Computer geeks call it overclocking. Let's say you're building a custom PC packed with a beastly Intel Core i-7 4960X CPU. Granted that its 3.60 GHz processor is plenty fast enough for the average Facebooking housewife, but dudes watching NSFW videos while that housewife isn't looking need as much speed as possible. A common mod is to overclock the CPU—which can speed up a system by 20 percent or more—but also requires a bigger power supply, enhanced cooling fans, and a more durable motherboard. This increased performance comes with an increased risk of parts failure, which is another way of saying that the entire exercise sounds a whole lot like hot rodding a muscle car. As a hot rodder who happens to be a self-professed computer geek, Justin Smith appropriately named his car the Overclock Camaro. Considering that his '67 is replete with a 530hp LS2, a six-speed stick, a four-link suspension, and massive brakes and rollers, coming up with a clever name isn't the only thing Justin did right.
Taking cues from his gearhead dad, Justin's been working on cars ever since he could hold a wrench. His interest in GM horsepower took an unusual path, but it eventually wound its way to the quintessential Bow Tie brawler: a first-gen Camaro done up Pro Touring style. Back in high school, Justin was big into the off-roading scene. He dropped a small-block Chevy and a five-speed into his Jeep Wrangler, then jacked it up and hit the trails. After stepping up to a Hummer, then building another LT1-powered Wrangler for fun, Justin decided it was time for a change of pace. "I bought a fourth-gen Camaro, and within a year I got it up to 540 rear-wheel hp with ported heads, a bigger cam, and a 100-shot of nitrous. That's what got me into LS-series small-blocks," he explains. "Once the Hummer scene faded and gas prices spiked, I really wanted to build a first-gen Camaro. My two passions are computer engineering and building cars, so I wanted to implement as much modern technology into the car as possible. My goal was to build a first-gen Camaro that had the handling, braking, and ride quality of a late-model."
After a tedious search, Justin picked up a running and driving '67 Camaro for $2,300, which even 10 years ago was a screaming deal. While custom PC builders have the luxury of starting with a brand-new case, or chassis, car builders don't usually have that option. "The car was a primered up piece of junk with a 327 and a three-speed. I drove it around the block, realized it had no brakes, parked it in my garage, and within a week I completely disassembled it down to a bare shell," he recalls. "I got everything sandblasted and etched, then tore into the bodywork. The car had some rust around the windshield (and rear window) and behind the rear tires, but I was able to retain most of the original sheetmetal. While everything was stripped down, I notched the frame and mini-tubbed the back to make more room for some big tires, and shortened up the bumpers."
With the bodywork complete and a fresh coat of black paint laid down, Justin could now get hot and heavy on overclocking his Camaro. This required upping the underhood grunt big time. He secured a stock LS2 short block, fit a Texas Speed 228/228-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam, and then installed a GM LH8 oil pan to clear the F-body chassis. Feeding the 364ci bottom end with a steady air supply are a set of GM L92 aluminum cylinder heads, an L76 intake manifold, and a ported LS2 throttle body. With a reprogrammed GM computer controlling the flow of fuel and electrons, the simple yet potent engine combo is good for 451 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. For the ultimate in durability and fuel economy, a Tremec T-56 six-speed manual trans and a Moser 9-inch rearend round out the driveline. "GM had just come out with the ZZ572 crate motor as I started building this car, so I briefly considered getting one, but I ultimately decided to go for newer technology with an LS small-block," Justin opines.
Since modern Pro Touring machines don't live on horsepower alone, Justin fully revamped the Camaro's underpinnings as well. To bring the F-body's chassis into the 21st century, the factory front suspension got updated with Global West control arms, spindles, and a sway bar. Out back, the archaic leaf springs got booted in favor of a complete RideTech four-link suspension system, while VariShock coilovers are situated at every corner. To vastly improve the Camaro's stopping power, Justin installed Baer 13-inch disc brakes in the front and rear. Sticking it all to the pavement are Michelin Pilot Sport tires wrapped around 18-inch front and 19-inch rear Boze Boost wheels.
