Every time we see Dexter, "Kimo" Kekua's yellow '68 Camaro SS 396, it just keeps getting better and better. "I can't leave well enough alone," says the CEO of one of Hawaii's largest commercial air conditioning firms. "I just keep thinking up more wild and crazy things I want to do to the car. I guess you could call it therapy for an overly active (and possibly over worked) mind!"
Of course, having one of the 50th state's finest up-and-coming custom car builders as your stepson certainly helps. My stepson Garet Tomita is one of the most conscientious and talented car builders on the island. It isn't right, until he says it's right, and that's just fine with me" says Kekua.
Dexter's Camaro really cooks in both the physical and literal sense of the word. Beneath its Cosmic Airbrush mural and flamed 3-inch Harwood Fiberglass cowl-induction hood you'll find a Garet Tomita and Clement Ching (Atlas Brake & Repair, Honolulu, Hawaii) prepared GM Performance Parts "ZZ502" 502hp crate engine upgraded with items like a Crane cam and kit, a set of Street & Performance polished and prepared Edelbrock Performer rectangular port aluminum heads, a Street & Performance chrome-plated Edelbrock Performer dual-quad intake with twin 650-cfm Edelbrock Performer 4v carburetors and Street & Performance air cleaner, Street & Performance headers and Tomita & Ching 3-inch oval exhaust, a set of Zoops billet-aluminum engine pulleys, and an MSD Pro Billet ignition system. Also along for the ride is a Vintage Air climate control system, Griffin four-core aluminum polished radiator and Richmond Gear 9-DP Heavy Duty Road Race six-speed transmission with long shifter and Center Force dual-friction clutch.
Of course with that kind of power, you need a chassis that woun't twist and flex like a Timex watchband. Up front Dexter's '68 has been outfitted with a set of Global West unequal length upper and lower control A-arms along with a set of GW's patented Del-A-Lum suspension bushings and HAL QA1 coilover front shocks.Out back the '68 features a 3.25:1-geared Currie Enterprises 9+ 9-inch Ford rearend with Hotchkiss Suspension 2-inch lower rear leaf springs and HAL QA1 shocks. Braking comes in the form of a set of Wilwood Engineering 13-inch slotted rotor, four-piston front, and 13-inch slotted rotor six-piston rear disc brakes in the back with billet-aluminum calipers.
Wheels and tires on the '68 come in the form of a set of 17x7-inch front, and 18x10-inch rear Boyd Coddington Osiris billet-aluminum wheels with accent dimples drilled out by Tomita and Ching to accept a set of Genuine Chevrolet Bow-Tie insignia wheel bolts. Tires are Bridgestone S-03 radials, P225/45 x 17-inch front, and P275/40 x 18-inch rear. Dexter's cousin Derek Masada (Masada Fender & Repair, Honolulu, Hawaii) sprayed the '68 in PPG Flaming Yellow with clearcoat. Exterior upgrades to the car also include a billet-aluminum grille built right there at Dexter's shop along with Halogen and LED headlights and taillights front and rear.
"With this car, all the fames are on the inside," says Kimo. The Camaro's black and yellow interior features the handiwork of master upholsterer Bob Arkus. Bob not only stitched up the trick door panels (which also feature window-crank-activated power tinted windows) he also covered the dash with yellow painted inserts. The Kent Itsuka-built console, and the seats in Corvette Black leather and Kat Skin soft yellow.
Other upgrades include Garret Tomita-installed Ron Francis wiring, Bob Arkus-installed black velour headliner, Nordskog "Open Ocean" digital instrumentation, ididit six-way tilt steering and a Budnik billet-aluminum steering wheel, and a JVC audio system with 1,000-watt Zapco trunk-mounted speaker enclosure.
What's Kimo's next project? "I think I'm going to leave the Camaro alone for awhile. I just bought a Dennis Taylor fiberglass '41 Willys convertible which ought to keep myself, and Garet plenty busy for quite some the time to come!"