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The perfect storm: 482 cubes of Vortech-supercharged Camaro perfection

31 October 2015


Have you see Jason Fell’s insane, twin-turbo 540ci Camaro RS on the cover of NZV8 Issue No. 127? Here’s the car as it was back in the day — which would you rather drive; past or present?

The belt-driven turbo style of the supercharger hasn’t really taken off in New Zealand. Maybe it’s because we like our cars to stand out and be noticed, so we tend to opt for the loud and shiny twin-screw and Roots-type blowers sticking out of the bonnet. It seems these days that many people are fitting the big butter churns in an attempt to look the part, rather than the look being a by-product of a desire for performance. From the outset, it’s not hard to tell that the owner of this 1969 Camaro is into making his cars look good, but it’s slightly harder to tell that he’s seriously into making them perform as well. 

After seeing numerous successes in Australia with blow-through carburetted Vortech set-ups, Jason Fell knew someone had to be the first to build a similar combination in New Zealand. As luck would have it, he had the perfect car for the potent combination sitting in his garage.

Having already owned the Camaro for around five years, and slowly but surely building it into one of the toughest-looking street cars around, making the decision to add more power was easy. “The car always looked the part and it went well, but just not well enough. I was only going to increase the capacity of it, but then got more and more into the Vortech idea,” Jason says. After researching further, he quickly learned that Jake Edwards of Jake’s Performance in Canberra, Australia, has had more success with these blowers than anyone else. “Jake and I got talking and he confirmed that a blow through setup would work, and could make plenty of power without the need for electronics or fuel injection.” 

Despite choosing the forced-induction route, Jason still decided to go for increased capacity, and as the motor required lower compression to suit the forced induction set-up, expanding the capacity at the same time wasn’t a problem. These days, JE pistons hang off Scat rods, which in turn connect to a super-strong 4340 steel stroker crank. The block itself has been converted to four-bolt mains, fitted with billet main caps, and ARP fasteners have been used throughout. The result is a bottom end able to withstand far greater boost levels than Jason is currently running, or plans to — though we all know how this will soon change.

Up top, the engine features similarly high-end gear. AFR CNC-machined heads with 57mm intake and 48mm exhaust valves, along with Comp Cams valve springs and retainers, ensure the motor has a high revs threshold. A Kelford Cams solid flat tappet cam with a specific blower grind, Crow Cams pushrods, and Yella Terra roller rockers all work to get the engine breathing at peak efficiency. 

On Jake’s recommendation, a Vortech V7 YSI supercharger was chosen. These deceptively small units can flow up to as a much as 29psi of boost and 1500cfm of air, but Jason has opted for a far more sensible 12psi. Rather than go for an EFI system, an 850cfm Holley carb has been modified to become boost-friendly.

The result is a surprisingly well-mannered and drivable 750hp at the wheels, with a torque curve that heads equally sky high. With the bonnet down, the only giveaway is the chromed pipe peering through it — until the key is turned, that is, at which point supercharger’s noise is unmistakable.

In any boosted application, the fuel and ignition systems are the most important areas of the engine package to focus on. Without one, you have no go. Without the other, you have a whole lot of melted pistons and bent rods — an expensive no go. On the fuel side of the equation, there’s now a pair of Bosch 044 pumps that feed into a custom surge tank. From there, fuel is sent to the carb by a Holley Black fuel pump. On the ignition side, there’s an MSD crank trigger, MSD coil, MSD leads, and a Summit CDI system. Still not happy, Jason is making more mods to further increase spark in case the boost is ever wound up.

A driveshaft broke while the car was on the dyno in a previous configuration, and the car caught fire due to the resulting severed fuel lines, so a heavy-duty driveshaft with billet yokes is now fitted. “When the driveshaft broke the whole arse end of the gearbox was ripped off. Man it was wild,” Jason remembers. “Luckily they got the fire out or it could have been much more serious.” The replacement trans is a TH400 that has been fitted with a Protrans manual valve body and 2400rpm stall converter. With the billet shaft, the tough trans, and GM 10-bolt LSD filled with Moser axles and a billet head, the only expendable driveline components are now the rear tyres. 

Hamilton’s Top Town is the importer for Foose wheels, and Jason would have no doubt been shunned if he hadn’t chosen to fit Foose to the Camaro. The Nitrous model rims measure in at an impressive 20×10 inches at the rear and 18×8 inches up front. Wrapped in ultra-thin Continental rubber, they suit the stance of the car perfectly. 

Since Jason’s the owner of Waikato Motor Trimmer, there was never any doubt the vehicle would receive a full interior refit. The job is subtle thanks to the choice of black leather, and the craftsmanship is perfect. Before the retrim the front seats were modified to include inflatable lumbar supports as well as some custom shaping. Jason’s son Corbin even has a matching black leather child seat for those family drives, complete with his name embroidered on it.

Within the engine bay, there are many finishing details that set this car apart from most other vehicles out there. For example, almost every removable item is chrome plated or polished. George at Advanced Plating has no doubt spent hour upon hour working on the engine bay, and the end result is simply stunning. After the engine build Jason couldn’t be happier with the performance — who wouldn’t be with an easy 750hp at the treads? There is potential for far more if the boost is cranked up, but the Camaro wasn’t built to be a race car, just a cool high-power streeter, and that’s exactly what it is. 

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Vortech supercharged vehicles popping up in New Zealand over the next few years. After all, they are big in Australia, and all it takes is someone to do it first with good results before it catches on. If and when that happens, Jason will no doubt take 69AR to the next level to keep ahead of the rapidly gathering crowd.  


  • Engine:  482ci big block Chev, JE forged pistons, Childs & Albert piston rings, Scat 6.135-inch H-beam rods, Scat 4340 steel stroker crankshaft, four-bolt conversion, billet main caps, ARP main studs, AFR 305 CNC heads, 57mm inlet valves, 48mm exhaust valves, Comp Cams valve springs, Comp Cams retainers, Kelford Cams solid flat tappet cam, Yella Terra roller rockers, Crow Cams pushrods, Edelbrock Victor intake manifold, 850cfm Holley blow-through carburettor, Vortech V7 YSI supercharger, two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Holley Black fuel pump, MSD crank trigger, Summit CDI ignition, MSD coil, MSD leads, Hooker headers, three-inch exhaust, Griffin alloy radiator, twin 10-inch fans, aluminium transmission cooler
  • Driveline: TH400 transmission, 2400rpm stall converter, Protrans manual valve body, GM 10-bolt LSD, 3.42:1 final drive ratio, Moser axles, billet 10-bolt hat, billet driveshaft yokes
  • Suspension: KYB gas adjustable shocks, lowered springs
  • Brakes: Wilwood four-piston calipers, cross-drilled rotors
  • Wheels/tyres: 18×8 and 20×10-inch Foose Nitrous rims, 225/35R18 and 285/25R20 Continental tyres
  • Exterior: Custom bonnet, custom paint
  • Interior: Full leather retrim, custom front seats, Momo billet steering wheel, Auto Meter Pro Comp liquid-filled gauges, Blaupunkt head unit, Clarion speakers, Cerwin Vega subwoofer, 400W amp
  • Performance: 750hp at the wheels, 12psi boost

This article was orginally published in NZV8 Issue No. 42. You can pick up a print copy of the magazine below — but be quick because there’s only a handful of print copies left!