With the Camaro being a popular project car (and for good reason), Valenciano decided he wanted to find a way to make his stand out. He decided the LT5 was one way to do so.
“I have had muscle cars before, a number of Corvettes, including a C5 Z06,” he told us. “With this, I wanted to have a combination of power and reliability.”
It’s not just reliability and performance that Valenciano is after though. He’s also looking for something over the top and uniquely his, but with similar power to today’s supercars. The LT5 powers the Corvette ZR1 after all. Plus, with this build he’ll be one of the earliest adopters of the new engine, but he can also still abide by the “built, not bought” ethos.
“This one will be my own, built with my own blood, sweat, and tears, with my own hands, in my own garage,” he said.
Valenciano, who hails from Denver and works in the software industry as a Sr. Cloud Engineer by day, has always been into cars. His passion for the hobby began in high school when he and his friends all drove muscle cars. The ’69 Camaro was a style he always liked.
He ultimately ended up buying his own, and over the years his collection has included a ’55 Chevy (his dad owned ’54 and ’56 models) long- and short-bed ’71 GMC pickups, a ’74 K5 Blazer and three different Corvettes: a C5 convertible, a ’98 coupe and the aforementioned 2003 Z06. The short-bed ’71 GMC and the ’55 Chevy are still in his collection, among other collector cars, and his daily driver is a Chevy Tahoe.
The Camaro, however, has stood the test of time and always been special.
“I actually just kind of came across it one day on Craigslist, literally blocks from my house,” he said. “I went and looked at it. It was originally a V-6 car, I drove it home and then just started taking it apart.”
It went through one initial round of modifications, but then life happened.
“It sat for 10 years,” Valenciano said, laughing. “Then I decided I needed to start on it and get it going again.”
Valenciano began the build in earnest once more last November, beginning to order parts and prep the car for a QUADRALink rear suspension from Detroit Speed. He decided to upgrade the subframe as well. All of this just happened to take place around the time the LT5 was unveiled by Chevrolet Performance. This gave Valenciano one more, not so common engine option.
“I was thinking of going with the LT4, that way I get the extra performance with all the dependability,” he said. “ [But] The LT5 had just come out … really the biggest thing was I wanted to have something that was different. Because everybody’s done everything to these Camaros already, right? So, I was like okay, I’m just going to bite the bullet and go with the LT5. Ideally, I wanted to have something that was unique. If I went with the LT5, my Camaro would definitely be unique, at least until the next biggest thing arrives.”
The Bowtie calls the engine “the pinnacle of Chevrolet Performance.” In addition to its 755 horsepower, the 6.2L engine makes 715 lb-ft of torque and utilizes a 2.65-liter supercharger.
Camshaft phasing and direct injection also help make the most out of what forced induction can offer. In addition, the LT5 features a dual-fuel system utilizing eight port-style injectors to complement the engine’s standard direct-injection system. If you’re counting, that means there are 16 total injectors at work in the V-8. The auxiliary port injectors support the direct-injection system under heavier fuel loads, such as wide-open throttle.
Other performance features include the largest throttle body ever on an LS or LT engine, an electronically controlled bypass for the supercharger and specific heavy-duty rod and main bearings.
Thus far, Valenciano has installed the power plant once to determine fitment in the engine compartment. Aside from having to massage the firewall a bit to make more room for the mechanical fuel pump at the rear of the engine, the LT5 fits the Detroit Speed sub-frame “like a glove” in his words. During this time he also test fit the headers, which worked without a hitch.
Now he is determining how much of the tunnel needs to be cut out in order for the bellhousing and transmission to go in, something that will need to be finalized once the engine is mounted. Meanwhile, during the next test fit he’ll install the flywheel, clutch and hydraulic throwout bearing. After that, he’ll decide on the mounting location for the external oil tank assembly, then determine which components he will use for the radiator, supercharger heat exchanger and accessory drive, power steering and A/C components.
Since Valenciano does not have automated plasma tools for fabrication, using the same oil tank that comes with the ZR1 offers him a plug-and-play solution. All he has to do as a result is make and run feed and return lines, along with PCV lines, from the tank to the valve covers. Car guys always find a solution.
The project will be completed over the next few months, with The BLOCK tracking its progress on the website and Instagram @theblockdotcom.
Valenciano is excited to complete the project and put the LT5 to use when he finally gets to have some fun.
“I’ve had other high-performance cars, and the whole goal of this Camaro was to make it as track-worthy as possible and have all of the horsepower that I could use,” he said.
That sounds like a perfect goal.
*Because of its effect on a vehicle’s emissions performance, this engine is intended exclusively for use in competition vehicles. This engine is designed and intended for use in vehicles operated exclusively for competition: in racing or organized competition on courses separate from public streets or highways. Installation or use of this engine on a vehicle operated on public streets or highways is likely to violate U.S., Canadian, and state and provincial laws and regulations related to motor vehicle emissions.