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Hennessey Unleashes the First Blown 2010 Camaro

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Automotive lust in America means blown Camaros. You know, like the red '69s on every cover of Car Craft. A big BDS 10-71 supercharger sticking through the hood and massive M/T drag slicks under tubs in back. Let the rest of the world dream of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and dinky little British two-seaters. In this country speed doesn't look like that.

It looks like this.

This is the Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) "HPE550" supercharged 2010 Camaro SS. That's right, it's a blown Camaro. The first blown 2010 Chevy Camaro. And that makes it the very newest version of a true American icon. Ranks right up there with the Beach Boys, buckets of deep fried chicken and our incomprehensible Internal Revenue Code.

Be proud of it. We Americans invented the greatest car ever: The loud, tire-smoking, V8-powered, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive muscle machine. And we should celebrate the accomplishment just as John Hennessey is, by building more.

Badass to the Bone

While we're at it, let's throw a shout-out to the original Camaro tuners of the world. Fire up the Google and check out the accomplishments of Don Yenko, Joel Rosen (Motion), Dana, Nickey and Berger, because you can't throw gears in this orange monster and not feel their legend.

HPE's owner, John Hennessey, feels it. He even paid homage to Supercar Camaros of the past with the HPE550's Yenko-like graphics which really tie the car even more to the 1969 Camaro, as if it needed any more help in that direction.

Still, this 2010 Hennessey Camaro SS has a sinister, planted-to-the-pavement look no Yenko ever did. Dropped more than an inch in front and a little less than an inch in back, the HPE550 rolls on oversize two-piece HPE wheels fitted with 275/40R20 front and massive 315/25R20 rear Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires. Think about that for a second; Hennessey put the stock Camaro's massive rear tires on the front and then bolted even wider meats out back. The result is the kind of visual impact that usually only comes when someone actually whacks your eyeball with a hammer.

Matching those looks is a glorious voice derived from a mix of subtle supercharger whine and the bold growl of a Corsa stainless-steel cat-back exhaust system. Combine the visual and the aural and the HPE550 Camaro attracts much more attention than any modern Mustang demands. Cruise it past a cemetery and the dead rise to get a better look.

But zombie appeal is only one limited aspect of a car. The best part of the HPE550 is how wicked quick it is.

Under the Hood

The 6 pounds of boost heaving into the 6.2-liter LS3 are enough to swell output from the stock 426 horsepower at the crank to a monstrous 562 hp, according to Mr. Hennessey. On the Dynojet chassis dyno at MD Automotive, however, the HPE550 ripped the rollers to the tune of 559 hp at the wheels.

Discounting the fact that it was running an eye-watering mix of 91-octane California gas, 93-octane Texas gas, 110-octane race fuel, nitromethane, uranium-238 and a distillate of the Ebola virus, that's still a simply staggering 702 hp at the crank if one assumes a 20 percent parasitic drivetrain loss (a more plausible 639 hp if you assume a 12 percent parasitic drain).

Tuned to run solely on lousy Cal-spec 91-octane swill, what's the blown LS3 going to generate at its rear tires? We don't know. Hennessey says 530 hp, which sounds plausible and is still a huge number if it's true.

Incredibly the Magnuson supercharger, high-flow fuel injectors and that Corsa exhaust are the only aftermarket hardware on the powertrain. Hennessey, of course, also recalibrated the engine management system, but the pushrod LS3 V8 is untouched internally, and that's impressive.

At the Drag Strip

Give Obama a ride around the block in this beast and he might rethink that whole CAFE thing. From inside the 2010 HPE550 Camaro SS you can hear the blower sucking in atmosphere through the Hennessey cold air intake, and every one of those ponies rocks the car if you rev the engine at a red light. Cool old-school muscle-car stuff.

The stock Camaro shifter takes a real shove to get into 1st, but the clutch effort isn't too onerous. Let the clutch out, stab the throttle, and the HPE550 pins your head to the seat and keeps it there. Just looking down at the Autometer boost gauge, which is bolted to the steering column, strains your neck muscles until it's time to shift. And then you've only got a split second to relax before the g-load returns and forces your entire body in the Camaro's very red bucket seat.

This Camaro's pull is just as violent in 2nd and 3rd gear. By the time you've found 4th and your breath, you've left nearly anything shy of a Viper or ZR1 in the dust.

