JESSY HORTON RETURNS TO HIS ROOTS TO BUILD A FIRE-BREATHING 10-SECOND ’10 CAMARO
By Justin Cesler
Photography by Justin Cesler
Every project, no matter how large or small, is inspired by something different. For some of us, builds are inspired by things we see at shows, on the pages of magazines, or online. For others, ideas for projects come from different places. Some draw inspiration from art, others from hobbies, and some from just pure imagination. For Jessy Horton, his latest project drew inspiration from both his job as a firefighter in Abilene, Texas, and from his childhood, where he grew up building a first-generation Camaro with his father.
“When I was 14 years old, my father showed up at the house with a beat up, rusted out, no motor P.O.S. Even though the car wasn’t much to look at, my father gave me a board file, a gallon of Bondo, a ballpeen hammer, and a single car garage. For the next two years I spent my weekends and nights learning to fix dents, install wiring, and step by step build my first car.” In the end, Jessy and his father had built a one-of-a-kind ’68 Camaro and Jessy drove the car throughout high school until life got in the way of his hobby and he was forced to sell it. That’s “a moment in life I wish I could have changed,” said Jessy, “I look back on that car, but most importantly I look back at the times spent with my father.” Time passed, cars came and went, and eventually, Jessy was ready to build another project.
And, when it came time to build another car, it didn’t take Jessy very long to decide on a foundation. “At first I wanted to find another ’68 Camaro, but when I saw the concept car for the new Camaro, I was hooked.” So hooked, in fact, that Jessy decided then and there that the ’10 Camaro would be his, and after a long wait and a large deposit, Jessy was finally able to pick up his Red Jewel SS in October of 2009. “The day I went to the dealership to buy the car I remember the salesman handing me the keys and saying ‘go easy now, you need to get the feel for a car like this.’” Silly salesman... “Once I got there, I floored it and shifted through a few gears and knew that this was the car for me. I looked over at the salesman who was clawing the interior and pushing his hands into the headliner. Yep, I knew this was the car for me!” And, as always, the speed was good for a little while, as were the looks, but for a lifelong muscle car enthusiast, stock just wasn’t going to work out for very long.
“Within a few months I began to customize the car.” And just like his first project, Jessy dug into this one right along side his father. “Side by side with my father we learned how to take apart the car...” At first, the young apprentice and experienced body man took it easy, installing a Suncoast Creations Z-style hood along with some tasteful stripes, and then a new GM Heritage grill. Next, it was time to swap out the wheels, and Jessy drew from a different page than most, opting to install a set of 20-inch Axis Zero wheels wrapped in Continental DWS tires for an extremely modern and aggressive appearance. “Next, I wanted more power.” Being from Texas, Jessy had a plethora of excellent shops to choose from and after an extensive search, Jessy found Andy Mages, owner and lead technician at ADM Performance. “After talking with him, I knew my car was in good hands.” The newly formed team went back and forth, with Jessy asking and Andy answering “all my damn questions,” until a solid game plan was formed for a reliable and powerful combination that Jessy could take anywhere and enjoy in any scenario.
For power, ADM Performance started by building a solid foundation, choosing to first fortify the LS3 engine before turning up the wick. Tearing apart the low mileage engine may seem a little extreme to some, but when you want drive-it-anywhere reliability and 10-second track times, it’s definitely the right move. Down low, ADM outfitted Jessy’s LS3 with a set of stock diameter Manley forged aluminum pistons, and a set of matching Manley 4340 forged steel connecting rods, all swung around the stock LS3 crankshaft. Up top, it was all about airflow, with ADM taking the stock LS3 heads apart before setting them up in the CNC machine for a quality port job and the installation of a set of 2.165-inch hollow stem intake valves and heavy-duty Inconel 1.59-inch exhaust valves. Those big valves are commanded by an extremely well designed ADM Performance stage 2.5 blower camshaft and ride below the stock rocker arms and a set of upgraded springs.