Although killer first-gen Camaros are a dime a dozen these days, Justin's a stickler for details, and his creative touches abound throughout the car. Outside, the flush-fit windshield and rear window, blacked-out bumpers, billet door handles, and carbon-fiber front and rear spoilers lend a vibe that's as clean and simple as it is contemporary and sophisticated. Beneath the hood, there's a flattened firewall, a custom cold-air induction system, steel braided stainless hoses everywhere, a billet clutch fluid reservoir, and custom billet coil brackets. Inside, Justin transplanted some seats out of an '06 GTO, and modified a second-gen Camaro center console to fit. The custom door panels are built from aluminum and covered in leather. Likewise, billet switches, knobs, pedal covers, and shifter rings tastefully contrast the black leather and upholstery.
While many hot rodders would consider the overclocking process complete at this point, a computer whiz like Justin took things one step further by integrating cutting-edge electronics into the Camaro's cockpit. "One of the coolest custom features of the car is a tablet docked in the center console. It's programmed with the Torque Pro app, which enables it to communicate with the engine computer through a Bluetooth adapter plugged into the OBD-II diagnostic port," he explains. "The program displays engine rpm, coolant temperature, oil temperature, inlet air temperature, and trouble codes. It also has a g-meter, a GPS system, and a data logger. If any of the engine vitals fall outside normal operating conditions, the tablet triggers an audible alert. It also syncs with my phone as soon as I get in the car so I can use it for email and to play music."
Those that can fix sheetmetal and write computer code are a rare breed indeed, and needless to say both skills require tremendous amounts of patience and attention to detail. For Justin Smith, the product of such a diverse skill set is one spectacular '67 Camaro, and we're not the only ones who have taken notice. Not only has the car won multiple awards and trophies, as word of Justin's good work spread, people began hiring Justin to work on their cars. Soon, Smithy Customs was born. He's got several unique customer projects in the works, and we can't wait to see them. That's not too shabby at all for a computer geek who figured out that overclocking muscle cars is even more entertaining that overclocking CPUs.
|Owner:||Justin Smith, Houston, Texas|
|Vehicle:||1967 Chevrolet Camaro|
|Type:||GM Gen IV small-block|
|Cylinder Heads:||Ported GM L92 rectangle-port aluminum castings|
|Rotating Assembly:||Stock cast crank, powdered metal rods, and hypereutectic pistons|
|Valvetrain:||Factory GM lifters, rockers, and timing set|
|Camshaft:||Texas Speed 228/228-at-0.050 hydraulic roller; 0.588/0.588-inch lift; 112-degree LSA|
|Induction:||GM L76 intake manifold, ported LS2 throttle body|
|Fuel System:||Vaporworks/Rick's Stainless fuel cell and pump; GM LS2 injectors|
|Ignition:||GM coil packs, plug wires, and spark plugs|
|Exhaust:||BRP 1.875-inch headers, custom X-pipe, dual 3-inch Pypes mufflers|
|Output (to the rear wheels):||451 hp and 434 lb-ft|
|Transmission:||Tremec T-56 six-speed manual trans; Spec aluminum flywheel and clutch|
|Rear Axle:||Moser M9 9-inch rearend housing, centersection, 31-spline axles, and 3.90:1 gears; Detroit Truetrac limited-slip differential|
|Front Suspension:||Global West control arms, spindles, and sway bar; VariShock coilovers|
|Rear Suspension:||RideTech four-link, VariShock coilovers|
|Brakes:||Baer 13-inch rotors and two-piston calipers, front and rear|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels:||Boze Boost 18x8, front; 19x12, rear|
|Tires:||Michelin Pilot Sport 255/40-18, front; 345/30-19, rear|
|Seats:||Stock 2006 GTO|
|Hood:||Stock cowl induction|