At our test track, the blast from zero to 60 mph took a deliriously brief 4.3 seconds (4.0 seconds with 1 foot of roll out like on a drag strip) and the quarter-mile blurs by in just 12.1 seconds at 120.1 mph. It's an absolutely scalding performance and it's a full four-tenths quicker to 60 than a stock Camaro SS and nearly a full second quicker in the quarter-mile. Most impressively, that 120.1-mph trap speed is 9.2 mph faster than stock. Zounds upon zounds, this thing is rapid.

It's also a bit rabid.

Uncivil Liberties

Never once in all those issues of Car Craft did anyone claim that blown Camaros were civilized, easygoing or tame. And the HPE550 carries on that tradition.

This is a hot rod and no one expects (or at least no one should expect) a hot rod to be as well-behaved as a production car. The Hennessey car has ungodly amounts of power, but it also loses some of the linearity in its throttle application. Hitting its accelerator is like throwing a switch. Even with careful modulation (very careful) this car is tough to drive.

There are other aftermarket turbo and supercharger systems that are much worse in this respect than the Hennessey/Magnuson system used in the HPE550. But during hard acceleration it's nearly impossible to keep the motor from revving raggedly into its limiter. That's simply something that never happens with supercharged production motors like the Corvette ZR1's LS9 or the 5.4-liter in Shelby's GT500.

Bad Suspension

But the HPE550's roughest edges are in its suspension. The thick rubber adds a lot of effort to the steering with no commensurate return in precision or feedback. And those massive 315-millimeter-wide rear meats overfill the wheelwells so that scraping is heard during even modest cornering.

Living with the big tires is one thing, but the stiff coil-over springs and shock are something else. It's not so much that the ride is unbearable as it is that the springs aren't matched up well with the shocks. So it's over-sprung and under-damped; the car doesn't settle after a bump or recover easily after a hard corner and it gets sloppy during quick transitions.

Plus, its 0.87g skid-pad orbit and 68.7-mph slalom speeds are no better than stock (the stock Camaro SS pulled 0.88g on the pad and slalomed at 68.6 mph), so what's the point? This car should do better considering its cost and huge contact patches.

Since the HPE550 runs standard Camaro SS brakes (including the Brembo four-piston front calipers), we expected them to work, and they do. It stopped from 60 mph in 109 feet just like the stock Camaro. But a bit of suspension tuning would also improve this performance if the car was more settled and better able to exploit its additional rubber.


John Hennessey will sell a car just like the one featured here — including the blower, the suspension, the wheels, the tires and all the graphics — for $62,500. Or go without the polished blower case and the Chevy RS factory equipment and the price drops to $59,950. Or bring your own 2010 Camaro SS to Hennessey in Houston and $24,950 later you'll have a full-blown HPE550.

Just want the parts? That's $18,950 — you do the installation. That's not far from what Ford gets for a new supercharged 2010 Shelby GT500. And Hennessey warranties its work and/or parts for three years or 36,000 miles.

Sure, it's disappointing that the HPE550's supercharger is so small there's no need to cut a big hole in the Camaro's hood, but we got over it. When? Every time we planted our right foot into that big ol' blown V8 and it nearly snapped our freakin' heads off.

This sucker rocks. And it rocks American style. Let the rest of the world dream of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and dinky little British two-seaters. In this country, speed doesn't look like that.

It looks like this.











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That thing could singlehandedly take out all the oxygen in the atmosphere AND melt the Arctic.

I love it! The engine sounds beautiful. :wub:

Edited by Captainbooyah

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I love it! The engine sounds beautiful. :wub:


I could listen to that all day long.

I thought in the midst of all teh doom and gloom, nothing like a glowing article and teh sound of a blown V8 to cheer everyone up. :CG_all:

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So it's a car for the drag strip and not much more?

I'd certainly own something like this if I won the lottery, but $62k buys a lot of car. Not sure I could spend it on a Camaro.

Sweet car, and like I said, if I won the lottery (or was super rich), I'd buy one, but I can't see myself driving such a car daily. If I'm spending $62k on a car, it better be daily driveable, at least in good weather.

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I would get the engine mods and maybe the interior/exterior mods (minus the windshield decal), but leave the suspension stock SS.

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Still an awesome car though.

About time the Camaro tuners started putting something in the face of the Shelby boys.


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