Did we say Stage 2.5 blower cam? We sure did, and that’s because the next modification, after dropping the engine back in the bay, was a chrome Magnuson TVS 2300 supercharger system, which was setup by ADM to make just a little over 10 pounds of boost through an upgraded air-to-water intercooler. The forced air flows out through a pair of American Racing Headers 2-inch long-tubes and into a 3-inch Magnaflow exhaust, and makes enough steam to lay down 650-rwhp and 625 lb-ft of torque on the dyno. To support the big number, Jessy fortified the rest of the Camaro drivetrain, having Andy install a Lingenfelter twin-disc clutch, a ’12 ZL1 driveshaft, and an ADM ZL1 rear end conversion complete with 3.73 gears and the factory equipped ZL1 differential. And while that may seem like a perfect way to wrap up the build, “I just couldn’t stop there...” So, Jessy kept his Camaro under the knife, installing a set of Pfadt 1-inch lowering springs, Pfadt sway bars, BMR subframe connectors, and a G1 Camaro tunnel brace, along with upgraded 6-piston CTS-V brakes that were powder coated by ADM to really set off the entire installation.
“With the new power, I wanted to personalize the car. I wanted to do something to the car that was tasteful, yet unique... I just didn’t know which way to go with it.” Luckily, Jessy’s dad has great taste and years of body work experience, and drawing of of Jessy’s love of firefighting, he suggested he add some flames to his Camaro for the ultimate show to go with his newfound power. “At first I was thinking I didn’t want old school flames on a new era hot rod. But my father corrected me in saying ‘no, we mean real flames... like real fire!’ I was interested now...” It was at this point that Jessy stepped up from the typical fast street Camaro to a real showstopper, thanks to a paint shop partnership between his father at Southwest Paint and Collision and Chance Woodlee at Eagle Eye Custom Paint. Both inside and out, the duo worked to tie in the real fire with the Red Jewel paint, and the results speak for themselves. “The car has become part of my family again. I now have a car that allowed me to spend time with my father again and one he can also drive and enjoy... It’s more than just a car, it’s what a Camaro was meant to be.”
CAR: 2010 Camaro SS
OWNER: Jessy Horton
BLOCK: LS3, 376cid
COMPRESSION RATIO: 11.0:1
HEADS: LS3, CNC-ported by ADM Performance, 2.165 intake, 1.590 exhaust valves
CAM: ADM Performance Stage 2.5 hydraulic roller, 215/247 duration at .050, .629/.656 inches of lift, 121 LSA
ROCKER ARMS: Stock LS3, 1.7-ratio
PISTONS: Manley, forged
CRANKSHAFT: Stock, nodular iron
RODS: Manley, billet steel I-beam
THROTTLE BODY: LS3 90mm, ported by ADM
FUEL INJECTORS: 63 lb/hr
FUEL PUMP: ADM Performance, in-tank
IGNITION: Stock coil-near-plug
ENGINE MANAGEMENT: Stock, tuned by Andy Mages at ADM Performance
POWER ADDER: Magnuson TVS 2300 supercharger
INTERCOOLER: ADM Performance/Magnuson liquid-to-air
EXHAUST SYSTEM: American Racing 2-inch long-tube headers, 3-inch X-pipe, Magnaflow mufflers
CLUTCH: Lingenfelter twin-disc
DRIVESHAFT: GM ZL1
FRONT SUSPENSION: Pfadt lowering springs, sway bar, stock shocks, lower control arms
REAR SUSPENSION: Pfadt lowering springs, sway bar, stock shocks, lower control arms
REAR END: GM ZL1, 3.73 gear, ZL1 axles, ZL1 differential
BRAKES: ADM Performance 6-piston front, 4-piston rear
FRONT WHEELS: Axis Zero 20x8.5
REAR WHEELS: Axis Zero 20x10.5
FRONT TIRES: Continental DWS 275/45/20
REAR TIRES: Continental DWS 315/35/20