The 5th Gen Camaro SS is one of the most popular and modifiable USDM sports cars to arrive on the scene in the past few decades. A large factor in that is the 6.2L LS3 V8 under the hood, which has one of the biggest aftermarket communities for any American engine ever. Header upgrades, upgraded differential gears, stall converters, cams, and supercharger kits are all extremely popular 5th Gen Camaro SS mods that have the potential to completely transform a 2SS into an entirely different machine.
Best 5th Gen Camaro Performance Mods
Before we get too far into the best modifications for the Camaro SS, there are a couple of caveats that we need to talk about first. In total, the 5th gen Camaro SS came with two engine options including the LS3 and L99. The 6.2L LS3 came in cars equipped with manual transmissions, while the slightly lower output 6.2L L99 V8 came standard in Camaro SSs with an automatic transmission. This list is mainly applicable to 5th generation Camaro SSs equipped with the 6.2L LS3 engine. However, since the engines are nearly identical, almost all of the modifications listed here will work on both manual and automatic 5th gen Camaro SSs.
Camaro SS Mods – Headers
There’s a reason that headers are the most popular starting modification (by far) for the 5th Gen Camaro SS. They are unquestionably one of the biggest bang-for-buck modifications that you can do, in addition to providing some other fun benefits outside of power and torque gains.
The term “header” is used to describe a replacement for the factory exhaust manifolds. In basic terms, Camaro SS headers are the first exhaust components bolted to the exhaust ports of the LS3 engine. For that reason, they play a massive role in terms of exhaust flow leaving the engine. Unlike the short factory LS3 exhaust manifolds that aren’t optimized to reduce internal turbulence and provide exhaust gasses with a frictionless route to escape, aftermarket headers are designed to do just that. With increased efficiency comes increased power as well, as the two go hand-in-hand.
You’ll also have to consider whether you want short-tube or long-tube headers. The difference between the two is contained within their names. The different-length runner tubes also create different airflow characteristics which lead to different power delivery characteristics. Most 2010-2015 Camaro owners go with long-tube headers as they provide the biggest top-end power gains.
It is also important to remember that catless Camaro headers aren’t road-legal and will cause you to fail an emissions test. While catless headers unquestionably provide the most horsepower, retaining some form of catalytic converters is a good option for those who want to keep a new set of headers on their 5th Gen year-round.
Camaro 2SS Headers Performance Benefits
As we stated above, long-tube Camaro SS headers are one of the best ways to see massive power and torque gains without the hassle of having to open the engine or deal with massively expensive and complicated upgrades like a supercharger. In general, it is safe to assume that you’ll see gains of around 20-30rwhp and a similar amount of torque with a quality header setup when paired with an upgraded intake and a tune. For that reason, headers might be one of the best horsepower-per-dollar Camaro SS mods that you can buy.
- 20-30rwhp and 25-35wtq gains
- More aesthetically pleasing engine bay
- Improved sound
- Amplifies the effects of other performance modifications
Best Camaro SS Header Option
Ultimately, there are tons of Camaro SS header options on the market since they are such a popular modification. There are also a few tier levels to Camaro SS headers as well, ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. The general consensus in the Camaro community is that it is generally a good idea to split the difference and get headers that fall somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum.
One of the most popular mid-tier Camaro SS header options is the 1-⅞” long tubes by Stainless Power. Not only do they have a fantastic reputation overall, but they are also quality pieces of kit that aren’t likely to let you down anytime soon after you purchase them.
Unsurprisingly, Stainless Power manufactures high-quality and rust-resistant 304 stainless steel headers. Their large 1-⅞” diameter runners provide ample exhaust flow for maximum power gains. Stainless Power advertises that their Camaro SS headers should yield in the ballpark of 35-40 rwhp with an upgraded air intake and tune. Satisfied customers widely corroborate that number too.
Camaro SS Mods – Differential Gears
Another very common modification for the 5th Gen Camaro SS is a differential gear upgrade, or differential upgrade as a whole. Ultimately, final drive ratios are a widely talked about and debated topic in the 5th Gen community, especially due to the fact that it truly depends on how you drive your car. With that being said, there are options out there for everyone.
To explain differential gearing in extremely basic terms, the higher the final drive ratio, the faster the Camaro SS will accelerate. However, the faster acceleration from a higher final drive ratio comes at the cost of top-end speed. In most cases, Camaro SS owners prefer to have a higher final drive, as it gives a much quicker launch while putting less stress on surrounding drivetrain components. Most Camaro SS owners who intend on drag racing their car will go for either a 3.50 or 3.91 rear end, depending on their car’s power level.
