ONE OF THE most surprising revelations when you drive HSV’s converted and imported Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is how mild mannered it is when not at full attack.
The ride is compliant – comfortable actually – and even that big 6.2-litre supercharged lump of V8 settles right down. It’s still a bit tricky to see out of, but anyone could easily drive it on a daily basis.
To a certain kind of customer, it could be refined almost to a fault.
This person may have imagined the ZL1 to have a bit more mongrel. To be a bit ruder, to throb at idle like it’s never had neighbours, to be a bit more unwieldy to drive, something to be tamed. And for this person, the aftermarket-conjured StreetFighter SF750S might be more to their liking.
Offered by well-known producers KPM Motorsport in Adelaide, the StreetFighter SF750S takes a stock 339kW/617Nm 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS and supercharges it to a thumping 560kW/995Nm. More specifically, a hearty 2.9-litre Whipple twin-screw blower is bolted to the top of the pushrod, cast aluminium donk, inverted, with an air-to-water intercooler on top of the supercharger.
Unlike a milder 650-horsepower package, the 750 horsepower – hence the name; S means Street – requires an overhauled direct-injected fuel system with bigger injectors, high-pressure pump and low-pressure in-tank pump.
Curiously, KPM Motorsport keeps the stock cam and says it’s more than up to the job for the 750 spec, although for customers keen on that lopey attitude – or more power down the track – will be glad to hear KPM has its grinds on the shelf ready to go. So it’s blower, fuel system, exhaust and an ECU recalibration and basically away you go.
MOTOR exclusive: We drive the only RHD Hennessey Exorcist!
Other modifications made to our test car include H&R lowering springs, which perch the menacing 2SS mere millimetres above optional 20-inch fully forged aluminium StreetFighter Dominator wheels. And you can have whatever tyres you want, more or less.
There’s also a full 3.0-inch stainless steel StreetFighter exhaust made at KPM’s own premises in South Oz. If you want the livery, you can order it, of course. But you get as standard a serial number and plaque with build date of the package.
For the supercharger and exhaust, KPM asks $27,990, which includes fitment at a specialist workshop in your state and a three-year/100,000km limited driveline warranty. KPM will fit the kit to any Camaro less than five years old and also provides all necessary documentation for ADR compliance – meaning that, yes, Constable, she’s 100 per cent street legal.
Walking up to the SF750S you can’t help but tense up slightly, as this is one car that looks like it’s going to give you a black eye if you say the wrong thing. The stance and wheel fitment is bang-on and lends the 2SS a visual aggression that makes the stock car look a bit, well, soft.
It’s all fairly standard kit inside, but then you start it up and the fettled LT1 V8 clears its throat, loudly, down the tailpipes. And then the fun begins.
We had the opportunity to test the SF750S’s acceleration on the front straight of The Bend Motorsport Park. Over multiple runs, and with aggressive semi-slick rear tyres, the big, bad SF750S managed a best of 12.1sec over 400 metres.
On the same day, and in the same conditions, a stock ZL1 recorded 11.73sec. Even getting as much heat into the rear tyres as possible, the SF750S just wouldn’t hook up as hoped. No doubt it would match and possibly best the ZL1, although you’d need more than the 30 minutes we had. With a properly prepared surface and the perfect run, mid-11s may even be possible.
What the numbers don’t tell you, though, is the SF750S has a vastly different character to the ZL1. If the ZL1 is a leather jacket, then the SF750S is a jet-black hoodie.
This is an eye-openingly fast car with enormous power and all the effortless first- and second-gear wheelspin you could ever want. And, though this is an LT1, all the V8 noises of your sweetest LS dreams. The SF750S scratches that very specific modern muscle-car itch in a way only this kind of car can.
MOTOR review: Camaro ZL1
Let’s start with the noise. It sounds absolutely wicked. There’s a menacing lope at idle, which can turn into a fevered intake snarl in about half a second as rear wheels effortlessly spin up into wheelspin.
There’s the perfect mix of intake and deep, thumping exhaust bellow, with lots of supercharger whine. Some high-rpm intake hoarseness aside, this car does not know how to make a limp noise. For lovers of V8 notes, it truly satisfies.
The SF750S has the acceleration to match the noise too. Traction is seriously limited in first and second gears so it’s not until the show is rolling that the SF750S slings itself down the road, hurled by a startling, linear tidal wave of supercharged torque as the eight-speed auto does its best to transmit all that power. It’s scary fast.
Be in no doubt, the SF750S is all about that engine. And it’s a total drug, having you reach for the bottom of the throttle pedal again and again like some lab rat hopelessly addicted to pressing a little paddle in return for a sweet secretion.
All the controls feel spot-on; the Camaro’s front-end even somehow feels better than we’ve felt before, without as much of the obvious artificial heaviness we’ve gotten used to. Be it the tyres, the lower roll centre or what, the steering satisfies. It’s fast enough and allows you to accurately lean into (on this car) the hugely grippy 285/30 front and 305/30 rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4Ss, which are a good match for it in street guise.
Cornering speeds will surprise you, there is that much lateral grip. But again and again you find yourself abandoning any dynamic investigations – this is not a Porsche Cayman or a hot hatch – and instead exploring degrees of throttle-steer out of corners with ever-larger radii. Controllable as all hell too, thanks to all that power, a responsive throttle and a rear cradle with a solid-mounted feeling, connecting your right foot intimately with the rear tyres. Holy moly, it’s fun.
We would caution those wanting to take this high-horsepower cruiser into the corners – or to a track day – to discuss suspension and brake upgrades, as frankly the items on this car were only just up to the job the engine had given them.
The H&R lowering springs, while offering a flat cornering stance on fast, smooth corners, quickly find themselves hopelessly out of their depth on choppy roads, as you bounce around all over the place. KPM offers a coilover kit and is looking at offering ZL1 brakes – both would be worthwhile upgrades.
Back at more relaxed speeds, credit to the package for retaining more OE manners than you’d expect for such a heavily modified vehicle. At an urban amble the blown LT1 is perfectly behaved, driveable and tractable, lazily loping around on small throttle inputs.
Combined with the smooth, eight-speed torque-converter auto with a character familiar to all American muscle-car transmissions, the SF750S is an amazing cruiser. The exhaust even quietens down nicely.
At the end of the day, the SF750S is one very fun and exciting muscle car. It’s been enhanced where it needed enhancements. It’s a beast, but one that is easily tamed over time, though never to the point that the challenge ends, even if said challenge is mostly to do with getting all those horsies to the bitumen.
The SF750S eggs you on like a devil on your shoulder – making you worry about being admitted into a clinic if you ever sold it – but most of all the StreetFighter treatment unleashes an outlaw character seemingly repressed in stock Camaros, ZL1 included. And for a specific kind of person, that’s all the appeal a car like the SF750S needs.
Testing the mettle of the latest metal on MOTOR reviews
STREETFIGHTER SF750S SPECS
Engine: 6162cc V8, OHV, 16v, supercharged
Power: 560kW at 6300rpm
Torque: 995Nm at 4000rpm
0-100km/h: 3.1sec (claimed)
Price: $27,990 (excl. car)
Likes: Huge power and control; all the right V8 vibes and noises; OE low-speed manners; fun
Dislikes: Hard to get all the ponies to the ground; lowering springs have their compromise
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars