Chevrolet Camaro door panel emblem. 1968 and 1969.
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Working with GM Performance Parts, GM Performance Division, and the leaders of the performance aftermarket, Reggie Jackson is looking to build the ultimate 1969 Camaro. A life-long, high performance Chevrolet collector and fan, Reggie wants to sample the latest in high technology from GM.
To do that, GM will be provided with a pristine 1969 Camaro directly from Reggie's private collection. Trakon Customs with the support of Classic Industries are completing a quick restoration of the car prior to its deliver to GM, and then it will be an intensive seven week transformation.
The heart of this project is the LSX block, designed by GM Performance Parts with input from legendary NHRA Pro Stock champion, Warren "The Professor" Johnson. It will be filled with a rotating assembly from Lunati and pistons from Mahle before being topped off with our own LSX head (similar in design to the now-legendary LS7 head). Cammed up and carbureted, this 454-inch LSX engine will make well over 600 horsepower on pump gas.
While GM Performance Parts provides the drive train, it's up to GM Performance Division to completely modernize the chassis, suspension, braking, and creature comforts of Mr. October's show stopper. The bright red '69 Camaro will come out of the GM Performance Division's garages with a complete ZO6-inspired race suspension and aggressive "Pro Touring" stance. "We expect this car to run 10-second quarter miles and keep pace with a new Corvette around corners."
This project will be covered by Hot Rod TV with scenes as we tour the Jackson Collection; pick up the project Camaro; stop in at Warren Johson's shop so that Reggie can hand assemble his own LSX engine; see the action at GM Performance Division as the car takes shape; and end with a reveal of the car on the famous GM Proving Grounds in Milford, MI.
This show will air before SEMA (likely on ESPN) with several supporting magazine stories to follow. In addition to a SEMA display vehicle, the Reggie Jackson Camaro will also benefit from Reggie's own support as he meets fans, signs autographs, and answers questions about this exciting project.
Inside the LSX from GMPP.
The 454-cubic-inch small-block V-8 in Jackson 's Camaro is based on GMPP's new LSX Bowtie Block cylinder block and other engine components. The cast iron LSX block was designed for the creation of high-horsepower, large-displacement engines based on GM's Gen IV small-block engine architecture. The iron block enables engine builders to use traditional displacement-enlarging techniques to create large-displacement small-block engines of 500 cubic inches or more. The LSX block is also designed with a thick deck and strategic cast-in strengthening features that support high-horsepower supercharged and nitrous-oxide combinations.
Jackson helped build the engine with famed NHRA racer Warren Johnson, who was instrumental in the development of the LSX block. For the Camaro, a simple but effective combination employing a single four-barrel carburetor and carefully matched cylinder head and valvetrain components was employed.
The cylinder heads are prototype LSX heads, which are derived from the LS7 7.0L engine found in the Corvette Z06. They feature six head bolts rather than five, for increased cylinder head sealing - an attribute that builders of supercharged engines will appreciate. Bridging the LSX heads is a new GM Performance Parts four-barrel intake manifold designed to match the rectangular ports of the LS7 head. The manifold is already available from GMPP, allowing customers to run a carburetor on LS7 crate engines. Atop the manifold is a Holley 850-cfm carburetor.
An ignition driver is all that's required to change from stock-type EFI to carburetion, and Jackson 's engine uses a custom MSD Ignition driver that is designed for GM's Gen III and Gen IV V-8 engines. With the ignition driver connected to the distributorless ignition system, the ignition timing is automatically set at start-up.
The bottom end of the engine uses a Lunati rotating assembly with forged parts and Mahle pistons that combine with the LSX heads to deliver a pump-gas-friendly 11:1 compression ratio. A custom-grind camshaft was sourced and Comp Cams supplied the remainder of the valvetrain components.
At Warren Johnson's dynamometer facility, the LSX engine produced 641 horsepower and 611 lb.-ft. of torque. More than the peak numbers, however, is the engine's Kansas-flat power band. The engine makes 520 lb.-ft. of torque at only 3,000 rpm, with torque rising steadily throughout the rev range.
"The engine makes a mountain of torque at just about any rpm," said Johnson. "The best part is this isn't an exotic combination. It was put together with off-the-shelf parts that either are available now or will be shortly through GM Performance Parts."
In other words, it's a combination that is easily reproduced as the family of LSX parts and engines grows.
To complement the power packed into its 454 cubic inches, the LSX in Jackson 's Camaro was dressed with powder-coated accessories and custom rocker covers. The engine retains a classic look at first glance, but a second look reveals the individual coil packs and other features that identify it as a 21 st-century small-block. Stainless Works fabricated a custom exhaust system, including ceramic-coated headers.
Drivetrain and suspension details by GMPD.
The LSX engine in the Camaro is backed by a beefed-up Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission. It is equipped with a heavy-duty clutch to stand up to the engine's considerable torque, channeling it via a custom aluminum driveshaft to a Detroit Speed & Engineering-built GM 12-bolt rear axle. The axle is fitted with an Eaton Detroit Locker Truetrac locking differential and 3.91 gears, which turn strengthened axles that are connected to 18-inch custom-design Budnik rear wheels and Goodyear high-performance rubber. Matching wheels and tires are found up front.
To give the Camaro the agility and cornering capability enabled by the wide "rolling stock" and spurred on by the 641-horse 454 engine — the engineers at GMPD had to harness the power. To do that, the front and rear suspension were replaced and updated with components from Detroit Speed & Engineering (DSE). Founded by former GM engineers, DSE offers a coil-over-shock front suspension system that replaces the first-generation Camaro's original setup. It includes tubular control arms and Koni monotube shock absorbers. It was adapted to Jackson's Camaro, giving the car the driving reflexes of a modern sports tourer.
At the rear, a DSE 'deep tub' kit is employed. The QUADRA Link rear suspension, with Koni coil-over shocks, allows the mounting of a narrowed rear axle. A narrowed axle was needed to make room for the nearly 12.5-inch-wide rear tires. But even with the ultra-wide rear treads, grip is all too easy to overcome when calling up even a small bit of the LSX engine's deep well of torque.
Matching the modern handling is an aggressive, four-wheel disc brake system from Brembo. It features large, cross-drilled rotors at all four corners, with four-piston calipers in front and four-piston calipers in the rear.
"With the suspension and brake upgrades, this vintage Camaro handles and stops like a new Corvette," said Jackson.
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