In addition to swapping out the gears in the factory Camaro SS, some 5th Gen Camaro owners opt to swap their entire differential with one from a 5th Gen Camaro ZL1. The ZL1 came with two different gear ratios including a 3.23 (auto trans) and 3.73 (M6) final drive. While upgrading to a full ZL1diff setup is quite a bit more expensive than upgrading the gears in the factory box, many Camaro owners who have done the swap claim that it transforms the car entirely.
5th Gen Camaro SS Diff Gear Upgrade Performance Benefits
As we have already briefly mentioned, the purpose of changing out your differential gears is to alter how your Camaro SS puts its power to the ground. That has a massive effect on overall performance as well. Most Camaro SS owners opt for a final drive ratio that is higher than stock, which trades some top-end speed for better acceleration. That is ideal for Camaro owners who are planning to drag or track their car, because it trades largely unusable power for immediately usable power.
In addition to the improved performance characteristics, upgraded diff gears (or an upgraded diff altogether) put less strain on surrounding components like the axles and driveshaft. As a result, many Camaro SS owners who have had issues breaking axles and driveshafts don’t experience as many issues with an upgraded diff.
- Significantly higher low-end performance with higher final drive
- Significantly higher top-end performance with lower final drive
- Decreases wear and strain on axles and driveshaft
Best Camaro SS Upgraded Diff Gearing Options
Ultimately, upgrading your Camaro SS’s differential gears boils down to what your goals are with your build. If you are looking for the fastest 0-60 times that you can achieve, you’ll want to look for differential gears with a higher final drive. If you are looking for fast speed trap figures, you might be better off with diff gears with a lower final drive. There are plenty of options in the middle as well.
Due to the fact that there is so much variety when it comes to upgraded Camaro SS differential gears, we won’t recommend any specific products here. However, there are a few go-to brands that almost all Camaro guys recommend over everything else. The most popular manufacturer of aftermarket Camaro diff gears is Motive Gear, as they have been the leading name in aftermarket performance drivetrain components for over 30 years.
In addition to Motive Gear, another very popular supplier of aftermarket upgraded differential gears is Richmond Gear. In the business for over 80 years, Richmond Gear is unquestionably one of, if not the, most knowledgable and experienced drivetrain manufacturers in the world. You can certainly trust them with any differential needs for your Camaro SS.
Camaro SS Mods – Upgraded Stall Converter
Upgraded stall converters are another one of the most popular Camaro SS mods, especially if you are planning on taking yours to the drag strip. An upgraded stall converter typically comes later in the modification journey for most Camaro owners, as it is a modification that works best when paired with other power upgrades.
While the details of how an upgraded stall converter works are quite complicated, the overall principle of what they do is relatively simple. An upgraded Camaro SS stall converter raises the point at which the tires will break loose when the gas and brakes are held at the same time. For example, if you have a car with a 2,000 RPM stall converter and hit the gas at the same time that you hold the brakes, the tires will break loose somewhere close to the 2,000 RPM mark. While on surface level that seems like a “so what” kind of modification, it makes more sense when you start thinking about power and torque bands.
At idle, most cars only make around 80 horsepower, which means that it takes a while for them to get into the engine’s peak power range off of the line. By raising the RPM at which the tires break loose, you can get the engine into its optimal power band right when leaves the line, allowing for all of the engine’s power to be available immediately. In a drag racing scenario, that is exactly what you want in order to get the best ¼-mile times.
5th Gen Camaro SS Upgraded Stall Converter Benefits
Obviously, the benefits of an upgraded Camaro SS stall converter mostly revolve around drag racing. Stall converters are intended for high-horsepower applications with the goal of improving acceleration and launches. As a result, an upgraded stall converter might not be the best modification for someone who is looking to build a Camaro SS track car or is more concerned with handling than off-the-line performance.
It is also important to mention that upgraded stall converters work best when paired with other modifications that increase power in a given rev range. For example, most Camaro SS owners pair an upgraded stall converter with an upgraded cam and long tube headers which tend to move power higher up the rev range. By dialing in your stall converter to match the peak power band of your other modifications, you’ll get the most impressive launches.
