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Old 03-05-2012, 07:25 PM   #1
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Daily Driver Project: Valentine

I received Valentine, my new 2012 1SS/RS, a couple weeks ago and it's time to start my build thread. I won't be modding this car *too* much because it's my daily driver and must keep its full warranty (an agreement between my wife and I). I have some other projects that don't have that problem, so this one will stay modest for 5 years. That being said, I sure as heck can't leave it all stock, it's not in my blood.

Story time:
Between 2ndgens, 3rdgens, and my previous 2010, this is my 9th Camaro, but my first "I ordered it myself!" car and therefore one of my favorites.
Back in 2004 I penciled up a concept "2004 Camaro SS" in retro 1stgen guise, and in 2006 Chevy brought my dream to reality (albeit with a lot more angles and sharp lines) with the concept that we all know so well. Fast forward to 2009, I about cried when I saw the first published curb weight. In a heartbeat it all but killed my desire for this car, and that's the main thing that kept me from jumping in right away. To this day that is, by far, my least favorite part of the whole experience. But I digress...

Along comes April 2010 and I needed a new daily driver ASAP as none of my old projects were cutting it anymore when it came to reliable transportation, and I just wanted a good solid warranty for once. Of course I wouldn't just buy a run-of-the-mill econo box or anything of the sort, and I wanted something that was 'me'. There was only one choice.

Enter the 5thgen.

I could have driven away in a 2010 SS but I instead chose a 1LT. *Gasp* Why would anyone do that? Comparative agility and that oh-so-sweet LLT, that's why.
The SS felt like a truck to me. It's hard to describe any other way. The weight is just everywhere. The 1LT, while still being hugely overweight, felt a bit lighter on its feet overall.
I was okay without the 120 extra horsepower of the SS seeing as how I had faster cars anyway and this was my daily driver. I love all the tech in the LLT (and now LFX) and that 7000 rpm scream through the Corsa catback... oh my. A V8 will always sound better in my book... but that V6 does sound great.
They had to DX what I wanted down here from New York so it had 300 miles on it when I got it. I never quite liked that and while it was my first new car, it just didn't quite seem 'brand new'. Ya know?

Zoom ahead about 20 months and ten-thousand miles, a red-light runner took out my beloved 2010 Camaro. Though not a bad accident, it was totaled. For that story and the details look here:
http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=188861

So the stage was set. Time to go for test drives. We like the Volt... a lot... But a Camaro vs. a Volt? Huh? We could only have one. The Volt would be hers since she has the long commute and I'd get her CIVIC. Ouch. Long story short, we decided on the Camaro for me.
FE4 is the RPO of the day. I test drove a 45th SS and something just clicked. GM done did right with this one. Still very heavy, but feels more sporty, less truck-like. You wouldn't think the small changes would make a big difference, but I sure did notice them. Time for a 2012 SS? SOLD.

Here's what I wanted: Black 1SS manual, RS, rear view, and C&C packages, and that's it, so that's what I ordered. No 300 mile 'new' car for me! They built it for me. Just over 5 weeks from initial order to delivery. Not bad.
For the details, look here:
http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=196702
and here (later into the thread):
http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=202049

Why "Valentine"? You guessed right... it rolled off the assembly line on 2/14/2012.

I asked for NO dealer prep when it arrived. My salesman failed to tell anyone, but I called the service guys myself ahead of time and they promised to leave it alone. The only thing that bugs me is that the guys unloading it from the truck pulled off the white plastics, and I wanted to do that. Ah well, no big deal.
I did want them to do the PDI only, and the service guy let me do the PDI test drive, making me the first to actually drive my brand new SS.
They left in place all of the papers in the interior, and I collected them up and put them in a file. I want to frame the build sheet and window sticker, but it's a low priority right now.

Without further ado, here's my new SS the day it arrived, still dirty from the trip from Oshawa, just the way I asked for it.
This is my SS. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:33 PM   #2
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Now that we have the story out of the way, time for the mods!

I have a very specific theme planned for this car, and I won't reveal what that theme is until it's done. It will become obvious throughout and some of you will catch on sooner rather than later, and that's okay. Guess all you want, but I will not confirm nor deny any of it.

