🔧 BUILD LAME Turbo V6 Camaro

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Hello! Welcome to the shit show! I am updating this post in 2021 to explain what new readers are about to witness. If I knew that this thread and build were going to explode into what it is today, I would have started it out a lot different.

This car was (and still is) a basket case. The whole inspiration for starting this project was to start learning how to modify engines in a car that I didn't like. That way, if and when I screwed up, I wouldn't be ruining a nice car. It spiraled out of control from the first moment that I felt boost. I loved what I had created, but it took a ton of work to get to where I was. As soon as I got the car running nicely I was always saying "I'm going to fix______, and THEN I'll just enjoy driving it." You know the drill. Drive, break, fix, repeat! Before I knew it, I enjoyed driving and working on this turd more than the nice car I was trying to preserve!

The point is that the focus of this thread shifts A LOT. To complicate matters, I never have just one ongoing project open at a time. I listed some thread contents with links below. I will update this as new milestones or big updates happen. Just know that even if you click on the shortcut, you may have to scroll past other project posts to reveal the outcome. There are also some mini-projects and very helpful advice from other members in between, so read the whole dang thing if you want!

2018-2019
1. A late introduction
2. Discovering how a PCV works (and plugging it)
3. Custom grill for intercooler
4. Fuel pump trap door
5. Learning that I'll never learn anything from my goofy wide band gauge
6. Deleting AC completely, but retaining heat
2020
7. Low profile heater hose fittings
8. Deleting an air bag without setting a light on the dash
9. Starting a second round of floor repairs
10. ABS delete and line lock installation
- A separate thread for the electrons
11. Installing catch cans with nice brackets (Way overkill)
12. Figuring out the "blow by" problem once and for all (F-body intake plug)
13. Second clutch job, first rear cover job, and preliminary transmission swap research
14. Floors are "done", and Interior is installed.
15. I don't know how to tune, but this wide band might help.
16. Poly trans mount. Yeah, it actually deserves a link.
17. I waved the tuning white flag. Dyno Brian sets me straight!
18. T5 Pro5.0 shifter
19. New shifter was too much fun. OG T5 explodes, and my transmission conversion ideas start to get serious.
-TKX conversion
-TKX swap official write-up
20. Reconfiguring my exhaust for a quieter and less leaky future
21. I'm not done enjoying this car for the year, so I install a $100 T5 instead of a bulletproof conversion. SPOILER ALERT: It only lasts two months.
22. Minor repairs/updates that make the car livable (lighting, stereo, speedometer re-zero, and a clutch master cylinder that actually does it's job!)
23. Wheels and addressing rust again since I got time!
2021
24. Custom center caps
25. 1.9 roller rockers and LS6 springs
26. CAI V2.0
27. TKX is delayed so it's time to address the little annoyances.
-OE pan is junk. Dorman pan gets hot rodded
28. TKX is still delayed, so I install just one poly engine mount and beef up my flimsy turbo drain plumbing
29. TKX does NOT ship the following Monday. Flywheel bolts upgraded to ARP M10 x 1.0
30. When you're on a Chinese garbage budget, you better be ready to work harder. (Oil drain fitting hot rodding)
31. Finally repairing the oil sender pig tail, replacing the other engine mount, and test fitting the TKX.
32. Finally addressing rear brake lines while I wait for more transmission parts.
33. Modifying an ICM for a WOT box
34. Dash gets re-instrumented so that diagnostics become possible.
35. N2MB WOT box
36. Porked crank key. PSA: Be careful installing your balancer!
37. Car runs great after plug change, but the rear main seal needs to be changed again.
38. BURNOUT! Also, I kinda bought a cam.
39. Turbo drain finale (better be) and full exhaust commenced
2022
40. Downpipe V3 and BMR strut tower brace
41. Panhard bar and relocation for bro truck exhaust
42. Muffler, driveshaft, torque arm, and giving up smoking.
43. First trip to the GS Nationals (feat. time slip)
44. The very custom AC project is born
45. New dyno results (up 50 hp!)
46. Exhaust hanger repair before Michigan/S.S. Badger/Wisconsin trip
47. Sizing a better turbo
48. Painting but still not installing the IS3 heads and Monster clutch unboxing
49. Firewall brace
50. New ECM
2023
51. Out of storage and SC engine buy failure #3
52. Modified double roller and spitballing crankcase evac ideas
53. Completing the rear suspension. UMI rear control arms.
54. Cracked headers and L32 swap begins
55. My newest L32 was trash. I'm upgrading the L36 instead
56. Side project: The ultimate-ish intake manifold takes shape


Now back to 2018!
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Now that this car is running and driving, I figured I would start a thread dedicated to all the questions I’m about to pummel this group with. This is the first time I've really built anything to move quicker than stock, so I'm hoping to learn a lot from you guys before I make unnecessary mistakes. I also have a thread in the Turbobuick.com 3800 section, but I'm not getting as much input there due to a lack of audience. Here goes nothing...

