The first thing most folks say when they see Jose Lugo’s Rally Yellow 2010 Camaro SS is “Hey, nice Bumblebee!” He usually just smiles and nods politely, but the fact of the matter is that Lugo’s Camaro is not a Transformers Edition 5th Gen at all. Even so, there is still more than meets the eye with this 2010 Camaro SS. At first glance most people would never detect the meticulous attention to detail, the surprising amount of horsepower on tap, and how hard this car actually gets driven on a regular basis. You can forget about a Bumblebee – because this car is a “Killer Bee” in disguise.
Jose Lugo’s Camaro has nothing to do with any block-buster movies, and it certainly isn’t a “Bumblebee”. Instead, this Camaro is a “Killer Bee.”
The Back Story
Lugo grew up in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and picked up his love of American Muscle cars early on. “Many of my older friends had Mach-1 Mustangs, 340 Dusters, big-block Chevelles, and Camaros that were all brought down from the United States,” he tells us. “I would help them work on their cars, and I always wanted one of my own.”
See that red button? That's the control for the exhaust cut-outs, and one of the only hints that something uncivilized might be lurking under the surface of this Camaro.
But before that could happen Lugo joined the U.S. Army in 1988, a decision that took him on a 21 year adventure all around the world. The desire for a muscle car of his own always stayed with him, and in 2006 when Chevrolet revealed the 5th Gen Camaro concept car it became clear what car would finally fit the bill. “As soon as I saw the new Camaro concept I knew that it wasn’t a matter of if I would be getting one, but a matter of when,” Lugo says with a smile. He retired from the US Army in 2009, just in time to finally take ownership of his bright new Rally Yellow 2010 Camaro 2SS/RS.
Lugo bought Killer Bee in the fall of 2009, and the car could be among the first 5th Gens that rolled off the assembly line.
Let the Modding Begin…
The only time the car was completely stock was during the drive from the dealership to my house. -Jose Lugo
Lugo wasted no time making the new Camaro his own. In fact, he started ordering parts for the car even before the keys were in his hands. “The only time the car was completely stock was during the drive from the dealership to my house,” he laughs. Now, just over three years later, the Killer Bee has a perfect mix of both show and go modifications that are constantly put to the test (You’ll see what we mean shortly.)
So is Killer Bee a show car, a daily driver, or a street/strip beast? The truth is that it’s all three.
Killer Bee’s exterior modifications start with a number of ZL1 aero upgrades. The side skirts and front grille are OEM ZL1 parts, while the front chin spoiler is a ZL1-inspired piece from RPI Designs. The lower front grille is from Street Scene, and the top of the bumper has been blacked out with vinyl to give the upper grille more depth. Beyond that, there are a million other subtle touches that Lugo has added, like painting the rear chrome taillight bezels black, removing all the Camaro badging, and adding three-dimensional carbon fiber Bowties and SS overlays. He even went as far as hand-dying the stitching on the seats yellow to match the rest of the car – now that is some serious attention to detail.
To balance out all the bright yellow, Lugo opted for a set of MMR EuroTek wheels in a classy satin black finish, measuring 20 x 8.5 in the front and 20 x 10 in out back. A set of grippy 245/45/20 and 275/40/20 Nitto Motivo tires finish out the aggressive look and keep the big Camaro glued to the road. The car’s great stance is courtesy of a set of Eibach lowering springs mounted on 1LE monotube shocks.
Killer Bee is packed with subtle personal touches that show a real attention to detail.
So how exactly can show modifications like these be “put to the test”? Well, the real kicker here is that Killer Bee is Lugo’s daily driver. The Camaro is the exact opposite of a garage queen and gets driven literally every single day, rain or shine. Somehow, some way Lugo manages to still keep the Camaro looking this sharp all the time.
So Killer Bee definitely looks the part, but does it have the power to back it up? In a word – yes. It absolutely does. Lugo carefully planned his engine modifications to maximize the LS3’s incredible potential without diving too far into the engine or destroying its reliability. It is, after all, a driver first and foremost.
Don’t let the ultra-clean appearance of the engine bay fool you – this thing makes plenty of horsepower…
Even so, adding a streetable custom grind cam from COMP was the first order of business, specing in at 227/239 duration, .629/.623 lift, with a 114 LSA. Letting the engine breathe better was addressed with an Airaid MXP cold air intake, a set of Doug Thorley long-tube headers, an off-road Y-pipe, and a set of Pypes Pype-Bomb mufflers. Finer details include an SLP underdrive pulley system, a ported stock throttle body, cabin-activated electronic exhaust cut-outs, and a full dyno tune performed by 21st Century Muscle Cars.
The car's power upgrades include a custom COMP camshaft, Doug Thorley long tubes, SLP pulleys, a ported throttle body, and an Airaid MXP intake.
Now for the bottom line. The relatively mild Killer Bee has laid down as much as 475 horsepower and 430 pound feet of torque at the rear wheels. Not bad for what amounts to a daily-driven show car, don’t you think?
Deceptive Displays of Power
Killer Bee still has even more tricks up its sleeve. It’s not just a powerful daily driver/show car, but it’s also an incredibly respectable race car in its own right. Lugo tracks the Camaro often – and hard. Just about every weekend you can find him thrashing Killer Bee down the quarter mile at a Friday night test and tune, competing in a Saturday night shoot-out, or trekking across the great State of Texas in the car to participate in some other Camaro related race event.
The Camaro’s suspension is set up for drag racing abuse thanks to lower control arms, toe-control-arms, and a heavy duty competition sway bar all from Spohn Performance. A very serious Monster Stage III clutch transfers the power through to an Eaton Detroit Truetrac helical-gear posi and a set of steeper 1LE 3.91 gears. When you’ve gone this far, it doesn’t make sense to mess around with silly street tires, so Lugo bolts up a set of 315/35/20 Nitto NT05R drag radials at the track. Heck, the car even has a line-lock for easier warm up burnouts.
This car is far from a garage queen. Lugo loves nothing more than to take it out the drag strip and give it a proper flogging.
As you might already suspect, Lugo has made a habit of finding and exploiting the weakest link in the driveline. He’s broken several axles and even the driveshaft yoke on his frequent drag strip excursions. Like we said, he drives this thing like he’s mad at it and certainly doesn’t hold anything back.
Killer Bee testing the line-lock at Little River Dragway in central Texas. (Click pics to enlarge.)
As of press time for this article, Lugo’s best ET in Killer Bee is 12.07 at 114.8 MPH. That’s more than enough to get the best of almost any stock ZL1, modified 4th Gen, or C5 Z06 that might line up against it. Lugo tells us that with the recent driveline modifications the car should easily be in the mid-high 11s.
The Final Gear…
Lugo’s bright yellow Killer Bee is certainly no sleeper, but it is one of those cars that can truly deceive you once you think you’ve got it all figured out. It’s obviously a nice example of a 5th Gen Camaro, but you have to look very closely to see just how much attention to detail has actually gone into this car. It’s just all the more impressive that this car is a full-time daily driver. You might not expect it to have the amount of power that it does, and there’s a good chance that you’d never pick it out as a solid high-11 second drag strip hero. But it’s like we said – there’s more than meets the eye with Killer Bee.