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Camaro ZL1 AFCO heat exchanger 80281 appliedspeed.com


"A heat exchanger is a device used to transfer heat between a solid object and a fluid..."




In automotive heat exchangers are used primarily to cool water and oil. For those of us with an eye on performance whether for racing, towing, or just in search of the better grin factor heat exchangers are installed on vehicles with superchargers. With cars such as your Camaro ZL1 that is equipped with a supercharger, heat exchangers are upgraded with a more noble goal in mind than just cooling water and oil.

Water to air heat exchangers are used on engines equipped with superchargers where water flows through the cooler and air flows through the fins. The cool water then flows to the core under the blower where the core cools the intake air. Shown here is an AFCO part number 80283 heat exchanger for GM’s Camaro ZL1.


80283 camaro afco heat exchanger appliedspeed.com










 80283PRO afco camaro heat exchanger appliedspeed.com

Some AFCO upgrade heat exchangers also come with Spal dual fans like this 80283PRO. Drag racers and autocross racing have reported improved times due to the cooling effect of the dual Spal electric fans at lower speeds. The Camaro Supercharger adds a lot of power to the ZL1 motor by boosting the air intake pressure. That pressure creates heat that must be removed with a heat exchanger to reach maximum efficiency. The unit comes complete with Spal fans, instructions, and the wiring harness. PN 80283PRO

 Camaro engine afco heat exchanger appliedspeed.com

As supercharger pressures increase so does the temperature of the intake charge. This image of a Camaro ZL1 supercharger shows the need for an upgrade heat exchanger as it depicts how crowded and hot things get under the hood. Fortunately, installing a heat exchanger does not require any work on the engine.


 Intercoolers and heat exchangers serve the same purpose. Both cool the compressed intake charge before the engine ingests it. Intercoolers are primarily used to cool the intake air on engines equipped with turbochargers, while heat exchangers cool the intake air for engines fitted with superchargers. The two terms have become interchangeable with "heat exchanger" being used predominantly for superchargers. Both improve the fun factor behind the wheel, and they help reduce the numbers on the stopwatch or the timing slip.

There are two types of heat exchangers for automotive and truck use. The air to air type and the water to air. In the first variant, the intake air runs through the heat exchanger where it is cooled by the air that flows through it. In the second alternative, a pump forces water through the heat exchanger where the water is cooled. The water pumps water into the core situated under the supercharger where the intake air flows through.

Water to air heat exchangers are much more efficient, they are easier to package they do not “heat soak” as readily as the air to air type, and they are ideal for daily driving. Drag racers and autocross drivers have experienced great results with upgrade water to air coolers.



 AFCO Racing, a company long known for its involvement in NASCAR and Open Wheel racing, is always at the forefront of improvements in performance and racing. The Boonville, Indiana, racing parts manufacturer produces US-made solutions for custom aftermarket upgrade heat exchangers for several American vehicles. The company has found that the stock coolers have limitations. Those limitations affect the coolers’ effectiveness at reducing the intake air temperature and the induced loss of performance where they allow the temperature to reach unacceptable levels. When using a car for track days or in drag racing, or solo and autocross those limitations can be overcome with the installation of an AFCO aftermarket heat exchanger. The AFCO heat exchangers, available through APPLIEDSPEED.COM, the e-commerce site, can be purchased with Spal electric fans (the “PRO” series) that prevent heat soak and provide constant cooling over the stock units. 

Q: What power improvements are available for my Camaro ZL1 supercharger?

A: Upgrade to a heat exchanger from AFCO part number 80283.

Switching to an AFCO Racing heat exchanger from APPLIEDSPEED.COM is affordable, quick to install with basic hand tools and it can improve power by 7 to 10% over the stock GM unit.

AFCO's upgrade heat exchangers for Camaro ZL1s are 3 times thicker than stock and they have 350% more surface area. This cools the water up to 70 degrees more. AFCO laser cuts the aluminum and it uses TIG welded construction. The double pass design is capped by a fully welded separator plate that completely bypasses the second section of the cooler. When this plate is not fully welded, a substantial amount of water bypasses the plate and it does not fully complete the cycle.

Replace your old factory heat exchanger in your Camaro ZL1 and increase intake cooling efficiency with this new replacement heat exchanger from AFCO. These heat exchangers can lower coolant temperature up to 25° F. These heat exchangers are laser cut aluminum TIG welded construction with a double pass design and dual row 1" tube core.

Engines are nothing more than air pumps. And that is the source of their limitation. Changing to a ”better” camshaft will only allow the engine to take in more air. A free-flowing exhaust system will allow the exhaust to scavenge its exhaust more efficiently. Still, engines are limited to how much power they produce by the amount of air they can pump. Even the most sophisticated engines are only 25 to 30 % efficient. In other words, they only put out a small percentage of the power they can theoretically produce. The best we can do is minimize those losses. Supercharging an engine is probably the best method available these days to boost power and torque, and improve the fun factor. But, here again, artificially aspirated engines produce some losses that we can recoup.

