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Old 11-10-2015, 02:56 PM   #1
Mr. Wyndham
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Z/21LE Build...Whut?!

You can follow my original build thread here: http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=179260

The story started with Lazarus, the #214 ZL1 to come out of Oshawa...and then Argenteus, and 2014 SS/1LE was born in October of 2013...I've always been about the on-track performance of a car: road courses, mind you. I never cared too much about the hero times, though, my focus was directed towards the feel and "fun-factor". Ever since I got the 1LE, I was extremely happy with my "downgrade", but I've had an itch to take it a step further.

Chevrolet and Team Camaro made that itch awful hard to ignore when they began to introduce Chevrolet performance parts pulled right off of the mighty Z/28, and ZL1. How could I resist?

So I made some calls and learned some things about the parts that were available, and becoming available. With the aid of Mark Dickens, Jamie Meyer, and Angela Brown from Chevrolet and the entire team at Justice Pete Superior Solution, I was able to coordinate and schedule the Herculean task of installing almost all of the Z/28 performance accessories onto a 2014 1LE in 3 days, right before the 2015 Camaro Fest in Bowling Green.

I like to joke that the monster we created is called a Z21LE. What we did was take a balanced approach and installed as many Z/28 components as I had a budget for that would compliment one another without making the car too fast for the brakes, or too soft in suspension for the power, etc. The 1LE is perfectly balanced, and I wanted to take that to the next level. The best way I can describe the result on the road and on the track is that the car feels as thought it’s been armored and armed. It’s gone from being an honest engineering masterpiece to a precision weapon of speed and handling. As great as the 1LE was in stock form, these parts have taken the car to a new level of performance and driving feel. If equipped with the proper tires, I am confident that this car could keep up with a Z/28 around a track.

You will notice that I use the term “upgraded” a lot. Typically, aftermarket components are not all made equal…not to say that some companies don’t put out good stuff. But there’s no uniform standards….no equivalent in the aftermarket industry to GM’s quality testing. For this reason and others, most people refer to installing aftermarket parts on their cars as “modifying”. This is a safe tern to use, because without extensive research, that what you’re doing to your car may or may not actually improve it. In the case of the Z/28 components, each is designed to increase some performance metric of the Camaro platform. They are, quite literally, an upgrade.

Below you’ll find a list of components that were installed on the car, with part numbers, and a relative gauge of installation difficulty. Since these were packaged in the form of kits, Chevrolet made it easy to make sure you have what you need to get the whole job done without missing a screw or some goofy thing.

Z/28 Suspension Kit with DSSV® Dampers (P/N 23464729)
Ease of Install: Difficult

LS3 LS3 Power Upgrade Kit – Deluxe (P/N 19301990)
Ease of Install: Difficult (recommend professional install)

Z/28 Rear Differential Module Cooler Kit (P/N 23216684)
Ease of Install: Moderate

Z/28 Air Intake (P/N 23454578)
Ease of Install: Easy

Z/28 Brake Ducts (P/N 23252398)
Ease of Install: Easy

Z/28 Upper Grille (P/N 23197349)
Ease of Install: Easy (but aggravating)

Z/28 Aero Components Kit (P/N 23489551)
Ease of Install: Moderate

Each of these parts/kits can be installed by a Do-it-Yourselfer. Furthermore, they are all genuine GM components originally designed for the Camaro…which means that they were designed with a high level of quality to fit without a fuss. This was extremely important to me.

We enlisted the help of JPSS technicians and facilities to perform this installation, because I wanted to have as hands-on an experience as I could, and being friends with the boss helps. However, you can purchase all of these parts from and have them installed at a Chevrolet dealer. They are genuine parts, with catalog part numbers. And some of the components do not affect the vehicle’s warranty, either.

The installation began with the suspension components. Given the hands-all-over-the-car nature of the project, we felt it would be wise to get the underside stuff done first, so the car would at least be able to be rolled around should something go wrong with the engine work. In concept – the suspension upgrade is simple: take the old parts off and put the new ones on. The kit comes shipped with everything you need to swap the SS components for Z/28 parts. It’s important to note that in some cases, such as mine, not all of the new parts that are shipped are necessary because they’re already there by virtue of being a 1LE, like the toe links. However, we installed everything per the instructions, and it took about 5 hours with 2.5 technicians working on the car. It’s very helpful that the struts (front and rear) come preassembled.

While we were under the car, we took the opportunity to install SLP's Skip Shift Eliminator, and spot-treat the undercarriage to take care of some pesky surface rust that was forming thanks to our annoying winters here in Buffalo. (Yes, this car gets driven year round)

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Old 11-10-2015, 02:56 PM   #2
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After the car got aligned, we put it back on the lift, and took the front fascia off, which was being replaced with a non-RS SS front fascia (I couldn’t stand the chrome “mustache”, so this move got rid of it without leaving holes in the panel). While the fascia was off, we installed the brake ducts. This was probably one of the easier parts of the build. The kit, again, comes with everything you need to install these brake ducts on an SS, and the car was designed to accept these parts from the factory.

1) First you need to install the air dam mounting brackets, using the pre-molded holes that Chevy so thoughtfully included in every 2014+ SS.

2) Then, you need to trim away the edges of the radiator air dam to allow for these new brackets. Follow the instructions, they allow for some overlap in case you’re not so great with a pair of snips. We used a Dremel tool to clean up the edges.

3) Attach the brake ducts to the brackets using the supplied fasteners.

4) Once secured, the radiator air dam and then the fascia can go back on the car. It helps if you have a partner to do this – one to hold the fascia up, and one to guide the brake ducts through the maze of reservoirs and other components.

5) Secure the front fascia back in place.

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Old 11-10-2015, 02:57 PM   #3
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Next up was the LS3 Heads/Cam Power Upgrade Package. This is a difficult procedure that I’m not even going to try and explain…take a peek at something like GM High Tech Performance for a step-by-step. This is like any other heads and cam swap. I will mention that there are two similar LS3 Power Upgrade kits. You’ll want the “deluxe” kit if you do this, because the basic one does not include all the necessary gaskets, bolts, plugs, and cam sprocket. (Get this right, and it’ll save you a 2-hour drive across state lines…). Finally, you need to know that there is a recalibration available through your Chevrolet dealer for this kit to raise the rev limited and adjust some emissions settings. The information they need to find this tune is right on the front page of the instructions packet for the upgrade kit.

As part of the internals upgrade, we installed the Z/28 air induction system. This was also pretty easy to do.

1) Loosen the band clamp on the old intake until the intake tube can come off the throttle body freely.
2) Remove the electrical connector for the MAF.
3) Remove the EGR tube
4) Loosen the nuts that hold the intake box into the engine bay.
5) On the new intake, assemble the intake tube and the open “box”. Please remove the red cap that closes off the filter opening, and protects the inside from catching any debris. Tighten the band clamp, but be careful not to over-tighten it, as it could crush the plastic/rubber.
6) Put a strip of the supplied foam (NOT THE RUBBER SEAL) onto the bottom edge of the intake box by uncovering the adhesive tape. This foam will prevent any rattles. You will have to cut to length.
7) Install the intake the same way you remove the old one, in reverse.
8) Install the rubber box-to-hood seal/gasket around the top edge of the intake box.
9) Test-fit, and cut to length a piece of supplied fuel line from the EGR opening on the intake tube, to the “clean side” EGR barb just above the passenger-side valve cover. We plumbed our tube under the throttle body so it wouldn’t move around or get eaten by the serpentine belt pulleys.
10) Reconnect the MAF to the harness.

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Old 11-10-2015, 02:57 PM   #4
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Then, the car was put back up in the air, and the differential cooler was installed. This upgrade was easy at first…The cooler is integrated into the cover plate of the differential, so all you really need to do there is take the old one off and put the new one on. The kit includes a new gasket, as well. Then you need to run the cooler lines to the transmission. All of the fluid line connections are in short quick-connect sections, and the differential cover, and transmission case is already designed to accept these connections The lines running from the transmission to the radiator were the toughest part, since it required some wiggling and finagling around existing parts.

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Old 11-10-2015, 03:17 PM   #5
Mr. Wyndham
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And finally our last upgrade was the Z/28 Aero Components. Due to some shipping issues, we ended up working on this part of the build in my garage at home. We were working with a plain-jane SS front fascia, so it was fairly easy to remove the fascia, hold the splitter up as a template and drill all the necessary holes for securing the splitter. It’s tricky at first, because actually you need to drill two holes per mounting point, but just be careful and go slow. You only get to drill these holes once…

Once the splitter is on the fascia, you must install the two metal brackets to the bumper bar, that will mate to the splitter was installed on the car. This splitter generates so much downforce, that they needed to reinforce it with these brackets so it'll actually pull the car down, and not just the front fascia, which could result in stress damage over time. The beautiful thing about this car is that they installed bolts in the bumper bar for this purpose. Outside of the front splitter, they really don't do anything...

After the splitter is on, then you can install the gurney flaps along the wheel well liner using three existing holes, and one new one you have to drill.

The rear spoiler was the easiest part of this entire build. Because the car has the ZL1-style spoiler equipped from the factory, putting the Z/28 piece on was as simple as unbolting the old one, and re-bolting the new one right in place. They supply a template in the instructions for drilling holes, though – so I believe if you have a standard SS spoiler, you’ll need to drill new holes in the decklid. Please be aware, chances are high that you are going to find rub marks on your decklid from the old spoiler. Thankfully the panel is aluminum, so there’s no chance of rust, but aluminum does corrode in its own right, and it just looks bad – so be prepared to either use touchup paint, or have the decklid repainted before installing the Z/28 spoiler.

Over the course of the road-trip/upgrade process I appeared to have damaged the inside of the wheel-well liners. So while the front end was up in the air, I took the opportunity to replace my worn SS liners with Z/28 pieces. The only difference is that the Z/28 versions extend the wheel well liner across the front fascia to fully close off that area and mate with the closeout panel beneath the engine (belly pan).

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Old 11-10-2015, 03:46 PM   #6
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The end result is one of the most spectacular track experiences in a Camaro. The DSSV suspension not only helps control the body roll and lateral movement of the car, but when you nail the throttle, the stiffer suspension helps reduce squat under acceleration. What this means to the driver is that acceleration, transitions from left to right, and braking are all better controlled and don’t upset the car as things get faster and more dynamic on the track.

The differential cooler, Z/28 grill, and Z/28 brake ducts provide peace of mind as you throw the car around a track on a hot summers day. Before the upgrade, I did experience brake fade towards the end of a track day with the standard 1LE equipment. Together with a brake fluid replacement…the brake ducts helped to keep the brakes cool. It worth noting that after the car was upgraded, we drove it back to back for 40 minute-long sessions…with only 20 minutes in between each run…those brakes could have gotten HOT!

The power increase is modest…but the biggest difference is the 7000rpm redline that the kit provides. Holy hell…it’s like doubling the useful speed range of the gears. The LS3 power upgrade package pulls, and pulls hard all the way to that 7000 rpm redline.

Then the aero kit gives the car such a crazy aggressive stance. Yet, it’s functional too. The Z/28 spoiler, and front splitter provide hundreds of pounds of down force at speed…and you can feel it. The entire car feels so much more stable the faster you go.

Bottom line is – these parts make the car FUN on the track…more fun than the 1LE is stock. And I believed that to be a hard thing to do. In my particular case, we took an SS and made it more. I highly recommend these performance upgrades; they’ll take your 5th gen to the next level, and they’re all sourced from the same car and engineers who put a Z/28 around the Nurburgring…that’s impressive no matter how you cut it!

To give you some perspective, on the famous Camarocross at Camaro Fest 2015, this car put up times that were mere tenths off of the times of the Z/28s that were in attendance. And it was piloted by a first-time driver, at that! It's just brilliant!

**Unfortunately, by the time we got the Aero components, the summer (black) wheels and tires were swapped for winter equipment...I'll have much more accurate/aggressive-looking photos in the spring when we put the fun
tires back on! **

Any questions feel free to ask - I was excited to do all this as an informational piece.

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Old 11-10-2015, 04:50 PM   #7
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I did a Z/28 grill on mine too and got rid of the dumb chrome strip. I left the holes... LOL. If they bother me I'll consider doing something about them then.

If you take the car to the dealer and show them the damage from the original spoiler they will repaint it for you under warranty. (I went through that too.)

Car looks good. I like it.
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:18 PM   #8
JusticePete
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Damn, that was way more work than I remember!
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:33 PM   #9
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Lovely build so far man. Track oriented, the way to go
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:45 PM   #10
hammdo
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Love it! Great build...

-Don
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Old 11-10-2015, 06:16 PM   #11
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Awesome build however I'm confused why get rid of the ZL1 and "downgrade" to a 1LE?

The ZL1 is a amazing platform to build on, I'm just curious thats all. Ether way good luck with the build, can't wait for more updates.
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Old 11-10-2015, 07:05 PM   #12
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Any numbers on the cam and head package? Would love to find out whats it making with that and the intake.
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:03 PM   #13
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all that & you left the rubber brake lines?!
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mgizzle View Post
Any numbers on the cam and head package? Would love to find out whats it making with that and the intake.
I would like to know this as well. Also, I was wondering why you chose not to run headers? Nice build though!
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