a mission to figure out how to add it fast. I also needed to find a way to build boost on the line and make my tires hold it. The hardest pill to swallow was that I was no longer okay with just accepting the lack of AC.

Cruise control would prove to be a very simple retrofit in this car.

well well well, if it isn't C215!

I bought a stalk, plugged it in and crossed my fingers.


No programming needed! It just worked. Wild! I should have done that years ago.

The new console lid really finished off the interior.

After such a successful trip, I really didn't wan to tear the car apart. I wanted to drive it and enjoy it, but I still like fiddling with stuff. That was when I decided to start experimenting with AC stuff on the side.

Here's the thing. I can't put a stock evaporator back in the car because I don't have space in the engine bay. Retrofitting a new one will not be easy and I'm not okay with dropping a ton of money on a Vintage Air with no plan. I want to use all stock controls, so I figured my cobbling method was the way to go regardless.

Problem number two is that I'm not adding a belt driven AC compressor. I simply don't have room. I've always been curious about them so I'm going to experiment with an electric compressor. I don't think this system will be the most efficient, but it should still be better than nothing at all. I grabbed some junkyard parts and got to hacking.
I looked for the smallest automotive evaporator I could find and came up with this.

After A LOT of hacking, I got the evaporator to sit pretty deep behind the firewall. This will have a very unique flow path. The air will cross one half of the evaporator, come out the other side, and cross the evaporator again on the other half where it can meet the ducts and/or heater core.

but cutting is easy. Now I have to seal all this up!

Using scraps from parts I cut off, plastic welding turned out to be very handy in this job.

Even the blend door got hacked up, so it would get new jams to seal on.


Recirculation valve cut to fit the new evaporator.


The parts that aren't plastic are fiberglass.


That's about all I have to say about AC for now. I'm going to need a TIG machine to finish up the box, so I lost a bit a motivation this project. I suppose I could cobble it with more ugly fiberglass, but I'd prefer not.
Very nice write up and project!
You have the MPH to be in the 12's fairly easily, cut that 60 foot time down and you are in business!
I'll bet that car shocks many people!
Good Luck and ENJOY!!!
- Jerry
Very nice write up and project!
You have the MPH to be in the 12's fairly easily, cut that 60 foot time down and you are in business!
I'll bet that car shocks many people!
Good Luck and ENJOY!!!
- Jerry
Thanks! I don't have a lot of opportunities to race, but I think I've made some positive changes that will cut my 60' by quite a bit. If not, the WOT box and some slicks will do it. The car confuses many. Everyone expects a cookie cutter V8!
Thanks! I don't have a lot of opportunities to race, but I think I've made some positive changes that will cut my 60' by quite a bit. If not, the WOT box and some slicks will do it. The car confuses many. Everyone expects a cookie cutter V8!

G'won be a WHOLE lot of late model Moostang boys asking "What the HELL jus' happened?"


Very Nice Stuff!
I missed some pictures of the exhaust construction. Oh well. Better late than never.

My plug wires were a little too close to the downpipe for comfort, but I've never been a huge fan of the bulky fiberglass sleeves. I decided to try this fancy stuff from DEI. So far I've had no issues, and it looks slick!


I was also not a fan at all of how this exhaust was constructed so I modified it a bit. I welded the adjustment points and the hanger clamp. Then I cut off the excess. I also wanted to apply some wrap where it got close to the floor and gas tank.







Okay now back to post-Nats!

I didn't end up pulling my GN out of storage until June. I thought it would be fun to pull it out and drive both cars to a show.

The coolest part about that show was that a mobile dyno showed up. $100 for three pulls. Sign me up!
As you'll be able to hear, I was doing a test with plugs. I wanted to see if I could get away with a warmer plug and bigger gap for more MPG. As it turned out it was mostly a no. I was able to open the gap about .010" on my colder plugs, but none of it made a difference in MPG. I just had a smoother idle. I wouldn't figure that out until after dyno time, so the boost stayed at 12psi the whole time.
Despite that, I whooped my previous numbers!

I was super happy with this. I bet with good plugs and a small turn of the happy knob I'd be at 400whp, but I'd really be pushing the limits of Fel-Pro head bolts and L36 Fel-Pro gaskets.

I was happy with this so I continued to just tool around and go to shows/cruise nights. Here are some shots entering and leaving a cars and coffee I attended inside IMS.




...but the AC work wasn't thrilling enough, so I started gathering parts for the next chapter of this cars life. As you saw before my hiatus, I think I already had a cam, lifters, timing set, machined oil pump cover, and head studs. I also decided to go with a stock style L67 head gasket that's known to hold way more pressure than I'll ever make with studs. I really wanted to get a set of ported heads to make the most of my cam, but I wasn't really willing to pay the $1800 price tag.

