Muscle cars will always have a special place in the hearts of American car enthusiasts. The return of the Chevrolet Camaro was cause for celebration for many gear heads, and it was a gauntlet thrown down at the feet of car tuners the world over. And that’s where the Hennessey Camaro HPE650 comes into the pictures. The 650 represents the horsepower. Yep, that’s going to be one quick car.
The engine of the HPE650 is, at its heart, the same as that of the standard Camaro SS, an LS3 V8. Hennessey then added a huge Magnuson supercharger, a new high flow fuel injection system, a new exhaust to minimize back pressure, and some custom ECU tuning to optimize the engine’s performance. The end result is the aforementioned 650 horsepower at the crank.
However, dyno testing of the car’s actual performance, shows that the engine is actually a bit more powerful than it first seems. The 650 rating means that that is the amount of power a the crankshaft of the engine. Once the power travels down through the transmission, drive shaft, differentials, and wheels, the final power output, called wheel horsepower, generally drops by about 15% versus the crank horsepower. So, with a 650 horsepower crank rating, one would expect the HPE650 to put out between 520 and 550 horsepower at the wheel. Some examples of the car actually tested at 612 wheel horsepower, meaning that with proper tuning the engine actually produces about 770 horsepower at the crank.
Power for the sake of power isn’t necessarily such a great thing, though. Yeah, it may sound great to make a car that has 1,000 horsepower, but the actual mechanical reinforcement necessary to put that power onto the road is immense. If the suspension, differential, and tires are not working perfectly well together, you’ll end up spinning the wheels when you apply even the slightest pressure to the accelerator. And that’s where the HPE650 shows how special it really is. Yes, the 650+ horsepower is impressive, but keeping it under control is even more so.
0 to 60 mph takes a mere 3.7 seconds, which is European supercar territory, a space not normally occupied by American muscle. The car hits 100 mph in 7.9 seconds, again on par with supercars, and the HPE650 can do a standing quarter mile drag race in 11.9 seconds with a speed of 121 mph. The application of power is pretty seamless, though there is some inevitable tire spinning. One thing that would definitely help the HPE650 is better rubber. Some high performance street sport tires could do wonders for grip.
And that extra grip would help the HPE in the corners. Considering the massive power and the muscle car’s reputation as not being particularly nimble, it isn’t anyy surprise that the HPE650 isn’t great in the corners. Now, it should be noted that the HPE650′s cornering performance and agility is pretty top notch when compared to other muscle cars. A specially tuned suspension makes sure of that. However, when you put supercar-level power into a car, you really should have supercar-level handling.
The 2010 Hennessey Camaro HPE650 is, at its most basic, the ultimate essence of muscle cars. An immensely powerful V8, great straight-line performance, a mighty, throaty roar, and mean looks. Granted, the looks haven’t changed much from the standard Camaro, barring a few customer accents, but the stock model is such a looker anyway, there’s not much to improve. The HPE650 also has the limitations one would expect of a muscle car. It’s not exactly practical as an everyday car, especially for those who live in places that get snow (650+ horsepower, rear wheel drive, and snow definitely do not mix). And, as mentioned earlier, going through the corners isn’t the best. But it’s still a great muscle car, and, if you can afford it (prices range between $60,000-75,000), it’s a great toy. Or, you can wait a little while longer for the Hennessey HPE700. This features the LS1 engine from a Corvette shoehorned under the Camaro’s hood and, you guessed it, 700+ horsepower.