The car I have is a 2002 Camaro with only ONE factory option (rear window defogger). The story supposedly goes that my buddy's dad was looking forever for a new Camaro because he never buys anything for a penny more than the best deal. He almost ran out of time as this was the final model year for the F-body, and '03s were already on the market. The dealer from which he found this car bought it for the sole purpose of being able to advertise "Brand new Camaros for under $10k", so this was the one he took home.

Fast forward to 2018. The car was structurally a wreck from living in the rust belt, but has a great interior, okay black paint, a third pedal, a 3800 (which is a plus in my book), and a lot of sentimental value since I remember riding in it when it was brand new. My buddy’s dad handed me the keys in hopes that I would enjoy it and make it a race car. To be honest, I don’t care for F-bodies, but I couldn't resist this one for the reasons above despite knowing that the floors were in desperate need of existing again.

I already had my dream car which is a 1986 Buick Regal Grand National. As much as I love that car, I like it the way it is in fairly stock form and modifying Buicks has gotten terribly expensive anyway. I figured a black 3800 Camaro could easily fulfill my childhood dreams of racing a badass turbo Buick V6 car while being on a budget, so here I am.

The car is now equipped with:
-6765 ebay turbo
-Precision PW40 wastegate
-Custom turbo exhaust utilizing a stock Camaro and FWD manifolds
-Air to air ebay intercooler
-AEM 50-1200 fuel pump
-Siemens Deka 80# fuel injectors
-Open 3” downpipe
-Custom 3” charge pipes
-Intense mail order tune
-Very ugly but functional upright radiator conversion (the core support was all just rust anyway) :dunno:
-Custom space saving AC delete without bypass pulley
-Midwest Chassis bumper support modified to mount my intercooler
-Spec Stage 1 clutch kit

The car is far from refined and has a lot of little issues to sort out, but I will leave the first post as sort of an introduction to that. I hope you enjoy hearing about it. It’s been fun to build!

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v6buicks

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You'll be happy when the salt is gone and you're tooling around in it.
I hope so! I have an idea that actually sounds miserable but worth it. Once the GN is no shit done, I might send the Monster clutch in for a balance job, and if it's done before Nats I'll try to throw that in there. It's the known driveline Achilles heel in this car, and if I don't do it before Nats I about guarantee that I won't do it at all this year.

Plus... The suspension may be wonky and the rear end may be a toothpick, but the clutch has been the only thing keeping me from turning up the happy knob. ?
 

v6buicks

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After all the efforts I've made on the GN, I must say that it is very difficult and strange for me to pull a fuel rail like this out and then simply replace the injectors and throw it back in. It needs paint!!
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but I have neither the time nor the patience for this car to go through that sort of effort.
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It's not that I don't love this car. I've learned a fuck ton by fumbling my way through this build, and there are a bunch of aspects about it that tickle me in ways that no other car has. Let's not forget the sentimental aspect it held prior to any of this. I was driven home from school in this car as early as third grade.

but... as a grown assed man, I've hated on F-bodies and their hype. I saved THIS car because of the sentiment but I was ready to build anything that was simple, RWD, stick, cheap, and most importantly, relatively DISPOSABLE. I was looking to have for cheap thrills for a few summers and something to wrench on. This filled the void extremely well, but that means it's once again time to make a decision.

Remember how this car was also an excuse to not modify the Grand National? We all see how that worked out. Thanks to the trials and tribulations on the Camaro, it's already worked out way better than I could have ever imagined. While I think the modifications I did to the GN were very tasteful, I think the results are about to remind me of what it's capable of doing. In fact, I think it's going to end up faster, more fun to drive, and take all my attention away from the Camaro this summer. If this ends up being the case, the Camaro is going to end up looking pretty silly in my fleet.

