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1968 Chevy Camaro - Open - Minded

Lane Ochi's '68 Camaro

Bob Mehlhoff Jan 19, 2007

Drop the top, turn on the tunes, and nail the throttle. It's a California automotive lifestyle that's echoed nationwide. For many, this tradition is realized in some sort of new, store-bought, or blister-packed showroom convertible that's been convincingly marketed as what-to-like, the latest rage, or the new cool. But for a select group of real car guys, a car clearly demonstrating a true wow-factor is uniquely created with a subtle and intentional theme-and is never mass-produced. Essentially, these works of art are transformed from a select group of vintage musclecars with a variety of pasts. The short list of available automotive core candidates numbers cars that have suffered misguided restorations, models priced past the stratosphere in lackluster condition, and a few good examples at reasonable prices. Consequently, successfully finding the right car to transform is challenging and calendar-consuming and requires optimistic open-mindedness.

Five years ago, Lane Ochi decided to compose his own style of musclecar that would be fun to drive, handle like a slot car, and accelerate at heart-stopping speed. His prerequisites were an early-Camaro body style, minimal rust, reasonable condition, and most of all, a convertible top. To fulfill his search he asked many who visited his Beverly Hills dental office during the day and spent his weekends looking throughout the state for serious leads. Three years elapsed and Lane still couldn't find the right car to begin. One day, an office repairman who'd told him of a '68 Camaro at the beginning of his search asked if he had ever found the Camaro he wanted. Ochi explained, "No, I've searched everywhere and have found nothing." The repairman replied frankly, "You never went to look at my friend's '68 Camaro and it's still for sale." With not many leads left, Lane agreed and went out to survey the car. He couldn't believe what he saw. The convertible Camaro was in really good shape, had a healthy 327, and was easily worth the price. He immediately bought the car and thanked the seller-and the office repairman for changing his frame of mind.

With his new treasure back at home, Lane decided to give it a glistening but understated outward hue. So he trans-ported the car to the guys at Boyd's Paint and Body, where they stripped the sheetmetal bare and applied generous coats of PPG silver paint. Over the shining silver they added Z28-style stripes in gloss black. With the paint finished, he turned his attention inside, where he added new houndstooth material to the original seats for comfort and a killer stereo system for listening enjoyment.

Underneath the Camaro he installed massive sway bars and BFGoodrich tires onto factory Rally wheels for improved handling. Then a full set of SSBC four-wheel disc brakes replaced the stock binders for shorter stopping distances. Now the Camaro looked just like he wanted-and handled and braked even better.

Although the stout 327 ran well, it just didn't have the steam to blast past every would-be encounter. "Ah," he thought, "this thing needs a big and mean motor to nicely remind some of the Beverly Hills car guys what the back of a '68 Camaro looks like." For that added power, Ochi contracted B&N Custom Rods in Canyon Country, California, to assemble a very capable 388ci small-block. Inside the balanced and blue-printed engine you'll find JE 10.7:1 forged pistons, a COMP Cams hydraulic-roller camshaft with 0.520/0.540-inch lift, Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads, and an 800-cfm Holley carburetor with mechanical secondaries. The combination produces about 500 neck-snapping horses. To transmit the raw power, he added a modified 700-R4 overdrive automatic from Bow Tie Overdrives coupled to a TCI 10-inch Street Fighter converter. And to put all this power to the ground, the stock 10-bolt rear axle assembly is fitted with an Eaton posi unit and 3.73 gears.

Today you may find Lane cruising the sunny streets of Southern California in his ragtop. Pull alongside this meticulously built Camaro and you'll notice the attention to detail, mile-deep paint, and a thumping 388-inch small-block. It's a blast to drive, and he takes it out more than a few times a week. For those of the Sunset Boulevard crowd willing to go throttle-to-throttle with him, remember what may happen very quickly may open your mind.

Speed Reading
Lane Ochi
'68 Camaro
La Crescenta, CA

Type: Chevy small-block
Block: Cast iron, 4.060-inch bore, four-bolt main caps, 388ci
Crankshaft: Eagle 4340-forged steel, 3.750-inch stroke
Connecting Rods: Eagle I-beam 6-inch
Oiling: Milodon 7-quart pan
Pistons: JE, 10.7:1 compression
Built by: B&N Custom Rods (Canyon Country, CA)
Cylinder Heads: Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum w/64cc chambers
Camshaft: COMP Cams roller hydraulic, 0.520-intake, 0.540exhaust, 236/ 242 duration at 0.050-inch lift
Induction: Edelbrock Air Gap intake manifold, Holley 800-cfm carburetor w/mechanical secondaries
Exhaust: Patriot headers, custom X-pipe system, three-chamber Flowmaster mufflers
Machine work by: Performance Automotive Warehouse (PAW)
Transmission: Bow Tie Overdrives 700-R4, TCI 10-inch torque converter
Rear Axle: stock 8.20-inch 10-bolt w/Eaton posi unit and 3.73:1 gears
Suspension: polygraphite bushings, KYB shocks front & rear,Performance Suspension Technology sway bar
Steering: factory power-steering gear
Brakes: Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation front and rear discs
Wheels: 15x7 Chevrolet Rally front and rear
Tires: BFGoodrich P215/65R15 front, P235/60R15 rear
Body: Boyd's Body and Paint (Tujunga, CA)
Paint: PPG GM silver and black
Interior:houndstooth by Sardo's (La Crescenta, CA)



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