First major order of business: Getting rid of the huge, heavy 20's and replacing them with lighter 18's and 295/45/18 Nitto NT05's (the street tire, not the drag radial).
However, I've gotta pause there for the night. More to come on that, I'm still working on it.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:44 PM   #3
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Congrats on being a long-time Camaro buff....can't wait till the mods begin....
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:34 PM   #4
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I haven't been posting about this because I've been busy working on it. (Whenever I get a chance, that is.)

I've yet to complete my aesthetic mods to the 18's, but they're on, and Ohh... Emm... Gee..., these NT05's GRIP in the turns. I haven't tried launching it because the car still only has 115 miles on it now so I'm still breaking in the clutch, but with another inch of sidewall, an extra 20mm of width (in the rear), a more aggressive tread pattern, and a much stickier compound, I expect these to launch significantly better than the stock Pirellis. To top it off, they also ride better.
I've never driven a car that pulls so many lateral G's, despite it being one of the heaviest cars I've driven. These tires really are amazing.

Going with 295's all around, in addition to the FE4 upgrades for 2012, should have eliminated the understeer, or close to it. At this point I don't know if it has because I haven't reached the tires' limits yet.

The wheels are 18x9.5 with a +35mm offset all around, and have a true 5x120mm bolt pattern, but a 72.6mm centerbore. I don't feel it necessary to run hubcentric rings with lugcentric wheels as others do, though, and all is well. They weigh 23 lbs each.
As with many wheels, these require skinnier lug nuts so I bought a set of locking lug nuts for them.
The rear wheels bolted straight on without any mods whatsoever (as expected), but the fronts required eliminating the roller skates, as you may already be aware of, and also required grinding off a bit of the knuckles from that protruding non-structural flange (also as expected). They clear everything else with plenty of room.
As far as I know, these wheels haven't been used on a Camaro before this. They're Miro 942's, replicas of BMW 313's (my theme has nothing to do with BMW, they just so happened to be pretty close to what I was looking for). They make these in 19's also.

Full car pics will have to wait, but here's some of what I have now (huge pics at full size).

Roller skates whacked off (I don't have a good enough reason to replace the brand new brake pads for my daily driver):



Cleaned up with a couple squirts of plasti-dip to prevent rust:



Knuckle before:



Knuckle after:



Wheel clearance, about 4mm (and rusty brand-new rotors... I know! They're all cleaned up and bedded-in now):




Caliper clearance:



Front:



Rear:


Last edited by ALLTRBO; 04-05-2012 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:52 AM   #5
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Here's another project I've been working on... It isn't too difficult (especially since I'm NASA certified in hand soldering ), but it is very time consuming. Anglwngss has a great write-up here:
http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=162226

I swapped all of the stock aqua gauge LED's (including the 4-pack) to blue and a few indicator LED's to different colors. The needles are soon to be all white. I had a plan to make the needles glow in the dark when off and white when on, but the glow in the dark 'daytime' color is a bland off-white, whereas I want a pure white color, so I gave up on the glow in the dark idea after trying a few variations.
I also covered up the red inner rings on the faces with blue vinyl so as to darken them at night and look better during the day.
All of this looks great! Once I finish the needles then all I have to do is button it back up then I can take finished pics. It looks real nice to me now, especially with the main surround that I Plasti-Dipped into a real nice satin black textured finish.

Here's what I've snapped so far:





Stock aqua LED (through my microscope):



Blue LED:


Last edited by ALLTRBO; 03-25-2012 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:28 PM   #6
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I think I'm turning my car into an LS! lulz... I went from 20's to 18's, deleted the rear SS emblem, and my spoiler is missing at the moment.

I have a few more half-decent pics to post.

Pics 1 & 2:
I'm not done with the wheels, I'm plasti-dipping them so that everything will be black except the machined face, and I need to make blue Chevy bowties for the center caps (which used to say "Miro"). I also need to apply a healthy dose of Forever Black Tire Gel to the tires, brown tires look like poop (literally?) on a black car.

Pic 3:
Nice view of the 295's in the front. The front bowtie is off for the black and blue treatment that the rear one just got.

Pic 4:
The first "mod" I actually did, a blue LED dome light. Looks very cool in person!

