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Classical Resurrection

After 7 years, our state-of-the-art Camaro is finished!

Terry Cole Aug 29, 2003

If the General had taken this long to create the legendary Camaro, chances are it would have never happened! That being said, there's no question that Super Chevy's Classical Resurrection Camaro was well worth the wait. During its seven years of construction, this First-Generation F-body took on a life of its own, eventually lending itself as a virtual test bed for many aftermarket firms and, in some cases, R&D for new and exciting parts. The original concept for the car, to bring those who haven't followed its evolution up to speed, was to build a First-Gen Camaro to the level of performance--and comfort--of a Fourth-Generation machine. What began as simple upgrades to improve the car's power, handling, braking and driver friendliness ultimately produced a car with a stellar combination of modern appointments, industry firsts and legendary classical character.

The original plans called for taking what was a low-mileage, albeit tired, bare bones Camaro and installing a strong small-block, disc brakes, cool wheels and tires and a host of reproduction items. For power, we started with a crate motor from GM Performance Parts. Rated at 300 hp, the goal to emulate an LT1 Fourth-Gen's 285 ponies was right on target. From there, a Hughes Performance Turbo Hydramatic 350 transmission was included in the blueprint, which was linked to a DTS 12-bolt rearend spinning 3.73 cogs.

Initial suspension upgrades included a set of Wilwood disc brakes on each corner, Tokico gas shocks, Helwig sway bar, and a suspension rebuild kit from PST. Cal Tracs traction bars were also employed early on, but found their way onto another project as the Camaro took shape as more of a g-machine than a quarter-mile racer.

While all of these first upgrades hit the mark, it didn't take long for the car's evolutionary destiny to perpetuate. The first prototype component to find a spot under our project was a set of 2-inch dropped spindles from Superior Spindles. Coupled to these castings was a set of Wilwood's then all-new 12.1-inch drilled and vented rotors. Same-size rear rotors and billet four-piston calipers rounded out the brake system.

It wasn't long before Hotchkis Performance jumped on board the test bed with the company's first offerings of gigantic front and rear sway bars. Rounding out the Camaro's cutting-edge underpinnings are Global West's beefy upper and lower tubular control arms and QA1's tough, fully adjustable coilover shocks. Three-inch dearched rear leaf springs from Eaton supported by aluminum QA1 shocks helps to give this beauty its awesome stance.

Other "firsts" that eventually found their way onto the Classical Resurrection include a US Gear V2OD manually operated 20-percent reduction overdrive unit (which bolts to the tailhousing of the Hughes TH350 and links to the rearend by way of a Denny's chrome-moly driveshaft). Lokar's first attempt at a street-rod style shifter was installed and works perfectly in the Classic Industry's reproduction center console. Flowmaster took advantage of our project by providing their first single muffler dual exhaust system. This fully coated assembly of pipes connects from the Hedman shorty headers to a dual chamber single muffler that's mounted transversely in the stock Camaro location. Our local exhaust guru, The Muffler Man, welded up this cool system and it works perfectly with the car's in-the-weeds attitude.

AGR sent us one of their quick-ratio power steering boxes that links an ididit tilt column to a sharp Budnik leather-wrapped, billet steering wheel. As for rolling stock, 17-inch Budnik Famoso billet wheels spin Toyo high-tech rubber (255-35s in the rear and 215-30s up front).

Interior appointments start with reproduction no-frills vinyl seat coverings and door panels, plus headliner and carpet from Classic Industries and PUI; the interior was crafted by Wanda's Upholstery. Items such as control knobs and the various handles come by way of Classic Industries and D&R Classics. D&R was also extremely helpful when it came to locating hard-to-find items such as brackets and original parts that are yet to be reproduced. Their Camaro experts also provided new side window glass as well as the cowl-induction hood. An original front windshield and rear backlight came by way of Discount Auto Glass in Michigan.

When it came to adding a touch of modernization to the cockpit, Dakota Digital rose to the occasion with a complete set of their cool digital gauges. Included are separate Odyssey II monitors for fuel level, volts, water temp, oil pressure, fuel pressure and boost, as well as the large tach and speedometer. The tach and speedo are mounted in the stock location via a repro bezel from Classic Industries, while the smaller gauges get split into two sections for better viewing: four in the console-mounted pod from Auto Meter and two in a trick one-off carbon fiber-like center bezel designed exclusively for us by John Covan of Covan's classics.

Vintage Air provided one of their custom A/C systems, which utilizes the stock A/C openings. It also features an electronic control panel that fits nicely in the Covan center bezel. Custom Autosound created the entertainment with one of their brand-new Hidden Audio systems, featuring a trunk-mounted 10-disc CD changer and kick-panel-mounted two-way speakers. They also provided a set of their new seatbelts, replete with retractable shoulder harnesses for front seat passengers. Power windows were added from Electric Life, as was a Dakota Digital cruise control system. Shades of late-model comfort, for sure!

Though 300 horses under the factory-style steel cowl hood is more than enough for this cruiser, as hot rodders we sure didn't mind the opportunity to add a few more. With Vortech's help (and our own R&D program), we stepped up the power production by 100 ponies with their first F-body "blow-through" supercharger system. This technically advanced setup (if not gorgeous) uses a Demon 750-cfm carburetor in a box mounted on an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold. With a hair shy of 10 pounds of boost being pushed through the polished aluminum centrifugal huffer, the system required no less than 91 octane fuel (and a healthy dose of tuning from carb guru Bob Vrbancic) to run efficiently, but is a blast when the billet go-pedal from Lokar is mashed to the floor.