Then I started trolling Facebook Marketplace. One boring day at work I came across a deal that seemed too good to be true. A Grand Prix Comp G with a set of Intense Stage 3 CNC ported heads was being parted out. The guy was only asking $750 for the set. :oops: The catch was that neither of us wanted to deal with shipping iron heads, they were in Pittsburgh, I'm in Indy, and I had to pull those heads off a fully assembled W-body (WITH HEADERS) myself. o_O Looking back on it, I should have backed out. However, the want was very strong and I still managed to do very well in the deal. I took a half day off work, packed a bag of tools, drove over 6 hours to Pittsburgh, got to work in the gravel driveway, had the supercharger, intake, headers, and heads removed in about an hour and a half, and made it back to my house by about 1:00 AM. o_O I was very lucky that the guy was super cool and not a flake because there were a lot of opportunities for that trip to go sour... including the torrential downpour that arrived about 20 minutes after finishing the job.

I enjoy these kind of drives though. It was my first time ever seeing Pittsburgh and West Virginia! For $750 I not only came home with the heads, but a port matched M90 intake, a GenV M90 with a 3.0 pulley, a set of ARP studs, and a strut tower brace. I might use the intake some day, but I probably won't use anything else. Let me know if you want/need the other stuff. I'm keeping these gorgeous heads though.

Those are some smooth ports and combustion chambers! Valves are quite large too.


I soon gave them an appropriate paint job to match the car. Blue isn't my color.

Much better! I wish I was installing them on the car instead of a shelf, but I know it's not the right thing to do at the moment.

But what was the right thing at that moment? I guess just keep driving! I decided to take the car on another long trip to find out how much it improved since BG.


I drove this jalopy all the way up to Ludington, MI. Cruise control was a huge game changer. It allowed me to achieve 20 MPG which is the highest I've ever recorded.
I didn't go home the way I came. I took Hwy 10. Kinda funny seeing a Michigan welcome sign halfway up the coast!


As the porter pulled my car on to the ship, I noticed that the car was burning oil. :oops: I'm gonna ignore that.

This ship is really interesting. It's called the S.S. Badger and it's apparently the last coal fired steam ship still in service. If you get sea sick I don't know if I'd recommend this one. She's very old and Lake Michigan isn't exactly calm. The experience was worth it though.

Four hours later, I was in Manitowoc, WI.

I wasn't the only one Roadkilling it either.




Went to a Sheboygan brat festival

If I wasn't strapped for time I would have shot a picture of my car in front of this amazingly themed bar.

After a long hot drive I met up with a buddy who lives in Milwaukee, stayed the night there, and headed back to Indy in the morning. The car burned a little oil on take-offs and start-ups but that's it.

I also noticed while beating on the car hard that the clutch would slip. It stunk horribly on the dyno, and I knew that it was only rated for 400ft/lbs, so it was time to upgrade again if I wanted to add more power. The issue with that is almost nobody has a 3800 making that kind of power through a longitude manual transmission. I would have to get a custom clutch. This is only the second twin disk Monster clutch for a 3800 ever made, and I'm so excited to try it out.


One thing that kinda blows is that it's built with a zero balance. 3800s are externally balanced, so I cannot just bolt this on. I will have to remove my old flywheel and clutch and pray that the local race engine shop is willing to mirror balance the assembly. It's also a lot thicker which means I'll probably have to install the LS style low profile TKX bearing retainer. I hope I still have it!

We're almost caught up. lol

I started trying to figure out why I was burning oil. I didn't think it was valve stem seals, but the symptoms pointed that direction. My turbo looked and felt fine, but given my crazy oil pressure and past inlet restrictions I decided to look into the seals. The charge pipes and intercooler weren't oily, but I did see this.

This filter must be junk! Time to break out some old GN parts. I've had this K&N 2 footer for years. Certainly this isn't a restriction, right?

Maybe so!

It has a turbo guard now and the spool time is MUCH improved. The car is so much more fun to drive on the street! I'll save the monster filter for longer trips, but I'm going to risk it with the screen for now.
Back to the smoking issue. I had to do some real diagnosis. I found the issue pretty quickly.

Valve stem seals weren't doing much anymore. There were two seals like this on the same head which is the one I replaced when I first got the car. Given that this head came from a known worn out engine with bad rings, I'm guessing the valve guides are going bad. I removed the springs on that side, pushed the seals back into place, and tried to nurse this thing along for the remainder of the year. No dice. It started doing the same darn thing after a couple long drives. Good thing I have new heads that I'm itching to install!