Pic 5:
New cluster colors. I think the white needles turned out well. For now I took the blue inner ring-covers that I made off of the red rings for reasons I don 't have time to explain right now (lets just say that I'm looking to buy a new cluster. ) so the red stays for now, but will go away soon.
The colors look perfectly uniform in person, this camera has a way of distorting lights. The numbers are also the exact same blue as the halos, but they appear lighter here.

Pic 6:
I changed the colors of the indicator lights that are lit up. I never understood why the headlights were green and the cruise control was white so I switched those colors (with new LED's). The TC-off and stability-control-off lights are GOOD things! They should be blue, not "warning orange"! Now they are.

Pic 7:
Daytime pic. I also plasti-dipped the bezel, MUCH better to my eyes. I gave it a slightly rough texture to match better with other interior pieces. It's hard to tell from this pic, though.

Pic 8:
A preview of more things to come.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:31 PM   #7
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The interior lights are AMAZING!!!
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Old 04-05-2012, 07:01 PM   #8
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I agree. Thanks!

I just got my windows tinted, but only 50%. Stock windows are 70% (as noted on the side windows themselves), and 50% on top of it makes it 35%, the legal limit in MD (side and rear both). Better than nothing!
Will get pics once they fully dry.
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:13 AM   #9
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If i didn't originally say that I knew this would be a slow process, I meant to. Health problems and work get in the way. That being said, here almost a year and a half later, I have plenty of updates.

I just couldn't get used to the look of the 18's on this car (even with plenty of tire dressing). They look great on the BMW's they came on, but those have shorter sidewalls and they're smaller cars. Aesthetically, they just don't work well here. :/
So, back to more wheel searching. It took a little while, but Verde came along and hit the nail on my head with the Parallax. They are only slightly lighter than the stock 20's (though wider) which is much heavier than the 18's, but I can't afford the $6k wheels I really want, and these look just about perfect, so I've gotta deal with it. I went back to 20's for several reasons, most of which was that I just didn't like the steering feel with the tall sidewalls, and I want to keep a near stock diameter so that was necessary with 18's.

These are 20x10 all around, +30mm offset. I also added a personalized touch to the centercaps. I got these wheels from bestwheeldeals, I highly recommend! I bought the tires separately and mounted and balanced them myself using the auto tech center's machines at work.
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:24 AM   #10
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The tires are Falken Azenis FK453 which is a new model, 295/40/20 rear and 275/40/20 front. Nitto didn't have the NT05's in both of these sizes so I went with these. They aren't as sticky in the dry, but closer than I'd have thought, and they're stickier in the wet. The steering feel improved for sure with the shorter sidewalls.

I would have gone with 295/40 all the way around but that wouldn't fit in the front, and I didn't want to lose the width in the rear. So, unfortunately I gained back some understeer for now, though it isn't nearly as bad as stock. Will get to that (and more) later...
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Old 08-25-2013, 02:07 PM   #11
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how hard was it to change the leds in the spedo?
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Old 08-25-2013, 02:42 PM   #12
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Not hard. Go to the thread I linked above to find out more.

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Old 08-25-2013, 07:20 PM   #13
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Now we're getting somewhere...
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:54 PM   #14
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The blue is 3M 1080 series vinyl wrap. It's the very same stuff that I've been adding to the bits and pieces of the car.
The plan is to have the whole car done this fall (I'm doing it outside and by myself), but it's just the roof, hood, and trunk for now. It looks intentional with only those three parts done.
I also blacked out the taillight surrounds.

For a while I had the stock spoiler off and had done the whole trunk in blue, but it was taking me so long to get the new spoiler painted (for various reasons) that I decided to put the stock spoiler back on temporarily and cut off the vinyl below the spoiler in back. It looked much cleaner that way.
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:10 PM   #15
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More to show later, time for bed now. I've got a very busy week ahead.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:31 AM   #16
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Wow! Pretty cool stuff there. Looking good too! I'll stay tuned for more here.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:10 AM   #17
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Thanks Ruby!