Feeding fuel to the hyped-up mouse is the responsibility of the Product Engineering trunk-mounted bypass electric fuel pump. A mix of Russell aluminum and stainless steel braided lines routes the fuel from the reproduction gas tank to the Product Engineering four-port regulator. An MSD BTM boost retard ignition system and small cap billet distributor fires the mix. Cooling is no problem with the components such as a huge four-core aluminum radiator from Fluidyne, Flex-A-Lite electric fan, and Edelbrock aluminum waterpump. Keeping all of the electric components running up to par is the job of the Powermaster 130-amp, one-wire alternator, attached to the supercharger mount by a custom bracket machined by Mr. Vrbancic and adjusted by a Zoops spherical rod adjustment shaft. Pulleys are a mix from Billet Specialties, March, and Vortech. Finishing off the underhood goodies are a remote power steering sump from D&P Performance and a Raybestos 1-inch brake master cylinder. Russell again provided all of the fluid transfer lines.

The beauty of our Classical Resurrection Camaro is definitely not skin deep, as all of the aforementioned components certainly attest to. But there's no doubting that this F-body's skin is exceptionally beautiful. The bodywork is the result of extra care in preparation provided by the Camaro experts at Sal Perez's American Muscle Car paint and body shop. The PPG Hugger Orange and Pearl White stripes were meticulously laid over a super straight assemblage of factory and aftermarket body panels from industry giants D&R Classics, Classic Industries, and National Parts Depot. Sal and his artists attended to every part of the Camaro's outer shell, and the results are one of the straightest First-Gens to come out of his Santee, California, shop ever!

Completing the awesome appearance of this machine are a host of reproduction items from Classic Industries such as the grille, taillight assemblies, bumper, and emblems. (Classic also supplied an incredible amount of small items that were needed to finish the car, like jute padding, package tray, etc.) Totally Stainless provided the fasteners to bolt the entire car together while ARP nuts and bolts are used exclusively on the engine.

As for the job of putting all the pieces together, more hands played a part in the assembly of this car than there is space to mention, but one man, Jim Sleeper of Sleeper Suspension Development, was instrumental in the completion of this long-termer. If it wasn't for Jimbo, this machine may never have made it to the Pomona Super Chevy Show earlier this year.

As you can tell, it's accurate to assume that the entire Camaro aftermarket played a part in creating this great First-Gen g-machine. Many people were instrumental in helping it finally come together. And while we're sure to have fun driving this mix of modern and classic Camaro (and the show-goers will have fun checking it out), we're certain everyone will benefit by knowing that the correct combination of parts can lead to a great classical resurrection like this one.


More power for the GM Performance Parts crate 300-horse 350 came via Vortech's "blow through" centrifugal supercharger system. The huffer pushes nearly 10 pounds of boost through the box-mounted Demon 750-cfm fuel meter. The setup was good for an honest additional 100 ponies.

Project Classical Resurrection was the recipient of many industry "firsts." Some of those included this custom-made center dash bezel and Lokar's street rod-inspired automatic shifter. Note the Dakota Digital gauges and Custom Autosound's Secret Audio perched in the reproduction console from Classic Industries.

Dakota Digital's tach and speedo fit nicely into the Classic Industries repro dash gauge cluster.

A nice touch was the billet pedals from Lokar. With rubber inserts, your foot has a firm feel when hitting the go or whoa pedal.

An MSD 6BTM ignition box is used to fire the supercharged mix. This particular unit gives you the ability to retard the timing from the cockpit in the event that detonation occurs.

Linked by V-belts on the front of the engine is the Edelbrock aluminum water pump, Vortech blower, Vintage Air compressor, AGR power steering pump and a Powermaster 130-amp, one-wire alternator. A combination of pulleys from March Performance, Billet Specialties, and Vortech were used in conjunction with a trick custom billet alternator bracket to make it all work together. Another R&D job from your SUPER CHEVY staffers!

This trick fuel pump/filter combo from Product Engineering delivers the requisite fuel pressure to one of their four-port regulators before entering the box and into the Demon carburetor.

Russell Performance provided all of the fluid transfer lines, fittings, and hoses for our beauty.

The aggressive low stance is what makes this Camaro stand out above (no pun intended) the rest. A combination of Global West tubular A-arms and QA1 coilovers do a nice job of soaking up the bumps. Wilwood 12-inch vented rotors with billet four-piston calipers handle the stopping duties.

While many late-model overdrive transmissions have found their way into First-Gen machines, we can boast about having the first US Gear V2OD manual 20-percent overdrive unit in a Camaro. In fact, we R&D'd the install to help get it to you. Note the excellent fit of the Flowmaster exhaust. However, our Camaro is not immune to common maladies that hit all street machines. A small oil leak at the front of the oil pan found its way onto the pipes.

The very last install to take place on the Classical Resurrection Camaro was this assembly of entertainment and safety components from Custom Autosound. For tunes, we got their newest version of the popular Secret Audio system. Providing safe keeping for the car's occupants is their upgraded seat belt system, replete with retractable shoulder harness.

From a clean stocker to fresh out of the American Muscle Car paint booth...

...the Classical Resurrection Camaro has had an exciting seven-year history.

But the time was well worth the wait as this car turns heads where ever it is taken.


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