So that pretty much catches you all up. The car runs and drives great! It's just a little smokey sometimes. I ended up trading the ST5 cam I had straight up for an ST2 cam because I thought it was a better fit for my application. I don't want it to cruise weird or lose low/mid range power. This winter I'm hoping to do the heads/cam swap with the engine out of the car. This will be the first time that I fully drop the k-member so wish me luck! The clutch will go in at the same time along with a Spohn tubular K-member I've been hoarding. I'll replace the suspension bushings with poly and probably install coilovers too. The monster truck stance and ghetto bounce over bumps are bothering me lot more than the horsepower.

BUT I still have a 600hp goal for the next time I hit the dyno! That means my 80#s and fuel pump will be ready to tap out. Good thing my GN can use them!
Holy ton of pictures, Batman!

Glad you're enjoying the car, and I look forward to helping figure out how to dial in that spare PCM business.

Maybe if I decide to tinker with a manual RWD 3800 build, I'll ask for some clutch/flywheel selection tips.
Holy ton of pictures, Batman!

Glad you're enjoying the car, and I look forward to helping figure out how to dial in that spare PCM business.

Maybe if I decide to tinker with a manual RWD 3800 build, I'll ask for some clutch/flywheel selection tips.
I've been keeping busy! It's just been mostly outside of the garage now. Hopefully another boring winter will be cause for some big Camaro upgrades before Nats in 2023. Is there much to be done in terms of the spare? I thought we determined that all I would need to do is buy the credits unless you're able to do a full clone.

Man, I look forward to your RWD build whatever and whenever that may be. I actually thought I would be starting my second RWD 3800 project over the weekend when I saw the GNs Scanmaster display double digit KR and heard some serious hammering from the engine. o_O My alky tank ran dry, but the engine didn't didn't blow. If she did, I don't think I'd be sticking with a 109.
Hopefully, the engine survives. I've known of a few 3800's make their way into GN's and other G-bodies with success. Series 2/3 block/heads are more than capable of going pretty far, which is a shame they didn't continue getting attention when they got in F-bodies (LS1's took all the attention and ran with it, rightfully so, I guess).

If you've gotten the spare done, that's good. I'm going to hunt junkyards for some inventory, and use the DHP to get any of them ready for HPT. Using DHP to scan/tune the Regal, still, just because I haven't decided to dump the credits on it, yet. First credit buy will probably be for 98 F-body that's going to be my universal RWD tune OSID, like the old 98 GTP one was for DHP v1.0 tunes.
There's been an interesting turn of events. Around this time of year is usually when I start concluding "driving season" and begin "project season" for the Camaro. In order to do that I need to free up a Grand National sized space in the garage. On my way to storage I was trying to use up some of the alky that would inevitably evaporate over the winter and...




I've never seen the nut spontaneously un-torque itself before, but it's certainly throwing a wrench in my Camaro plans for the winter. I'm not too upset about it because I've admittedly neglected the GN over the past couple years while focusing on the 3800 things. I drove the GN home about an hour, hopped in the Camaro, and stored it instead. I'm talking to one of the members here about a TA49 he has for sale. While that may be a very simple upgrade, I'm going to take this rare opportunity (GN in garage with no Camaro in the way) to remove the downpipe and headers for ceramic coating. A lot of things will be removed, cleaned up, resealed, and repainted. I'm also getting rid of that dang alky system once and for all. I'll talk to Full Throttle about upgrading the fuel pump to one of the fancy new Racetronix units with new lines, a chip for 80# injectors, and a dyno tune for E85. I will then just give up the Camaro injectors for the GN to use and upgrade the Camaro to 120s.

I might still try to get the Camaro to the Nats. We'll see. I still have a set of EV6 80# injectors with adapters I can use, and the smoke can be combatted with s et of GM stem seals. If I get really ambitious I'll put the new clutch in, but I think engine upgrades are off the table.
Ugh, well I hope the new updates get us to Page 16, so these 500 pix don't make me wait 30sec to load the page (unless someone wants to pay for me to have more WiFi signal in my garage).

RIP that turbo, though. These things always know when you're about to get comfortable, and throw a wrench in the mix, literally.
Lol even with good internet it's kind of irritating to scroll through. I like to think that pictures speak 1000 words though.

No kidding. I was warned that turbo Buicks would be a love/hate relationship. Even this mostly stock example has not been an exception! I'm hoping a turbo upgrade, e85 conversion, valve springs, and a good tune will help me fall in love again.