You may have seen my car at the Fest this year, but there was more to it than I've shown in this thread so far. Maybe not though, I had to miss Saturday, and there were (literally) tons and tons of Camaros there!
I'll post up more updates when I get a chance.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:56 PM   #18
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So I've been looking for the right style hood since well before I got the car, but no one made what I envisioned.
One day long ago I noticed that LG Motorsports had a Corvette hood that was similar to what I wanted. I emailed them and asked if they were planning on doing anything similar for the Camaro. They said that they were developing several Camaro body parts, and they'd like to see if there was any interest in the hood idea that I had, as I said I'd start a thread about it here. There was certainly interest, but not overwhelming.

Long story short, I doubt I actually had much to do with it, but many months later, they were beginning to produce just what I had been looking for! This is essentially a ZL1 replica with twice as many vents and a slightly different contour for the vent 'blades'.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:25 PM   #19
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This is not an inexpensive hood by any means, but it is perfect for my car!
Well... except for one thing. I'm very disappointed in the lack of a water tray, because they say it isn't necessary. I disagree. While the engine bay certainly is designed to withstand water, it isn't designed to have it poured on and through in mass quantities every time it rains hard (not an unheard of event here). Over the long term, corrosion will take over and eat things much faster than it would otherwise. There is a reason the ZL1 and now the SS and Z/28 have water trays under their vents. GM wouldn't put them there if they weren't necessary as they don't like to spend any money that they don't have to. Since my car isn't a garage queen, I'm building a water tray for it (more on that when it's done).
Anyway, I digress...

It has an outer and inner layer, like most hoods, but the outer layer is (real) carbon fiber and the inner is fiberglass to save cost (they make one that's full CF but I don't need or want that, and a race version that is a bare-bones one layer deal). I hate to spoil the fun for those who like the CF look, but I don't. I'd have bought a full fiberglass one if they had made it.

It took them forever to ship it once I paid for it so I missed the last good chance I had last fall to install and vinyl wrap it before winter. Automotive vinyl gets very difficult to work with in the cold. So, I figured it would be a good idea to vinyl wrap it indoors where it was warm then install it afterwards so I didn't have to wait until spring. It was a disaster. It turns out that it is MUCH more difficult to wrap a large part that isn't held securely in place by anything solid (if you've done this, you know what I mean), so I waited until spring. I pulled off all the messed up vinyl except for the center section, I had cut that out and left it so it would keep the water out temporarily. Here it is at that point. It almost looks kind of cool like that, but it's not for me...
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:37 PM   #20
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Here it is in its full naked trim, ready to be re-wrapped. Last ever pics of the full CF hood, so enjoy.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:40 PM   #21
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Here it is fully wrapped without the vents cut out:
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:51 PM   #22
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Some while later, I was ready to cut the vents out. However, the channel running around the vents (mimicking the ZL1 insert) didn't hold the vinyl well and it bridged that gap in some locations, so I decided to cut out the center section and redo it. I cut along the middle of the channel and relieved the vinyl on the outside with the heat gun then laid it into the channel. Since it was the reverse of the previous temporary scheme, I took some more pics. Here it was then:
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:07 PM   #23
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I re-wrapped the inner section (again) and laid it into the channel then cut it with a slight overlap of the outer section. This relieved all the stress from the channel area, and now it won't bridge the gap anymore. If I had it to do all over, I'd probably just fill in the channel with epoxy or resin or something then not have to worry about it. I actually don't want it there anyway. Oh well, it's all good.

Now, the rest up to the present happened very quickly because I was about to head to Camaro5Fest for the first time! I was very, very busy during this time also because there was a lot going on at work and at home other than the car. So, there aren't too many detailed pics of the process, but I'll post what I have.
Here's the hood with the vents cut out and with the CF exposed. As I mentioned, I don't like CF so it wasn't going to stay like that. Almost there, though!
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:46 PM   #24
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Now here's the final product... well, not quite. It would be final but I had a very short amount of time to prep and apply the plasti-dip so it's not nearly as neat, even, or satin-y as it will be when I get time to redo it. Plasti-dip has different looks based on the technique used to apply it. This one is called "I'm in a hurry and don't like carbon fiber", also known as "quick job flat black primer wanna-be" as well as "anti-skid". The one it is supposed to look like is just called "evenly applied satin black". We'll get there next go 'round... I should name this hood "Deja vu".
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:56 PM   #25
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That's all the time I have for tonight. More updates when I get a chance, stay tuned!
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