The Gen 4 Camaro Z28 stands out in the Nashville Airport parking garage. For one thing, it’s a gleaming, bright red pony car in a sea of grey and black crossovers and mid-range sedans. For another, it’s full of Borowski-based power and performance in the engine bay, perfect for a ride to Bowling Green, Kentucky and LS Fest 2018.
Joe McCaul, President and CEO of Borowski Race Engines, starts up the car and the big, purry rumble quickly announces that any ride in this Camaro is going to involve a little more zip than factory standard. Maybe not the amount of zip it’s capable of as a road and drag race competitor, but certainly plenty for a sunny Friday morning jaunt across state lines.
Borowski’s new CNC machine set the stage for this project, providing the ability to port the cylinder heads specifically for this stock engine, which then allowed the installation of a new cam, intake manifold and throttle body.
The result? A factory engine capable of multi-purpose competition in road and drag racing.
Inspiration for the Camaro actually came about following the loss of another Borowski showpiece: a Chevy El Camino with a 1000hp engine that had toured the country, and then was stolen from outside a hotel in Charlotte.
“We had the El Camino to showcase what we could do,” explains McCaul. “We’d step up the engine every few years. We drove it everywhere.”
But with that loss also came inspiration, and the hand of fate. A Borowski customer had recently purchased a Corvette and had a Gen 4 Camaro with a frame stiffening kit installed that was now just languishing around, waiting for someone to come put it through its paces.
McCaul knew his Borowski team was right for the job. Not only did the Camaro have tons of untapped potential, it was a popular model with folks wanting to have a little fun. With the right mods, it could be more than a little fun. Borowski had just purchased a 5 axis machine for it’s high end customized engines, but the machine also did CNC custom porting. This mean the ability to bore custom cylinder heads for an LS engine which would allow for more power.
The ported heads were the gateway drug to more power and more fun. “The first time we road raced the Camaro, there were no brake or tire mods, just the ported heads. I pushed a little hard on a hairpin turn, spun out, tore out some grass, but it showed us the next obvious parts of the upgrade.”
Cadillac CTSV brakes are a common mod for the Gen V, and the big brakes went on along new DOT-4 brake fluid and bigger wheels to accommodate the increased oomph. What started as a fun way to make more power was rapidly turning into a turnkey package of parts that could make OTHER Gen 4’s faster, as well, without having to do a complete engine rebuild.
“Lots of people with the Gen 4 Camaro can get them to go really fast,” says McCaul. “It’s a perfect test mule, so we decided to not only make it faster, but to do a test package where everything is bolt on. The engine isn’t coming out. You unbolt the top. While the top is off, mods can get you where you want to go.”
Once the brakes were on, they dynoed the car. After measuring the horsepower at the rear wheels, they swapped out the standard cam, intake manifold and throttle body for a COMP cam, FAST intake manifold & throttle body.
They took it back to Gingerman Raceway in Michigan to test it again. A Wilwood proportioning valve was added to compensate for some nosing down due to the Caddy brakes, which helps redistribute the braking power. Another trip to the dyno had the car at 357 hp (a 39 hp jump), but also found that it was choking on the factory exhaust. One Hooker True Dual exhaust system and some DeatschWerks injectors later and the Camaro was up to 410 hp.
“People want to run 12s at the track,” says McCaul. “410 hp will get you there.”
The package of upgrades from Borowski is a way to get the expertise and the power for street and strip without the investment in a custom built engine. “We send the whole package to owner’s local shop,” says McCaul. “Every part they need. To do the whole thing, you mostly need two guys and one day. It’s in and out quickly, it’s still a daily driver, the mods don’t kill the gas mileage, and everyone is happy.”
Andreanna Ditton is the Content Manager for MotorHead Media and the Editor-in-Chief for RacingJunk.com/news. She's been working in the automotive publishing industry since 2007 focusing on racing and performance for motorcycles and cars.