Hear the powerful rumble of an LS1 stroker engine, churning at highway rpm in sixth gear, as the road ahead winds about in the central Texas hill country. The T-tops removed, wind blowing in your hair. Tunes cranked up on the radio, but not so loud that the radar detector is inaudible. The smell of hot asphalt mixes with the occasional whiff of exhaust fumes. Sunglasses pulled down to better enhance your clarity at higher-than-posted speeds. Quick downshifts and bursts of wide-open throttle to get around the slower people in their daily commuting appliances. Knowing the gas station clerks on a first name basis, yet hopefully not meeting the local officers along your route. Chomping down on fast food and chugging energy drinks. Dodging roadkill. These are some of the best times of our gearhead lives, spent driving our hot rods. Some guys build cars to polish and buff them, but Michael Dietze built his 2001 Camaro SS to blaze the highways.
Michael's story starts out just like many of ours do. He was in high school and daydreamed about someday owning a V-8 Camaro. About a year after he graduated, he bought this Camaro SS brand-new in Austin, Texas. At the time, it only had 12 miles on it. It was originally black, and the only SLP options were chrome SS wheels, floor mats, and the infamous Y2Y "dual-dual" catback. The Camaro ran a 13.2 e.t. at the local dragstrip while it was showroom stock. Later on, with the addition of an off-road Y-pipe and some drag radials, it broke into the high 12s. This was also the point where Michael's addiction to modifying cars really took off.
Since then, the car has had a multitude of components, ranging from various brands of cylinder heads, short-blocks, and a few toasted clutches. Each time the car was modified or repaired, Michael was the one turning the wrenches on it.
A lot of lessons were learned the hard way, which typically involves breaking things. Several lessons and build assistance came from his dad, also a gearhead. Many late nights were spent on this car together, priceless time for a father and son. The two welded up the rollbar and did the vehicle assembly together. They also did all of the paintwork, using PPG Radiance Silver flames laid over PPG two-stage Pearl-and-Black. The flamed, retro-theme paint and classic-style wheels were chosen because it's a look that appeals to both new and old hot rodders. Everywhere they cruise, people of all ages give them the thumbs up. All of the wrenching and racing led Michael to recently start up his own shop, which he calls Sunshine Performance.