"I've been into cars since I was a kid. My dad was into drag racing. He would let me drive his car in parking lots. I was not very good in school but I always loved driving and racing," Bruce White testified.
"I'm trying to be a car collector," said the shepherd of his somewhat eclectic assembly. "My first nice car was a '79 Corvette. I still have a 1990 F-150 truck. It has a five-inch lift. Perfect condition with 39,700 miles. My daily driver is an Audi A5 … and I also have two Harleys and two four-wheel-drive ATVs. Anything with a motor that goes fast I like. The others include a '96 Corvette with 11,400 miles, an '04 350Z (wife, Lynn's, daily scooter), and an '07 ZO6 with 8K on the clock. I bought that car at the time because I wanted the most state-of-the-art race car I could afford. This is still an unbelievable car. I've got it modified to 630 horsepower."
As for the black bullet before you, "I bought the car [it was red then] on eBay about 12 years ago. Nothing was very nice about it. A friend of mine named Chop helped me get it running well enough to take it drag racing and not break. We still had a problem of the right front wheel rubbing on the fender during right turns … that I never got fixed.
But in a very roundabout way he did get it fixed. All he needed was to build the nascent '69 around the cure. "I got a little carried away with the project," Bruce admitted like so many others whose mechanical mistresses have been featured on these pages. And what makes a car "nice?" All the details, all the understatement, and all the craftwork that creates an "of-a-piece" rendition. When asked about what he believed was the Camaro's most unique feature, Bruce was quick to say, "I think it is the side gills." They, like other accents in critical positions like points of light (grille surround, perimeters of the side view mirrors, hood vents, brake calipers, rocker switch covers, harnesses, valve covers and intake manifold) reflect red in a sea of black, and subtly tie the ensemble together.
"I have seen too many neat muscle cars that look nice and have a big motor, but the rest of the car, the parts you can't see, are all junk. I started with the Roadster Shop chassis because it comes as a compete assembly, suspension included. I knew that if I started out with the right chassis, I could do anything with the motor and [the rest of] my car could still handle it."
It's obvious that money was no object and that only the best would do and the players have all been celebrated for top-notch creation and epic follow-though. While the main courses were orchestrated by the Roadster Shop on Route 83 in Mundelein, Illinois, the clutch hitters were Turn Key Engine Supply in Oceanside, California, and Pro Auto Custom Interiors in Knoxville, Tennessee. Props also to Jon Wright's Custom Chrome Plating in Grafton, Ohio, and Marquez Design in West Sacramento, California.
For power, Bruce made the decision to stay normally aspirated, and based this notion on a 372-cubic-inch LS3 motor that Turn Key fortified with forged H-beam connecting rods and Mahle forged 10.7:1 pistons urged by the stock nodular iron crankshaft. Turn Key CNC-ported the cylinder heads, maintaining 68cc combustion chambers and 279cc intake ports. The hydraulic camshaft features a lift of 0.525-inch on both valves and duration at 0.050-inch of 226/236. Delphi lifters bump 2.16/1.59 titanium valves with 5⁄16-inch diameter chrome-moly pushrods that have a 0.080-inch wall and are 7.400 inches long.
RS dressed the LS out with a Billet Specialties Tru Trac accessory drive and custom Katech valve covers. The fuel delivery/ignition system centers on a MEFI 5 controller, a Turn Key Stage 2 fuel system, and a 90mm throttle body drawing through a K&N cone pinned to custom ducting. RS built the 1 ¾-inch stainless headers and followed up with an X-pipe where the 3-inch tract broaches Borla XR1 mufflers and continues all the way through the valance panel. Everything is tucked neatly within the width of the frame members. Cooling is nothing if not urgent, so RS adapted an AutoRad heat exchange system and electro-static fans and anchored them with a custom radiator support. So that nuts-only output, as per Turn Key's dyno, is 565 hp and 485 ft-lb of torque.
While Bruce could easily have been tempted by the comfort of a self-shifting transmission and a fluid coupling, he preempted that debate by going with a hydraulically operated third pedal. RS took a modified Tremec T56 Magnum gearbox and stuck it to the motor with a QuickTime conversion bellhousing and an 11-inch pressure plate. Grunt is absorbed by a Strange Engineering 9-inch axle twisting a True Trac differential.
But the grit of this Camaro lies in its Fast Track chassis, a web-like form that extends well beneath it, ensuring bending and torsional stiffness (with 10-gauge-thickness 'rails) that no other type of construction could, so much so that the rigidity it imparts is enough to preclude the rollcage that might normally be necessary for such support. Ancillaries include Corvette C6 spindles and hubs, hefty upper and lower control arms, AFCO double-adjustable coilover dampers and a splined antisway bar. Although RS offers an independent rear suspension system, they also provide a solid axle design, and that is what pulled mightily on Bruce's chain. The 9-inch is situated with vertically mounted AFCO shocks, four-link bars, Panhard rod, and a splined antisway bar.
All this stiffness and rigidity allows those high-grip Pilot Sports to provide ultimate active handling and braking. The Camaro sits wicked on HRE 794RS (19- and 20-inch) three-piece modulars and 265/35 and 335/30 Michelins. The other half of the roller ticket is the 13-inch Baer Pro T (6-piston) and SS4 (4-piston) energy burners.
Since Bruce doesn't drive beaters in real life, he's going to go for all the comfort and convenience he can get. This could well begin with the ambience of the interior. His pleasant though structured confines include a custom-fabbed dashboard with a race vibe and a handbuilt console in a clean and simple black background. RS sourced Stack Pro-Control gauges and socked them into the dash and the console. They tied to the exterior cues with the red rocker switch covers and other small bits. They hooked up the Vintage Air Gen IV Magnum HVAC. They changed the tune with Alpine components (head unit, 6-inch front speakers, 6x9 rear bleaters, and amplifier). Pro Auto Custom Interiors in Knoxville, Tennessee, blanketed the Recaro Sportster seats with leather and walled the surrounding area with Marquez Design door and side panels, also in leather. The Momo Jet steering wheel has it. The RS-built shift lever does not.
From the bottom up, Bruce's Camaro has acquired a Marquez Design front bumper and rolled pan that RS complemented with a custom chin spoiler. RS went further with the bumpers, tucking and re-profiling them to enhance the overall presentation. In the back, the crew crafted a one-off valance panel that the tips of the exhaust pass through. They also integrated a slick (and still stock appearing) aluminum rear spoiler that rises gently from the deck the way the stock fiberglass one never did. RS's Phil Gerber and Chris Grey planned and executed the purloined side gills. The flat, stock hood acquired a modest bulge endowed with custom aluminum vents that remind of the RS/SS trim of the era.
Moving out of the sunshine, RS flattened the firewall and enhanced it with a carbon-fiber insert. They fabricated new, larger, smoother surrounds for the front suspension … all of it quite reminiscent of the outer theme and the build in general. In the end, the Camaro got its complement of PPG Black.
So how's this all work out for Bruce White: "When I take the car to a show, it usually has more people taking pictures of it than other cars. I like that people I don't know think that I did the car good enough that they want their own pictures of it. I also like when my nephews ask me to smoke the tires. I can see the big smiles on their faces. That's how I was. That's what got me interested in all this."