Some folks might have a problem working all day, then coming home, and doing the same thing until the wee hours of the morning. That is, unless you’re a professional mechanic working after hours on your dream car. Ed Nash from Port Orange, Florida, has been a professional autobody technician for the last 28 years. The enthusiast seed was planted early, thanks to his father, in charge of the local Chevrolet dealership, who would bring amazing cars home and do burnouts and donuts in front of the house. Back then, the split bumper Camaro was one of young Ed’s favorites, and it still is. Having built almost a dozen high-performance vehicles in the past, he decided it was time for an awesome street car and decided to make the fantasy of that second-gen Camaro a reality. He found this ’71 Camaro SS locally and, although it was in genuinely poor condition, the price was right. Ed had a clear view of the potential however, and the beat-up car was the perfect choice since he planned to upgrade everything anyway. Ed has a unique philosophy: “I don’t like cars that I don’t own. And if I don’t build them, they’re not really mine.”
Rollers & Binders
Big brakes were as important as any other element of the car and Ed chose ’09 ZO6 binders with 14.5-inch, six-piston calipers up front and 14-inch, four-piston versions in the rear. The 19-inch three-piece Forgeline SP3P forged alloy wheels up front are 10 inches wide. Wrapped with 255/35-ZR19 Nitto Invo rubber, the Camaro grabs corners like it’s on rails. In the rear, 20x12 Forgeline rims create just the right rake while the fat contact patch from the Nitto Invo 315/35-ZR20s plants the power to the ground.
Creating the chassis became a two-step process but it wasn’t planned that way. The build began with Ed creating his own 2x4 Art Morrison–style chassis and equipping it with Corvette C4 front and rear suspension. Unfortunately, when it came time to join body and frame, the design of the rear framerails intruded so far into the passenger compartment that the back seat would no longer fit. Since four seats and a roomy interior was an important element of the completed car, the new chassis was scrapped. Rethinking his plan for the car, Ed realized that if he put stock ’rails and floorpans back in, he could still build the car the way he wanted and achieve roughly the same effect while retaining seating for four. Dynacorn reproduction rear ’rails along with stock front and rear floorpans solved the problem. With the basic structure once again sound, Ed began adding some creative touches. In the rear, he designed his own four-link to hold the Ford 9-inch/3.50 rear, stabilized with QA1 coilovers and centered with a Panhard bar of his own design. Up front, he created an Art Morrison-style 2x4 front clip using Jake’s Rod Shop C6 suspension parts that included upper and lower A-arms and knuckles along with QA1 coilovers, 400-pound springs, and a 1.5 inch sway bar. A T-Bird power steering rack was added and body bushings from Detroit Speed ensured the new car would have minimal lean in the corners.
Music fills the interior, thanks to a Kenwood head unit with an MTX Thunder amplifier under the driver seat. It powers the pair of 4.5-inch two-way speakers in the kick panels, the 6x9s in the rear package tray, and the 10-inch MTX sub hidden behind the rear wall in the trunk. The build process took two years, finishing in October 2011. All that was left was a name for his creation and that happened late one night about the time Ed came to grips with how much was involved in this project. “It’s a sickness,” he thought to himself. Since the car was originally an SS, the SiknSS name stuck. Now that it’s done, all traces of the late-night ailments have disappeared and Ed and Terry drive their ultimate second-gen Camaro everywhere. Was his “less is more” philosophy effective? We’d say so. The dozens of subtle modifications paid off, with the car taking Best of Show in its very first outing, competing against 1,600 other vehicles!
The motor is an ’02 LS1 from a wrecked Corvette hit in the rear. Since the ’02s have rear-mounted transmissions and torque tubes, Ed sourced a 4L60E four-speed automatic from a Chevy TrailBlazer to complete the powertrain, installed with the help of his good friend Greg Pellicer. Reliability and a quiet ride were more important than dragstrip-level performance so the only changes to the already-quick LS1 were Hedman 17/8-inch headers and Flowmaster mufflers with a custom 2.5-inch exhaust. Tony Gonyon from HP Performance in Jacksonville, Florida, did the final tuning, getting the transmission to communicate with the engine and tweaking the car’s computer until they achieved 380 hp at the flywheel. Lots of interesting work occurred in the engine room however, beginning with the smooth firewall and custom-made 18-gauge steel wheeltubs. Ed kept half of the original tubs and handformed the rest. Twin 16-inch SPAL fans in a custom shroud keep temps in the green while the 140-amp alternator keeps the Optima Red Top battery fully charged. The air intake is custom-made with a 4-inch tube running from the engine to the enclosure built into the driver-side front fender. There is a cone air cleaner behind the headlight and air is inducted through spaces around the headlight. When people ask Ed how they can get that kit, he smiles and says, “A hammer and dolly would be a good start!”
In an amazing degree of personalization, Ed embarked on a project that only an experienced bodyman would tackle. Virtually everything on the car’s exterior has been replaced. That includes the hood, fenders, upper and lower valances, nose, bumpers, roof skin, quarter-panels, doorskins, and decklid. Not a single body panel on the car is original and the only part reused was the spoiler on the trunk. Spoken like a true master of his trade, Ed says, “It was easier to put on new panels than rehab the old stuff.” Cleaning up was part of the rejuvenation process with sidelights shaved and emblems eliminated. The hood is a Goodmark cowl-induction hood that reinforces the car’s aggressive good looks. HID headlights and LEDs in the original taillights guaranteed modern nighttime visibility. The final mods were relocating the front and rear bumpers closer to the body and adding the new RS grille and grille shell. When all the panels were in place, every cut line on the car was massaged until perfect. Once the body was straight and true, Auto City smoked glass added a distinctive touch. Ed and his good friend Bobby Gearin joined forces to spray the car over the course of a year. To ensure consistency, they mixed only the amount of the Sikkens Hugger Orange they were going to use that day so as not to change the pigments. The unused portions were sealed and hooked up to the shop’s automatic agitators, keeping everything fresh. It worked perfectly!
Upholstery Pro, Ed Schreck from Deland, Florida, brought his more than 40 years of experience to the task, creating the black and orange interior. The seats from an ’02 Camaro were already in place, an upgrade that was part of Nash’s philosophy. “I wanted something that was going to be more comfortable than the big and bulky factory seats. The new seats share the look of the original ’71s, but three decades younger, they are better in every way. I believe it’s essential to add items that truly match the design and personality of the car.” Schreck rejuvenated the front seats with a combination of black and orange houndstooth fabric, trimmed with black Ultraleather. Once they were complete, the original back seat was discarded and a new one made from scratch. The door panels and upholstered trunk received the same eye-catching orange and black upgrades. Schreck created all-new black pile carpeting using a combination of 42-ounce hotel carpet, jute backing, and Dynamat sound deadening, minimizing both heat and sound absorption issues. As an unexpected surprise, Ed’s wife, Terry, did her part, making the car’s interior a gift to her husband. With the stitch work done, Nash took over, replacing the original gauges with a carbon-fiber panel holding Nu Vintage Red Line instruments. Backlighted, featuring adjustable colors and glow in the dark pointers, the gauges added a new dimension to monitoring underhood activity. The center console now holds repositioned window switches and the push-button start from a Honda S2000. The ididit column was upgraded with a classic three-spoke billet steering wheel from National Parts Depot. Creature comforts followed and the Gen IV Vintage Air A/C unit, carefully fitted out of sight under the dash, is the perfect solution for hot summer days in the Sunshine State. CHP