- Significantly more impressive launches off the line
Best Camaro SS Upgraded Stall Converter Options
Like many of the other upgrades on this list, the right stall converter for you might vary significantly compared to someone else with a different build. As we said above, an upgraded Camaro SS stall converter should be specific to your individualized mod list and should accompany an upgraded cam and other similar mods appropriately.
For that reason, we won’t recommend any specific stall converters here, as that would be pretty futile. However, there are a few primary names in the stall converter space that have a pretty strong monopoly on the Camaro SS stall converter market. Jannetty Racing is unquestionably the most popular manufacturer of upgraded stall converters for the 5th Gen Camaro SS, with nothing but high praise from Camaro owners to back up their popularity. Their Circle D 3,200 RPM converter is their highest-selling model, and Jannetty builds specialty converters for both naturally aspirated and forced induction Camaro SSs.
Outside of Jannetty Racing, Yank Converters also carries a very expansive line of quality upgraded stall converters for the 5th Gen Camaro SS as well. In fact, Yank might carry the most stall converter options for the 5th Gan of any company. Like Jannetty, Yank has a very good reputation in the community and some even recommend Yank over Jannetty due to the lower cost.
Camaro SS Mods – Upgraded Camshaft
It’s no secret that American V8s benefit a massive amount from an upgraded camshaft. That is especially true for the LS engines and the LS3 found in the Camaro SS. Once again, Camaro SS cam upgrades are one of those modifications with so many available options that choosing the right one can get overwhelming.
Choosing a camshaft is such a daunting task as there are so many factors to take into account. Are you looking for the biggest horsepower gain at the sacrifice of drivability? Are you looking for peak torque over peak horsepower? How will available cam options pair with the other modifications that you have already done to your Camaro? Are you planning on going forced induction in the future? These are all questions that you need to ask yourself before pulling the trigger on an upgraded 5th Gen Camaro cam.
However, the 5th Gen Camaro has been around for a while now, and hot rodders have already done most of their experimenting with different setups, so with a decent bit of digging, it is generally pretty easy to find a solid list of cam options that will suit your build’s needs.
If you look at the factory LS3 204/211 .551/.525 117 camshaft, it was clearly chosen to find a middle ground between performance and streetability. The stock cam provides a smooth idle and peak fuel economy, which are two sacrifices that come with a more aggressive cam. We placed cam upgrades at the bottom of this list because, generally, you should perform a cam upgrade after sorting out everything else. You should build a cam around an engine, not the other way around. For more information, check out our Upgraded LS3 Cams Guide.
Upgraded 5th Gen Camaro SS Camshaft Benefits
In terms of sheer performance gains, the only 5th Gen Camaro SS modification that can rival an upgraded camshaft is a supercharger. While supercharger kits are another fantastic route to go (which we’ll cover shortly), an aggressive camshaft is the best way to add heaps of power to a naturally aspirated LS3 build.
As I mentioned previously, there is a tradeoff between power and driveability when it comes to upgraded Camaro SS cams. Generally speaking, overcamming an engine is worse than undercamming one due to the fact that picking a cam that is too aggressive can make your 5th Gen Camaro undrivable on the street. However, if you are planning on tracking your Camaro frequently, a cam is one of the most necessary and beneficial modifications available.
In fundamental terms, an upgraded 5th Gen Camaro SS camshaft changes how the LS3’s intake and exhaust valves operate by adjusting the time that they are open, the amount to which they are open, and the phasing of both the intake and exhaust valves and how they operate in sync with each other. Aggressive cams keep the valves open wider, longer, and more frequently to allow the engine more fuel and air per combustion cycle. An aggressive cam can profoundly impact horsepower and torque and their delivery to the wheels.
Camaro SS Mods – Supercharger Kit
When it comes to horsepower per dollar, a supercharger kit is unquestionably the best Camaro SS modification by a long shot. While being great value for money, Camaro SS superchargers sure are a lot of money, which is why we saved them for last. Due to the fact that the LS3 is such a strong engine out of the gate, it can handle a fair bit of boost without having to worry about sacrificing too much reliability. Generally, a stock LS3 can handle around 700 crank horsepower before you have to start worrying about internal integrity.
As a result, 2SS Camaro supercharger kits are extremely popular and numerous. There’s also the issue of what type of 2SS supercharger to buy. In general, there are two different options. A roots-style blower or a centrifugal supercharger. Neither option is bad, and they both have their own benefits and shortcomings. They behave very differently. While we won’t get too deep into how each supercharger style works, we’ll break it down into the basics.
