Project True SStreet, our 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS, is coming along quite nicely. The goal is to build a true street/strip ride that can drive us to the drag strip and make 9-second passes, or even 8-second passes if things go our way. Our goals are lofty, however, we have a plan that includes a Late Model Engines (LME) built 427 LSX with a W275AX Whipple supercharger. That combination should set us on track to have a street car with over 1,000 horsepower. Currently, we have the engine bolted up to a Hughes Performance Powerglide transmission in the Camaro chassis. Before starting this beast up for the first time, we need to add a radiator to keep this monster engine cool.
When you think about how an internal combustion engine works (explosions and fire), you know it will create heat. And since Project True SStreet isn’t supposed to be a drag racer that will be trailered and only run for five minutes at a time, it will need an excellent heat exchanger for the car to idle in everyday traffic. Unfortunately, we knew the OEM radiator that came in the Camaro wasn’t sufficient. So to solve this problem, we reached out to the pros at C&R Racing.
C&R Racing has been designing and manufacturing motorsports radiators since 1988. Chris Paulsen, the founder of C&R, built a specialty machine and fabrication shop, which expanded into making cooling components. As a result, C&R Racing became the supplier of choice for cooling solutions by many race teams in the motorsport industry. In 2015, C&R Racing merged with PWR North America to expand its scope and create even more advanced cooling products for its customers.
Advice On Heat
While C&R Racing is well known for its racing radiators, it’s truly a one-stop shop for cooling system components.
According to Herb Engelhart, head of sales for C&R Racing/PWR, they also manufacture oil coolers and intercoolers. “We make all kinds of heat exchangers, and anything over 600 horsepower, you will want an oil cooler,” says Engelhart. “Our radiator is designed to be a heat exchanger for 1,000 horsepower and beyond. But from our years in motorsports, we recognize the importance of keeping the oil cool, too.” Engelhart indicated that each cooling system is designed to handle what the car will put out, plus more. So if we go over 1,000 horsepower, the system C&R Racing built for us will be able to handle the extra power.
Engelhart also talked about the importance of an intercooler to keep the air as cold as possible before it goes into the supercharger. “As the air gets hotter, it also becomes less dense, reducing the amount of oxygen available, which harms performance. An intercooler works to counteract this process, cooling the compressed air to provide the engine with more oxygen and improving the combustion in each cylinder.”
With the solid advice provided by Engelhart about heat exchangers for big horsepower engines, we knew exactly what we needed. When the box arrived at the shop, it was like Christmas morning. In that box was a beautiful custom aluminum radiator with twin SPAL electric fans in a gorgeous aluminum fan shroud. Everything was already assembled and ready to drop into the fifth-gen Camaro.
Anyone who dives into a custom car project knows that things don’t always go as planned, as performance stuff doesn’t always bolt in as it should. Luckily, this was not the case with our large heat exchanger from C&R Racing. This thing was perfect and dropped right into the front of the Camaro utilizing the stock mounting hardware. There was no cutting, grinding, or cursing. Plus, the clearance for the fans and the front accessory drive of the LS engine was perfect.
Nothing makes us happier in the shop than a part that fits like it is supposed to. It saves us lots of time and skinned knuckles when a part works. This radiator certainly meets that criteria, as it went in as designed.
Prior to dropping in the radiator, we had routed the power and control wires needed for the two fans attached to the aluminum radiator. Then, to circulate water through the radiator and engine block, we added a Meziere Enterprises electric water pump. This electric pump has enough juice to move the water through the big radiator while not stealing any horsepower from the engine.
If what you need for your cooling requirements is not available on the C&R Racing website, don’t fret, as the company can make custom radiators. Engelhart says this isn’t uncommon. “Everything we build is done 100-percent on-site. We have thousands of components in stock and a team of people to braze the core and ensure the fin design you want to match your application.”
Off-road, hot rods, race cars, you name it and they will make it happen, and turn-around times are fast. But, of course, the best option is to send C&R Racing your OEM radiator to ensure the mounting tabs and inlet-outlet lines are in the perfect spot on the new custom unit.
Not only did this radiator fit perfectly, but we realized once it was installed actually how pretty it was. The C&R Racing aluminum radiator looks excellent and is a quality piece. Every TIG weld on the radiator is perfectly done and polished to a gorgeous shine.
The SPAL electric fans attached to the radiator are specifically chosen for each application based on their output and ability to push a calculated amount of air. Each of the fans on Project True SStreet can move 1,864 cfm of air. Even while idling on a hot summer day, the temperature of the Camaro’s 1,000 horsepower engine will be kept in check.
One of the reasons the welds on the radiator are done with precision is the amount of pressure the coolant is under inside the radiator. On an LS engine, coolant pressure will reach 20 pounds per square inch. When pressure is maintained in a cooling system, you increase the boiling point of water by three degrees Fahrenheit for every one psi added to the system. This is important to prevent steam pockets in your cooling system. Water running along the surface area of an engine or radiator cools parts, steam does not. To ensure an engine is cooled properly, water needs to stay in its liquid form.
The radiator cap regulates cooling system pressure. In our application, a 20-psi radiator cap increases the boiling point of water by 60-degrees, Making the boiling point 272 degrees. Adding 50-percent distilled water and 50-percent ethylene glycol antifreeze into the radiator also increases the boiling point. This simple 1:1 mix of water and ethylene glycol raises the boiling point of water another 14 degrees, for a final boiling point of 286 degrees.
Engelhart informed us to only use distilled water and never tap water in the radiator. Tap water has minerals in it and can cause problems down the road. Magnesium and calcium deposits can build up, clogging coolant pathways and the water pump.
Since this fifth-gen Camaro did not come with this engine combination, we had to do some trimming at the bulkhead to get the engine to fit as far back into the chassis as possible. The addition of the electric water pump on the LSX 427 means off-the-shelf upper and lower radiator hoses aren’t going to fit. We sourced some silicone hoses and universal connectors to plumb the radiator to the engine. Silicone hoses benefit from superior flexibility compared to rubber, as they maintain their flexibility over their lifespan, unlike rubber hoses.
With our cooling system completed, it’s finally time to start this massive LSX 427 and get our Project True SStreet Camaro off the rack and rolling out of the shop. Stay tuned as Project True SStreet heads to completion.