AFCO's 80283 heat exchangers are three times thicker than the factory units. This is one of the reasons that these coolers cool 350% better than the original ones. The other major difference with AFCO’s unit compared to the manufacturer is the addition of dual electric 10-inch diameter SPAL fans. The fans improve cooling at all speeds. This feature bodes well with drag racers, autocrossers, track day drivers, and all around performance guys.

The more air (and of course along with the proper ratio of fuel) that we pump into an engine the greater the power the engine will produce. Without the use of forced induction, a normally aspirated engine can only rely on the 14.7 PSI of atmospheric pressure that nature provides to push the air into the engine. For every increase of 14.7 PSI the engine will theoretically produce 100% more power. So, if a normally aspirated motor puts out 400 horsepower and we add a compressor that delivers 14.7 PSI of boost, theoretically, the engine will now make 800 horsepower. Losses will occur from the heat inherited from the pressure increase, the ignition timing, and fuel injection adjustments the ECU will make to compensate for the hotter intake charge. Some additional losses are due to mechanical drives and friction. The purpose of a supercharger heat exchanger is to reduce those losses by lowering the intake temperature to as low a degree possible.

Boyle's law graph appliedspeed.comCharle's Law dictates that the temperature of any gas is directly proportional to its pressure. As such, if the ambient air temperature is let’s say, 70 degrees, and the air is further compressed by the supercharger to an additional 14.7 PSI the intake charge will now reach 140 degrees.***

Also, there will be the heat absorbed from the engine compartment and the supercharger itself. The greater the temperature delta between intake and combustion, the greater the power the engine can make. Additionally, a hot intake charge will affect the ignition timing and the electronic fuel injection, further reducing the power output. Heat exchangers (and intercoolers) do not make power; they recover the energy lost in the heat created when the intake air was compressed.


 NASCAR standout, Smokey Yunick”, stated in his books: “Each ten degree of temperature reduction equals from one to one and a half percent in horsepower increase.”












Graphics of Charles' Law describes the effect of temperature on volume. A heat exchanger or an intercooler reduces the temperature and the volume of the intake. AFCO's upgrade heat exchangers are 3 times larger than the stock GM unit so it cools far better than the stock unit. 

 A supercharger heat exchanger is like an engine water radiator but in reverse. With an engine radiator, the air cools the water. With a supercharger heat exchanger, the water cools the air that is being pumped into the engine by the supercharger or turbo.


Several automobile and truck manufacturers currently use heat exchangers to cool their supercharged vehicles’ engines. GM mounted heat exchangers on their supercharged ZL1 Camaros, Cadillac CTS-Vs, and Corvette C7 Z06s. Ford installed heat exchangers on their 2003 and 2004 Mustang Cobras and 2007 to 2012 Shelby GT500s. Many racers use Ford trucks to tow their race cars to the track. There, the Ford guys have equipped their1999 to 2004 F-150 Lightning/Harley Davidson trucks with heat exchangers. Further, Ford also installed heat exchangers on their 2010 to 2014 Supercharged F-15 Raptors. Upgraded AFCO Racing heat exchangers for all those vehicles are available from APPLIEDSPEED.COM.

double pass radiator appliedspeed.com

The model 80283PRO AFCO heat exchanger for Camaros is of the double pass design. This design has been used extensively with radiators in NASCAR  and open wheel racing for several years. The design causes the air to pass through the cooler twice and to swirl within the tubes to optimize the cooling and volume of the air intake. The large size of the heat exchanger prevents any pressure loss compared to the stock units.The double pass design is capped by a fully welded separator plate that completely bypasses the second section of the cooler. When this plate is not fully welded, a substantial amount of water bypasses the plate and it does not fully complete the cycle.


AFCO comparison o the thisckness of intercoolers to factory GM

 AFCO's heat exchangers,    intercoolers, are 3 times thicker than the factory variant. This yields 350%  more cooling capacity for an additional 25 degrees drop over the stock unit. Fully TIG welded and no epoxy is used anywhere on the heat exchangers.




A liquid to air heat exchanger holds cooling fluid in a small tank, independent of the primary engine cooling system. A pump circulates the fluid through the cooler installed just ahead of the main radiator exposed to air flowing into the cowling. The fluid then flows to the core beneath the supercharger where it cools the intake air. The fluid then returns to the reservoir.


The AFCO/APPLIEDSPEED.com coolers main features:

  • 350% greater surface area
  • Increased volume
  • Superior heat efficiency
  • Race core construction
  • Three to four times thicker than the stock units


The units come with full instructions, and they require no modifications.



