When it seems like the entire world has bought into the “LS swap the world” mentality lock-stock-and-barrel, what is one to do when looking to make their own waves throughout the show field? That question becomes even more serious if you’re starting with a vehicle that is already set up for one of GM’s late-model engines.
If you are someone like Scott Miles, you could throw pop culture to the wind and forge your own way with the tried-and-true notion that in the end—size REALLY does matter! Just take one look at Scott’s 2010 Chevrolet Camaro to see what kind of impact an increase in spatial presence will have when used correctly.
History is riddled with wins and records that were penned under the power of Chevrolet’s beastly big-block engines. Chevy vehicles powered by those large-by-huge engines are the darling of collectors and enthusiasts alike. Many enthusiasts swoon at the sight of those wide valve covers when the hood is popped. You could say Scott may have gone a little overboard when stuffing a big-block under the hood of his Camaro. But as you can see, that wouldn’t be totally accurate, as it doesn’t all fit under the hood. And that is just the way Scott likes it.
When Scott’s Camaro left the factory, it was only offered with one of three engines. The high-performance SS trim’s 426-horsepower V8 kept many enthusiasts appeased with a manual transmission, while the direct-injected and active fuel management equivalent was coupled with auto-shifted cars and mustered a family-truckster-friendly 400 horsepower. For those who compare miles with gallons, not hours, Chevy also offered a 3.6L, direct-injected V-6, which is what Scott’s Camaro had when it left the factory over a decade ago.
It would be easy to wrongfully assume that Chevy gave enough engine options to appease just about any Camaro owner, but as you can see, Scott’s creation beats down that conventional wisdom with extreme prejudice. Scott bought the car in January 2022. It was a $2,500 roller, but it was the perfect candidate for what Scott had in mind. He quickly set out at getting the car running, and had it at the Cruisin’ the Coast event in October of that year.
Building A Modern Big-Block Camaro
Scott had the engine laying around for the past three decades from his 1970 C10 truck he had. While it may have enjoyed a little more room in the truck, it still makes quite the statement in this fifth-gen Camaro. Once Scott hits the key, the whine from the supercharger just drives that fact home even further.
Scott describes the build as, “An old-school, mechanical engine and transmission in a computer-controlled car.” Besides the MSD Ignition that lights the fire down deep, there isn’t much else electronically controlling the engine’s operation. Most of the additional wiring is reserved for the oil pressure and coolant sensors.
The lack of electronics doesn’t mean swapping the engine was made any easier. Scott needed to remove the wiper tray and the factory crossmember was modified so that it could be removed to aid in getting the headers in and out. The ECM, as well as the fuse and relay panel for the car, had to be moved back so that the CVF Racing Wraptor belt-drive system would have enough room at the front. The engine is now held in place by a set of front, and mid-mounted motor plates, which can be removed if Scott ever wants to swap an LS-based engine under the hood.
The engine itself is enough to make a Prius owner fall over like a fainting goat. The 468 cubic-inch big-block Chevy engine uses a fully-balanced, steel crankshaft that is wrapped with forged rods and blower pistons set at 8:1 compression. The rectangular-port aluminum heads are held in place by a complete set of studs. Scott trusts them to keep those heads planted when boost rises quicker than the anger level of a “which oil is best” thread in an online forum.
There is a Lunati solid, flat-tappet camshaft (310/320 duration, .558/.566 lift) giving the marching orders and a set of modified Hooker 1969 Camaro headers breathe into a complete 3 1/2-inch exhaust. While the exhaust sounds great, the real magic happens on the other side of the combustion event. Topside, that Dyer’s 8-71 blower and duo of carbs force-feed a bunch of ponies down into the engine.
Scott reports that he started out running E85 through two 850 cfm Proform carbs when he first got the Camaro running. A complete Aeromotive fuel system supplies each carb when it’s feeding time at wide-open-throttle. He reports that the car would see just over 2 1/2 miles to the gallon and had some cooling issues, so he went back and made some changes to the build. He installed a “big, engine oil cooler” and a cross-flow, dual-pass radiator with a set of SPAL fans to help the engine keep its cool. He also swapped the carbs for a pair of Quick Fuel gas carbs and says he’s almost doubled his mileage to five miles per gallon.
Behind the engine now resides an old-school Turbo 400 transmission that has been beefed up to handle all the horsepower Scott’s engine can put out. The reverse-shifted, Coan-built unit houses a 3,200-stall converter as if Scott’s ride needed any help getting off the line. Further down the chain, the 3.27:1-geared, stock V-8 rear end does its best to distribute the power equally between both rear wheels, which is typically far too much for either of them to handle anyway.
Scott says the car now makes around 800 horsepower at just over 9 psi, but a quick swap of pulleys to get 15 pounds of boost should put the car right around 1,000 horsepower. As he continues to get the car sorted, Scott intends to drive the car more and is talking about doing events such as Drag Week, Sick Week, and some half-mile events with the car. He may not be killing it on the fuel mileage runs when compared to the factory V-6. But, there’s no doubt his Camaro has way more punch than GM’s engineers ever imagined with their factory, naturally aspirated and “only” 400 horsepower 6.2-liter engines. All it took was a little hole in the hood to make it all fit.