These days it’s a rare occasion when a 19-year-old gravitates towards ’60’s muscle when it comes to fulfilling his automotive driving ambition. It’s more common for today’s teens to steer clear from classic hot rods, rides generally more appealing to the generation or two prior to today’s teens—you know, someone born in the ’60s instead of a kid who first saw light during the height of Seattle’s grunge music scene. Well, Sean Berardi isn’t much for following the generational template mapped out by his fellow high school graduates. Nope. Dude beats to his own drum, and not in your typical 4/4 fashion, either.
Although Sean was born a few years shy of the century’s turn, his interests would suggest he has more in common with the likes of those who blast early Van Halen, Scorpions, or Thin Lizzy more so than those booming synthetic bass notes through a pair of 15-inch subs piled in the back of a turbo-lagged Subaru.
With Sean’s muscle car taste reaching way back to the first-gen F-body, the Petaluma, California, resident headed north to Medford, Oregon, to pick up a 1967 Camaro, which came decked out in full-on drag racing trim. Although neck-snapping acceleration was an attractive element to the Camaro, his intentions were to have a car that could stretch the lateral-g limits as well.
Starting with the suspension, Sean acquired a Chris Alston’s Chassisworks subframe and bolted up a set of Chassisworks lowering spindles and a coilover system featuring VariShocks and 450lb VariSprings up front. Out back, a Heidts four-link assembly accommodates the Chassisworks coilover system armed with VariShocks and 200lb springs. Wilwood six-piston binders with 14-inch rotors on all four corners peek from behind a set of black AZA Feeler Z2 rollers (18x8.5 front, 18x10 rear) wrapped in BFG Rival rubber (245/35 front, 275/35 rear).
Keller Motor Supply (Medford, Oregon) built the NASCAR-inspired 370ci stroker that features 12.5:1 Wiseco slugs, a forged steel crank, Keith Black rods, and a COMP 285 cam. Like a banned substance for athletes, NASCAR outlawed the Pontiac heads found topping the mill, but northern California is far from NASCAR country, so rules don’t apply. Milodon Megaflow valves, Isky valvesprings, Crower roller rockers, and COMP pushrods were good to go.
A Holley 750-cfm carb sits atop a Chevy Performance intake manifold while an MSD 6ALN ignition provides the fire. A Ron Davis aluminum radiator is committed to cooler engine temps, and a pair of Sanderson ceramic-coated headers dump waste into a set of Flowmaster mufflers.
Sean estimates his NASCAR-banned workhorse carries the F-body to the tune of about 700 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque—easily potent enough stretch the car’s limits around any road course or autocross.
A Tremec TKO 600 five-speed, McLeod II hydraulic clutch, and Hurst shifter ensure quick-like gear changes. A Currie rearend houses 4.11 gears and 31-spline axles, and readily accepts the tire-abusing torque handed down by the 3.5-inch Mark Williams Enterprises driveshaft.
With the bodywork and paint completely in check, Sean was content with the flashy red pigment and moved on to the interior mods. Not much was missing here, yet he added his own flavor by way of Corbeau seats and Flaming River tilt column and black-wrapped Waterfall steering wheel. An Auto Meter gauge panel hosts the informants to keep Sean in tune with the car’s performance. A Chassisworks rollbar offers additional chassis stiffness and safety while a Crow Enterprises four-point harness secures the driver and passenger.
Keeping a young muscle car enthusiast in line can offer some challenges, but Sean’s parents ensure certain goals are met before the ignition key ever gets a twist to the “on” position. “I have to maintain a 3.0 GPA or the car stays in the garage,” confesses Sean. “I play on the college golf team, too, so I don’t have as much time to drive the car as I’d like to, but grades come first, and I’m OK with that. It just makes me try harder.”
Thus far, he’s made the grades and enjoys spending weekends at USCA, Hooked on Driving, and Goodguys autocross events. The car definitely takes a beating, but that’s exactly what it was built to do.
It’s great when our classic muscle car world gains another member of the younger generation, and when Sean Berardi isn’t driving golf balls down a fairway, there’s a good chance you’ll find him dodging cones at the local driving event … well, as long as he maintains that 3.0 GPA.