Katech Builds 327 COPO Engine That Makes 1,100-Plus Horsepower

A surrogate engine for one of the first 2012 COPO Camaros is making more than 1,100 horsepower.

J.C. Beattie Jr. of ATI Performance took delivery of unit #008 last year and started prepping the car for SS/AAA racing. While this meant the car wasn’t going into the garage to appreciate as a collectible, Beattie knew the value of keeping the numbers-matching, supercharged 327ci engine in mint condition in the event he restores the car to factory-fresh condition.

The new NHRA-legal COPO engine pulled more than 1,100 horsepower on the Katech dyno.

“We wanted to get a second motor built that would turn more rpm and also live,” says Beattie Jr., 

Kevin Pranger at Katech Engines was handed the task of building a NHRA-legal 327ci V8 liter from the ground up, starting with an LSX iron block, LS7 heads and a Whipple 4.0-liter twin-screw supercharger.

“It’s basically a carbon copy of what GM produced,” says Pranger. “It has all the required part numbers, although we actually used the newer model LSX block with the closed deck and put studs in place of the bolts.”

After the block was prepped and the cylinders finished honed to 4.065-inch bore, Pranger installed a Callies 4340 forged-steel crankshaft (3.150-inch stroke), Callies 4340 H-beam Ultra rods (6.350-inch long), Clevite H-series bearings and Mahle 2618 forged aluminum pistons with graphal coating and Mahle .043/.043/3mm piston rings. Static compression ratio can be no more than 10:1, and the piston-rod assembly must weigh at least 1,298 grams. Of course, there’s an ATI Super Damper mounted over the double-keyway crankshaft.

Aggressive approach

“In the beginning I tried a more aggressive valve train and didn’t seem to get more power, yet we had trouble with durability on the dyno,” explains Pranger. “In the end we ran the factory grind to make it more durable.”

That meant falling back on a Comp Cams billet-steel hydraulic roller cam with 246/254 @ .050, 117-degree lobe separation and .630-inch valve lift with 1.8:1 rocker arms.

More views of the COPO engine at Katech.

The NHRA also recently approved a 6-bolt LS7-LSX cylinder head that can be used in place of the COPO’s original 4-bolt LS7 head. The updated heads feature a proprietary CNC-machined COPO port program with max intake port volume of 295cc and a minimum 66cc combustion chamber. The heads also have thicker decks than a stock LS7. They’re fitted with 2.205-inch titanium intake valves, but Katech did replace the hollow-stem steel exhaust valves with 1.615-inch titanium exhaust valves, which is legal since the weight is the same. All valves ride inside PSI beehive valve springs. The LS7 roller rockers received upgraded trunnion bearings before the heads were bolted on top of Fel-Pro MLS head gaskets. Lubricating the engine is charged to a stock pump and 6-quart fabricated aluminum pan from Moroso

There were three engines offered in the 2012 COPO Camaro: 427 naturally aspirated, 327 with 2.9-liter blower and 327 with a 4.0-liter blower. Camaro #008 comes with the bigger supercharger and 172mm throttle body. Providing fuel is an Aeromotive pump rated at 800 lb/hr and 105 lb/hr high-impedance fuel injectors. Controlling the fuel system is an AEM Infinity ECU.

Katech swapped the stock GM ECU for a new Infinity engine-management system from AEM Electronics.

“That’s a very nice race ECU,” adds Pranger. “We got a good calibration down. It’s something JC can put in the car and make a lot of passes.”

With 22 pounds of boost and VP C16 fuel, the engine hit 1,110 horsepower with about 850 lb-ft peak torque. 

“We ran as high as 25 pounds but started getting into trouble,” sums up Pranger. “The original scope was to build a second engine so they can keep the numbers-matching on the shelf. We made it legal and took advantage of some tuning leeways, and we made it durable. Now we can get it down the track a few times, then worry about screwing in a few more horsepower.”

The COPO Camaro was first introduced at the 2011 SEMA Show.

About the author

Mike Magda

Mike Magda is a veteran automotive writer with credits in publications such as Racecar Engineering, Hot Rod, Engine Technology International, Motor Trend, Automobile, Automotive Testing Technology and Professional Motorsport World. He was the editor of four national automotive magazines, including Chevy High Performance, and has authored hundreds of automotive technical briefings. In covering nearly every type of motorsport, Mike has collaborated with many of racing's top engine builders and factory engineers.
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