Category Archives: 2. 2014 Camaro SS/RS

Camaro Strut Tower Brace

IMG_3316For RedRock‘s first modification, I ordered a OEM Camaro strut tower brace.  The strut tower brace comes standard on the 1LE and Z28 versions of the Camaro, installed at the factory.  Since this is an easy non intrusive bolt on, I thought why not.

The brace is all aluminum.  The two ends are rough cast and the brace is hallow aluminum stock bent in a curvature clearing the engine cover.  The kit comes with all necessary mounting hardware.  A quick trial fit revealed everything lined up perfectly.

IMG_3312aAs nice as the strut tower brace looks though, it needed some extra work.  The cast aluminum mount pads needed attention.  Each pad has three bolt holes (see picture on the left) and each bolt hole is machined on the back side so the pad fits flat against the strut tower on the body.

Around each bolt hole though, were many burrs and sharp shavings left from the machining process.  This would cut into the paint on the strut tower and lead to corrosion.  Easy fix:  I grabbed my Dremel tool and used one of the metal brush wheels to remove the burrs.  Problem solved.

Next, the curved brace showed some scratching from shipping and machining as well as light staining.  I’ve learned from my cousin Jim that ScotchBrite can be used to give aluminum a nice finish.  The trick is to slide the ScotchBrite pad in the same direction so the pad polishes the surface.  The result is a laid down “matte” finish that complements the silver finish on the engine cover.

After polishing, I masked a few inches on either side with tape.  Then cleaned the cast mounting pads free of any oils and used some semi-gloss black paint from a rattle can of High Temp Engine Enamel.  Quite a number of coats later, the cast surface looked much nicer.  In the meantime while paint dried, I punched some spacers out of a sheet of flat rubber I obtained from my cousin Jim’s machine shop.  I decided to do this to prevent damaging the paint on the strut towers on the car.

IMG_3314I used the tool on the right to punch the discs out of a sheet of rubber.  They are about 1/8 inch thick.  The punch to the left was used to take out the center hole.  The result is a rubber washer made to fit the spot on the mounts where they contact the struts on the car.

I realize the benefits of the strut tower brace might be questionable.  However, I like the way it looks and given it is OEM, why not?  When the weather turns a bit warmer, I’m thinking about getting a custom rattle can of paint in Red Rock Metallic and paint the black ends so they match body color.  But, for the time being this looks nice enough for me.  The mounted strut tower brace turned out very nice!  :mrgreen:

First Road Trip in RedRock

IMG_3357Yesterday (Christmas day) was my first real road trip in RedRock.  I left early in the morning for a 2.5 hour drive to my mom’s house in Aiken SC.  We had a great deal to be thankful for this year:  my nephew Chris graduated last week, from Louisiana State University with a degree in Industrial Engineering.  Uncle Joe (that would be me) is extremely proud of him:  he has accepted a fantastic job offer with NISSAN at their Canton, Mississippi plant.  I could not be more proud.  I suppose my eldest nephew will be a gearhead, just like me…  😉

So back to RedRock:  As you can see in today’s pictures, RedRock achieved 22.5 miles per gallon on this first road trip.  This was done by sticking to Interstate travel instead of the usual secondary roads and setting the cruise control to 75 mph.  I would have tried a little more, but I just did not have the stones to tempt fate and get a freakin’ ticket.  The SCHP was thick as flies over fresh roadkill yesterday.

At any rate, I think this result is remarkable…  A 400hp 6.2L V8 3500lb muscle car producing this kind of efficiency is amazing.  My old Z28 would be lucky to break the high teens, then again… It was 21 years old.  Don’t take me wrong, the last thing I worry about is fuel – after all, this is why one owns a muscle car, right?

I hope Santa has been good to you and your family.  Peace!  😀

And… One last picture.  Here is my sister and her two boys, Chris and Andy.  Andy is currently in his second year at Colorado State University in Ft Collins CO.

It is a hard rule of this blog to keep things car related, but rules are meant to be broken.  Today, the rule is broken:  I am VERY PROUD of Sis and her two boys.



RedRock at 5,000 Miles

RedRock hit a milestone yesterday at 5,000 miles on the odometer.  Only happens once…


Barely broken in…

The event happened on the way to a local Chevrolet dealer, where they were kind enough to download and re-flash the firmware on the MyLink entertainment center.  Nothing wrong mind you, I just wanted to make sure we had the latest and greatest.  All is good…

While at the dealership, I saw this:


2016 C6 Camaro SS

This is the first C6 2016 Camaro I have had a chance to check out up close and personal.  Compared to mine, it is a bit smaller, lighter and more “refined’ if you will.  It is going to take some time to get used to it.

The magazines say this is an evolution of the concept and not a full re-write.  The body is certainly different, take a look at the following photo gallery:

Some thoughts about the new Camaro:

  • Sticker on this SS (it was an automatic) was $45,780.
  • The interior is very nice indeed. The door cards have a different lighting affair and so do the thresholds. It feels “smaller” inside. Instrumentation and AC vents are completely different. The center console is weird! The lid is narrow and long.
  • Front looks nice – I prefer my 2014 better.
  • The rear quarter panel looks out of proportion. Probably the least favorite part.
  • The lower rear bumper is not as big as the C5 – again I prefer my 2014.
  • Finally, the rear fender bulges are different. The C6’s are more “rounded”; I prefer the looks of my 2014.

Dealer Sticker

IMG_3278The first thing I did after getting RedRock home was a to remove the dealer sticker.  Dealers have this bad habit of taking the liberty of plastering their dealer stickers on the back of cars without even asking customers for their blessing first.

This is my car, and I do not endorse dealer stickers.

Some dealers use a vinyl material for their dealer stickers and they are fairly straight forward to remove.  Others – as in the my case here – use this horrible plastic badge, backed with double-sided sticky-tape!  This is not cool!

IMG_3279So I headed to the local pharmacy on the way home, and bought a roll of the cheapest dental floss available.  This particular container was all of a buck-fifty and minty to boot.  The trick is to try to soften the badge’s sticky tape with a hot air gun.  But just a little; don’t want to damage anything.  Then, while wearing some mechanics gloves, get a long strip of dental floss and slowly work the floss to slice the sticky tape.  This takes patience and a fair bit of dental floss; it frays as you go, so one must keep an eye on things.

Eventually, the tag comes off and leaves this nasty mess:

IMG_3282Fortunately, this particular cheap ass tag must have come from China because it had some really crappy backing tape.  Had they used the good stuff (it is expensive) the process would have taken longer.  So, how does this crappy residue come off?  First you very carefully peel this stuff off with your fingers.  And I mean, very carefully.

Then grab plenty of paper towels and use something like this:

IMG_3284This is pre-paint prep solvent.  This is NOT thinner and it is designed specifically to remove this kind of mess.  No, it won’t work immediately.  Best results are obtained by dabbing a paper towel with this solvent, then applying to the rubbery residue and repeat.

IMG_3285Eventually the stuff works into the rubbery residue left by the sticker and it starts to peel up in little turds.  Takes time, but it works.  With a little more elbow grease, the result looks like this:

IMG_3291Word of caution:  this solvent does remove any and all wax.  It goes without saying, I ended up applying a fresh coat of wax to the rear trunk deck.

Add insult to injury, the next sticker to be removed was this:

IMG_3294Epic fail on the part of the “tech” doing the oil change.  On a car with a windshield this raked, placement of the Oil Change sticker just makes no sense.  In addition, this is totally redundant because the Driver Information Center clearly shows remaining oil life.  So this sticker was also quickly removed.

2014 Camaro SS/RS


2014 Camaro 2SS/RS in Red Rock Metallic

This past Thursday, December 10th, 2015 I took delivery of my new ride – a 2014 Camaro SS/RS with only 4,568 miles on the odometer.  This car is a 2SS model, with the optional RS package adding many cool niceties.  Since this is an SS,  it comes with the big 6.2L 400hp/410ft-lb engine paired with a six speed paddle-shifted automatic.  I would have preferred the six speed manual, but given the amount of traffic in town these days, I just could not justify the wear and tear that would result from all the stop-and-go conditions.  Plus this car is fully loaded!

The caption says it all...

The caption says it all…

Yes, this is a previously owned vehicle, but I’ll let the caption to the left do the talking (click on it and you’ll see what I mean)…  I agree, that this Camaro is no Aston Martin but the basic concept remains.