Intercooling appeared during World War 2 when engineers introduced superchargers to fighter aircraft in search of additional power and speed. The planes sported twin turbochargers with a cooler between the two units; hence the term “intercooler.” The name stuck for automotive use but mainly with air to air intercooler. In 1942 the American aircraft manufacturer, North American Aviation, began the production of the Pursuit airplane named Mustang Model 51. The Mustang’s engine was a powerful Rolls Royce Merlin V12 that produced 1000 horsepower. To reduce the air intake temperature these engines used water cooled heat exchangers to save space and air drag. The variance in the cooling process introduced the term of “heat exchanger” for the water-cooled radiators.**


Where did GM come up with the name “Camaro”? GM has claimed the name Camaro stood for a small animal that ate mustangs. But the following explanation is probably closer to the truth. When Chevy began design of the project car that would hopefully eat Mustangs the marketing guys were looking for a name that did not have a clear meaning but that stood for something, and that was memorable. Chevy would eventually admit that the name was found in a French-English dictionary to mean “friend, pal, or comrade. OK, “camarade” in French slang could be camar’o. Right, if you knew French slang from before the automobile was invented. So why not Daddy’o? While the name CAMARO is memorable, its meaning is still a mystery to most people. But now you know.



“At appliedspeed.com, we found AFCO’s heat exchangers equipped with the twin Spal fans most useful in Solo and Autocross events where speeds can get very low.” Jean Genibrel, Publisher, Appliedspeed.com


The ZL1 Camaro, with its 6.2-liter supercharged LSA motor and its 580 horsepower and 556 pound-feet of drive-shaft-twisting-torque is the most powerful Camaro that Chevrolet ever produced. But there is always some room to make more power or, as in the case of our heat exchangers we should say to gain maximum power from the boost by minimizing the losses from heat.

Many possible modifications can be done to squeeze some more power out of the LSA. Probably one of the least expensive and most beneficial is to drop a more efficient heat exchanger like one from the AFCO 80283 “PRO” series the front of your Camaro. The stock heat exchangers in the Camaros, Cadillac CTS-V, Corvettes are only about one-inch thick, single pass. The AFCO coolers produce huge gains over the stock entities due to their double pass design and their 3-inch width.

The stock heat exchangers in the Camaro and the Mustang, Cadillac CTS-V, Corvette, Ford Raptor and Lightning truck are only about one-inch thick, and they are single-pass. AFCO’s heat exchangers are nearly 3 inches wide, and they are double-pass.


“N” means no fans

“B” indicates a black thermal coating

“DP” stands for “dual pass.”

“PRO” the cooler comes equipped with twin Spal electric fans


Camaro 2010 to 2015SS and 2012 to 2015 ZL1= PN80283

APPLIEDSPEED.com and AFCO RACING offer heat exchanger upgrades to cool the excess heat created by the supercharger of your Camaro ZL1 (P/N 80283PRO). This cooler is designed purposely for the ZL1 Camaro to replace the stock unit and it comes with two Spal electric fans already installed. Some intercoolers from other manufacturers are “universal” and not purpose-built for a particular application. Ordering this part number from APPLIEDSPEED.COM ensures you will receive a part that will fit perfectly in your Camaro, it will come with instructions for easy installation, and it will install without modifications, except for a single hole in the Camaro cowling.


Comparing AFCO’s heat exchanger versus the factory ZL1 Heat Exchanger the dual ten-inch SPAL fans are most efficient at lower ground speeds when we’re off-peak boost coming down from a run.  – Eric Saffell, AFCO



Parts List (80283NDP) CAMARO ZL1

  • Heat exchanger (Qty. 1)
  • Zip tie (Qty. 2)
  • Spacer .40” diameter (Qty. 4)
  • Spacer 1.00” diameter (Qty. 4)
  • Blue grommet (Qty. 4)
  • M8 x 1.25 x 50mm bolt (Qty. 4)
  • M8 x 1.25 Nylock nut (Qty. 4)
  • M8 x 24mm Washer (Qty. 8)
  • #12 Hose clamp (Qty. 2)
  • Lit-716 Installation manual (Qty. 1)


Tools Needed

  • 7mm Socket
  • 10mm Socket
  • 13mm Socket
  • 1/4” Drive ratchet
  • 1/4” Extension
  • 10mm Wrench
  • 13mm Wrench
  • 5/16” Drill bit
  • Torx head screwdriver
  • Socket and wrench to remove lug nuts
  • 5/16” Transfer punch


The stock heat exchanger is only one inch thick, and it is a single pass. On hot days or under heavy throttle the cooler has a hard time keeping up. The Appliedspeed.com 80283 PRO unit maintains maximum cooling under all conditions even in racing and repeated full throttle applications due to its 350% additional cooling area over the stock variant.




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