A Hell-Spawned 330-Horsepower Speed Demon

By Jeff Bartlett
Motor Trend Magazine, February 1997 Issue. All Rights Reserved Petersen Publishing Company

Horsepower-obsessed SLP engineers have made an unholy pact with Chevrolet to concoct a witch's brew of Camaro performance that only 100 fortunate souls will be privileged to own. The revered Corvette LT4 engine, the finest ingredients from SLP Engineering parts bins, and the street-proven SS moniker have been stirred in a bubbling caldron to produce a special anniversary edition that should capture the interest of enthusiasts for generations.

Power and prestige for these extreme street-dominating Camaros come from replacing the standard muscular LT1 V-8 engine with even more firepower: the C4 Corvette's LT4. While official output figures rate the Camaro-fitted engine at 330 horses, that figure likely is conservative for the balanced-and-blueprinted powerplant, even before factoring in the forced-air induction system, ported exhaust manifolds, and the free-flowing stainless steel exhaust system.

The SS LT4 features the full round of go-fast equipment available on the milder SS, plus a few spellbinding original pieces. The most notable change on all '97 SS models is the softened suspension, addressing the coccyx-bruising tautness of previous models. The SS LT4 further benefits from the revised Level II suspension package featuring specially tuned Bilstein shocks, progressive-rate springs, and revised rear lower control arms.

Body type: 2-door, 4-passenger
Drivetrain: Front engine, rear wheel drive
Engine: 90 degree 5.7-liter
V-8, OHV, 2 valves/cylinder
Horsepower, hp @ rpm: 330 @ 5800
Torque, lb-ft @ rpm: 340 @ 4500
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase, in./mm: 101.1/2568
Base curb weight, lb: 3560 (est.)
Brakes: Vented disks/disks, ABS
Acceleration, 0-60 mph, sec: 4.9
Quarter mile, sec/mph: 13.2/108.8
Braking, 60-0 mph, ft: 106
Slalom, 600-ft, mph: 65.8
Skidpad, 200-ft, lateral g: 0.92
Base price: $24,199
Price as tested: $35,000 (est.)

Despite a reasonably compliant ride around town, this ferocious F-body produces a denture-dislodging 0.92 g on the skidpad. Nonetheless, the 65.8-mph slalom time revealed a handling trade-off that sacrificed 0.8 mph from the performance of the last SS we tested.

With 330-plus horsepower on tap, a high-rpm clutch drop produces a volcanic plume of tire smoke and yards of granulated asphalt. Manhandling the leather-wrapped Hurst shifter through the gears with copious amounts of carefully modulated throttle netted a blistering 13.2 seconds at 108.8 mph. The SS LT4's 4.9-second 0-60-mph time trounces both the Z28 SS' 5.3-second run and the Mustang Cobra's 5.5-second best. Yes, the SS LT4 can rightfully lay claim to being the reigning ponycar champ.