I guess this new corrosion is a reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that time happens to be cut a lot shorter when you start with pre-rusted jalopy. Has the Camaro lived its life? Do I need to move on to something new? I am looking for a new DD.... Should I convert this thing to 93, get all the MPGs, install a catalytic converter (so that it doesn't stink anymore), and daily drive this thing until the wheels fall off? Should I sell it whole and as-is? Should I remove the 3800 and TKX for the next car and give the Camaro a viking funeral? All these ideas seem like a waste of funds and efforts to be honest, but I need to actually finish the GN before thinking too much about it. My main point is that jumping back into the Camaro wasn't exactly met with burnouts and Whitesnake blasting on the radio. My motivation to modify and install a $1600 clutch into the turbo v6 jalopy that's going to be completely overshadowed by my other turbo v6 car is understandably low. Even heads, cam, and suspension aren't going to fix it. By then, there might not be much car left to modify! I can do much better now than when I started this in 2018. I just need a new vision.
 

v6buicks

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You put a lot of work into this. I know your excited about your other one but you'll regret doin anything wild with this one
I think I would very much regret selling the car as a whole unit and trying to start over. However, I do think there is room for compromise. I'm fully aware that this car is not worth restoring. Even if it was, I still don't like F-bodies enough to do that. At the same time, I'm not sure if I want to get involved in another project that would require as much reinvention as this one.

I wish I could take everyone here for a ride so they can experience what I'm trying to describe. lol Putting good valve stem seals on it, quieting the exhaust down a little more, fixing the blown out suspension, and getting AC back in it would help a lot. I think the suspension is starting to bother me more than it used to. The shocks are fucked and the car has an awful reverse rake. Almost every bump in the rear brings it to the bump stops which I actually spent a lot of money to replace. I didn't want to smash my exhaust. It handles remarkably well given the circumstances, but it feels really sketchy because of how much it darts. I have a death grip on the steering wheel while just trying to keep straight. lol It's just stressful being in this thing. It looks and sounds terrible.

I have a lot of work to do and money to spend if I want to go faster. I know I mentioned the clutch, but even that's not THE fix if the car is all over the road. Do I really want to spend another 2500 on a rear end for a car I don't like? 3000 on suspension? What's next? Probably brakes. Roll bar? I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record here. I have this same debate with myself at least once a year. lol

....but this begs a new question. Is this just how highly customized project cars are in general? Even our idols with the nicest cars around tend to get bored and move on. Those who don't are rarely satisfied. It's always a work in progress. With that in mind, will a new car to destroy change this? Probably not! I have ideas for 3800 swaps, but I don't think I'll be able to execute them any better. Plus, there will be other compromises that I don't even know about yet. Sometimes it's better to stick with what you know. In this case, I know my Camaro really well including everything that's horrible about it.
 
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sktchy

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You really think the YouTube cars aren't just as ratchet as our stuff with its quirks your only fooling yourself. Just look at the sema stuff for starters.

And who said you had to make it faster? I've looked down that road for way too long and decided it's just better to enjoy it for what it is. Haven't really messed with my own much since I've been crazy busy selling myself short at work but it's just the same. Small stuff can be fixed and the only deadline is one you set for yourself. Quality is gonna take patience, and skill as well as money blah blah...lost my train of thought but don't shit on this car because the other ones prettier, it's stayed together a lot longer than most turbo builds I've seen and it got you this far.
 

Mr_Roboto

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You really think the YouTube cars aren't just as ratchet as our stuff with its quirks your only fooling yourself. Just look at the sema stuff for starters.

And who said you had to make it faster? I've looked down that road for way too long and decided it's just better to enjoy it for what it is. Haven't really messed with my own much since I've been crazy busy selling myself short at work but it's just the same. Small stuff can be fixed and the only deadline is one you set for yourself. Quality is gonna take patience, and skill as well as money blah blah...lost my train of thought but don't shit on this car because the other ones prettier, it's stayed together a lot longer than most turbo builds I've seen and it got you this far.

Had this conversation with someone today. Do you really think all those dudes own a C8 free and clear? No, you get to see the part of reality that's sunshine and rainbows without the fog, darkness, rain and sleet. It's bullshit and a bullshit standard to compare yourself to.


I think the suspension is workable. For $500 on Rock Auto you could get a set of fully adjustable front struts and fully adjustable rear shocks and some rear springs. No it's not a set of coil overs with all the fixings and tubular everything but it'd get you in a good position and do such and it'd probably be a weekend project.

Fuck the valve seals unless you're putting your heads on. If it's at start up what ever.