Unfortunately the original window sticker was not to be found, but I was able to get the original sales invoice from when the vehicle was first sold.  Suffice to say, the original owner took one hell of hit between that original sticker price and what I paid.

I’ve never been a fan of buying a new car just because it is “new off the showroom floor”.  It is best to wait and take your time finding that special deal such as this one.  I have no problem buying a 4,568 mile “new” car including full factory warranty!  :mrgreen:


The exterior color is new for 2014:  Red Rock Metallic and hence I’ll refer to it as RedRock.  The RS package adds “halo” headlamps, a rear wing, body color drip rails, and dark gray 20″ aluminum wheels shod with Pirelli P-Zero staggered tires.   In addition there is a sunroof with vent mode and slider mode.  Oh and yes, also new for 2014 is a fully functional heat extractor built into the hood.  The vent comes finished in black, just like the front grill.


I’m really pleased with the interior.  Fit and finish is much improved and overall it is quiet and spacious for this type of car.  The interior is a dark ebony with two-way heated and electric powered driver’s and passenger’s front seats.

There is a Heads Up Display (HUD) with full color rendering of speed, tach, g-force, shift lights, turn signals, radio station, compass direction, etc.  This is all accomplished by a push button which cycles through different “pages” worth of data.

Full instrumentation plus the special console-mounted gauge cluster (part of the RS package) shows all sorts of details one might need to know about.  As if that were not enough, there is a dash mounted digital display between the tach and speedo, that shows even more info such as engine oil temp, oil pressure, MPG’s, miles-to-empty, etc, etc, etc.

The MyLink infotainment system is very cool – with Bluetooth, XM radio, AM/FM, USB connectivity (for iPod or thumb drive), but no CD player.  What’s a CD, right??   This thing pairs itself with my iPhone and enables hands-free phone calls.  It will even “read” to you text messages – nice!  I’m still trying to figure this thing out – it comes with a 92 page manual, separate from the Owner’s Manual.

So, What is it Like?

This earth shaker is a point-and-shoot affair.  The independent rear suspension is a huge improvement over a straight axle.  Add to this a 3.27 axle ratio and you get about 2,000 RPM’s at 70 mph.  Nice.

There is no power steering pump.  The 2014 C5 Camaro has electric assisted steering and this one works very nice.  Throttle of course is fly-by-wire which I don’t have a problem with.  Finally, the transmission has two settings: “Drive” and “Sport”.  In Sport mode it is fully controlled with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.  There is a slight lag in shifts, however I think it will just take some practice to get my timing just right.  It is not a substitute for a clutch but given what it is, I’m very pleased.

Finally the part that will take more getting used to is the Displacement on Demand (DOD) or Active Fuel Management (AFM).  The L99 engine comes equipped with a feature that enables the ECM to shut off 4 cylinders in low-demand conditions.  This comes in handy during steady state driving on the interstate, but not so much around town.

Can it be disabled, you ask?  Yes it can.  AFM is disabled by doing a tune on the ECM however this voids the warranty.  There is also a non-intrusive device available that plugs up to the ALDL diagnostics connector.  For the time being I think I’m going to just learn to live with it by tapping the paddle shifter and requesting a shift when needed.  This will also be fun since it breaks the monotony of driving an “automatic”.  I’ll have more on this in future articles.

The Sad Part…

All this wonderment came with a steep price.  I used my 21-year-old Camaro as trade-in.  A week or so ago, a little part of me died when I walked away at the dealership.  My old Z28 Camaro had been a very trusted and reliable friend.  Hopefully it will have a new home soon.

I could have kept it (and I wish I had) but I just don’t have room for yet another car.  I realize I will wake up one day and kick myself in the ass wishing I still had it.  When we parted ways, the odometer had yet to break 100,000 miles.  In fact it was about 300 miles short.  That LT1 sure was an excellent engine – the OptiSpark and water pump had never been replaced and it never missed a lick.

Overall that Z28 was an exceptionally reliable vehicle and for those of you that like to bash GM’s products think again.  All I did to this car over 21 years of ownership was change oil (every 3k miles, full synthetic Mobil1), filters, tranny fluid, rear-end dope, tires and one AC compressor.  I did replace rotors and brake pads several times but that is just part of owning a car.  All this was not extremely expensive stuff either.  Try that with other brands…   😉

The Z28 will be missed  😥 .  That is for sure.