A Camaro Roots-style supercharger is essentially a large air pump. As positive displacement superchargers revolve, they pump a constant volume of air into the intake manifold regardless of how fast they are revolving. That means that their power delivery is very linear and there is almost no boost lag at any particular RPM.
Centrifugal superchargers function a lot differently than Roots blowers and function more like turbochargers. They have a compressor wheel that spins at a high RPM to force air into the LS engine. However, unlike turbos which use exhaust gas to function, centrifugal superchargers are belt-driven. As a result, centrifugal superchargers are susceptible to boost lag, with most of the power coming in higher in the rev range.
5th Gen Camaro SS Supercharger Benefits
Ultimately, the benefits of a 2SS supercharger kit should be pretty self-explanatory. In most cases, there is more potential available from a power perspective when forced induction is added to the mix and that is very much the case here. While there are purists out there who believe that the Camaro SS should be kept NA, a supercharger really does take a 2SS where no naturally aspirated mods can (and retain daily drivability, that is).
While both roots-style and centrifugal superchargers are both fantastic options, their benefits are different. If you are looking for a linear powerband and to retain a naturally aspirated-like feel, a roots supercharger is the way to go. It will provide power through the entire rev range, which is good if you enjoy predictable power delivery. A centrifugal supercharger offers the most power perspective options. Generally speaking, a centrifugal 2SS supercharger can reach a higher performance ceiling than most roots superchargers.
Whichever route you choose and the tune that you choose to run, a 2SS supercharger kit can add an additional 50-300 horsepower to your Camaro. While most Camaro SS supercharger kits hover somewhere around the $5,000-$10,000 mark, the performance potential from them is unmatched.
Best Camaro 2SS Supercharger Options
To be entirely honest, there aren’t really any negative reports from any of the most popular 2SS supercharger kit offerings. That is fantastic, as you can be pretty sure of satisfaction regardless of the kit that you choose. With that being said, there are a number of brands that are more well-known than others, which is beneficial from an installation and tuning perspective.
Whipple is unquestionably the most popular option as far as roots-style 2SS superchargers are concerned. While the Whipple is technically a twin-screw design, meaning that it compresses that air directly instead of building manifold pressure, it still functions nearly identical to a more traditional roots supercharger. As a result, power and torque delivery from the Whipple is very predictable and linear. There are thousands of positive reviews of the Whipple 2SS system, with some owners pushing their car to the 700+ horsepower mark.
As for centrifugal superchargers, ProCharger is the biggest name in the game. In addition to Camaro superchargers, ProCharger makes centrifugal supercharger kits for basically every USDM engine under the sun. It’s safe to say that they know what they are doing. In total, ProCharger offers six different centrifugal kits for the 2SS, each with different included components. Their P-1SC-1 Stage 1 kit is advertised to add 50% horsepower at 7 psi of boost. Their higher-tier P-1SC-1 Stage 2 kit is advertised to produce 55% horsepower at 7.5 psi of boost.
Ultimately, there is no wrong answer when it comes to 2SS supercharger kits, it boils down to personal preference and your tuner’s comfort level when dealing with the kit of your choice. Regardless, they are one of the best Camaro SS mods available.
Best Camaro 2SS Modifications Summary
While the 5th generation Camaro SS is an aging car at this point, it is still one of the most popular USDM sports cars on the market. That is especially true thanks to all of the aftermarket potential that the Chevy LS3-powered Camaro has. The number of modifications available for the Camaro 2SS is so extensive that it can get overwhelming at times. Luckily, there is a pretty solid blueprint to follow at this point in terms of a build strategy for these cars.
Most 2SS owners begin with (relatively) simple naturally aspirated mods. The most popular NA Camaro mods include long tube headers, differential gear upgrades, an upgraded stall converter, and a camshaft upgrade, in that order. That is unquestionably the way to go if you are trying to build a rapid 2SS drag car. If you are looking for a more streetable build, you can probably skip intensive diff work and an upgraded stall converter. While an upgraded cam is one of the best modifications from a power perspective, it is a good idea to err on the side of less if you plan on daily driving your Camaro.
There comes a point where it is more cost-effective to upgrade to a forced induction Camaro build instead of sinking countless resources into NA modifications. That is typically around the 600rwhp mark. If you plan on passing that power figure, a supercharger kit is likely your best bet. There are plenty of roots-style and centrifugal 2SS supercharger kits on the market, and the right choice boils down to personal preference.