A/C, yeah I could see why you'd want that. You've got time to make that happen and even drive it for probably about 2 to 3 months depending on when you drive it.

Exhaust? Come on, if your exhaust isn't janky a race bullet or muffler swap. From what I remember it's not a janky exhaust. That's not a huge project take it some place and pay them an hour or two and some pipe if it's that annoying.

Your problem is you're letting perfect get in the way of adequate. You've got a relatively fast custom built car that you just let sit over the winter, got into and clicked it right the fuck off. Think about that for a minute, you didn't bullshit with it you just started it up and drove off.

You could also drive it around and beat on it without feeling the least bit bad. I DGAF how fast your GN is, you'll never do that with it.
 

v6buicks

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I think you guys got me a little wrong, but I do appreciate the love for the car. Like I say, I wish I could take you for a ride!

I'm not inspired nor jealous of youtube cars. I am inspired and jealous of some of what some youtubers get to do on a daily basis, but that's different. My idols are guys I've met and hung out with in real life. They have beautiful Buicks which are the true definition of fast with class. Mine are not. One is kinda fast for what it is, but raw as hell, and the other is just classy. lol

I'll just let the cat out of the bag.... I'm gonna be a dad soon. I'm very excited! However, you can see that I'm also going through a bit of a crisis over it too. I've been working on building my vehicular dreams almost non-stop for about 6 years. It's gonna be very tough to watch it come to a screeching halt whether I'm at a good stopping place or not. Worth it? Yes, but hard nonetheless. I realize now that selling the Camaro is likely to result in getting nothing to replace it, so it just needs to stay.

Anyway, I'm not sure where this bad boy is going yet, but I got it back from Jason yesterday. I'm not sure how the F he managed to get it back in the plastic. :LOL:
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In reference to my 3800 thread, I'm kinda back on the idea of buying my buddy's Comp G because I can't stand the thought of it going to waste anymore. It's no Buick but it's black, 3.8 powered, and too good of a deal. It would be a fun and solid car AS-IS once I throw a fuel pump in it. Bonus is that if I blew a transmission or something I would have a donor car for the Camaro. The thought of waiting that long to make Camaro engine progress makes me wince a bit, but I'll get over it. lol
 

GTPpower

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Congrats on being a dad! It definitely slows the car stuff down, but only for a few years, and you'll figure a way to work around it too.

One thing about the comp g. I'm not sure how big you are, but I'm 6'5" and I feel like my head is tight up against the roof while driving the 04+ cars. I had a nice comp g for awhile with a cammed l26 in it....fun to drive, but the 97-03 cars were way more comfortable for me.
 
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v6buicks

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Congrats on being a dad! It definitely slows the car stuff down, but only for a few years, and you'll figure a way to work around it too.

One thing about the comp g. I'm not sure how big you are, but I'm 6'5" and I feel like my head is tight up against the roof while driving the 04+ cars. I had a nice comp g for awhile with a cammed l26 in it....fun to drive, but the 97-03 cars were way more comfortable for me.
That's kinda what I figured. It will be here I'm ready.

I'm about 5'11" so I'll fit! I do prefer most of the other FWDs over late GPs, but I will admit to liking some of the features in this one. I've never had a HUD before. It had brand new 10-spokes which look amazing too. Hopefully I can get the AC to work without much of an issue. That's kind of a big must.
 

v6buicks

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I'm sad because this starter looked brand new when I installed it. It's one I robbed from the clean but roached L36 with bad rings. That engine has has been completely useless to me so far. ?

I guess I'll plan to get under there and turn it in as a core. I have absolutely missed driving this turd, and I look forward to getting the suspension sorted.
 

v6buicks

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I had a thought today....

This how all of my stupid ideas start, but I kinda want to reenable my PCV. The reason I blocked it off in the first place was because I thought I was pushing boost through it. Now that I have the intake modified appropriately, there should be no reason why the OG PCV wouldn't work. Maybe the rings would seal better with a little vacuum. Maybe it would stop or at least help the smoking? Sounds like a good idea to me.

I would think that the catch can is still a good thing. It grabs a lot of corn water that would otherwise be in the oil, so I would need a check valve to keep that working right. I'm just not sure if I can make it pretty or not. That may be tricky. Then again, people have been running valve cover breathers on GNs with functional PCVs for decades. That's the way mine will be. Perhaps I can leave the Camaros that way too if nothing else looks right.
 
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