Middle-class suburbia is far behind us, and we’re doing a poor job of blending in. From a standpoint of artistic expression, the crumbling ruins of a small, decrepit town serving as the backdrop to a freshly resurrected 1970 Camaro makes for an interesting exercise in contrast. At least that was the idea, but now we’re having second thoughts. Towns like the one we’re in shut down completely while it’s still bright outside, and for outsiders, the resulting sense of urban desolation is eerie and unsettling. Questionable characters thumpin’ bass in their mid-’90’s Town Cars and Fleetwoods drive by every few minutes, and one of them has stopped by our photo shoot for a chat. The brief discussion revolved around the Camaro’s sizzling orange paint; and whether you want it to or not, this car seizes attention wherever it goes.
As a sales rep for Sherwin-Williams’ automotive finishes division, Ben Dolton felt an obligation to represent in a flamboyant kind of way. After all, peddling paint would be quite a chore if his ride’s finish were as vibrant as a Norwegian winter. “Working in the automotive field, I definitely wanted something that no one else had,” explains Ben. “I knew I could make any color imaginable, so I just needed to come up with an idea of what I wanted.” To accomplish this — which ended up being easier than expected — he selected a rare shade of orange that was only offered on the now-defunct Plymouth Prowler for one model year. While the color isn’t custom, the Prowler’s production numbers were so low that it might as well be. What is custom are the Camaro’s stripes. Instead of resorting to a crude sticker job, they were painted on in a color he concocted after a few hours of experimental mixing.
While many Camaro enthusiasts settle for second-gens after the sticker shock squashes their dreams of first-gen ownership, that wasn’t the case for Ben. He’s a second-gen guy to the core, his first being a ’72 Camaro he drove throughout college. “Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the first-gen body style,” he opines. “In comparison, second-gens were ahead of their time.” That sounds a little cliché, indeed, but the man has a valid point. The unique oversized grille found on early RS-trim split-bumper coupes is shamelessly mimicked today by modern Audis and VWs. Although the 1994 Toyota Supra gets credit for inspiring the current trend of towering rear wings on factory rice rockets, the second-gen Camaro blazed the trail for look-at-me rear spoilers more than two decades prior, albeit with much more taste.
Aspiring to build a streetable driver that he could beat on with regularity, he scored a deal for $2,500 years ago at a local garage by his work. The shop owner had it stored indoors for the previous 15 years — hence its excellent condition — but never got around to putting it together, which explains its bottom-dollar price. “When I bought the car, it was in a million pieces, but the body was in great shape,” Ben recollects. “Even though I would replace most of the body panels, I wanted a good foundation to start with.” Perhaps that was a lesson learned from his days working at a body shop during college, but where that experience really paid off was during the buildup of his car. Working on nights and weekends with his buddy Cody Burr, the duo spent 10 months straightening out the sheetmetal and another 6 months on the paint for a collective total of 5,000 hours. For a backyard paint-and-body project, the results are absolutely spectacular.
Considering Ben’s Camaro has earned more accolades on the show circuit than at the dragstrip, you might assume that it lacks balls. It’s a presumption reinforced by the car’s choir boy idle and the modestly sized hump on its hood. Popping the lid open, however, reveals just as much visual drama as the car’s exterior: a Weiand Roots-style mini-blower plopped on top of a stout 383. The 8.0:1 bottom end features a forged Eagle crank, steel rods, JE slugs, and a tiny 212/224-at-0.050 cam. Compressed air is channeled through a set of ported factory GM iron heads fitted with Manley valves. Upping the streetability ante is a Holley Commander 950 TBI system that utilizes a pair of 85 lb/hr injectors.
On the rollers, the final verdict reads 430 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. Sure, that kind of power can easily be made in naturally aspirated trim these days, but the looks of the blower alone justifies its existence, and the fact that it fits without hacking up the hood scores extra style points. “I was going to go with a centrifugal blower because they’re more efficient, but the Roots is old-school and looks way more intimidating,” says Ben. Backing it all up is a Tremec TKO-600 five speed, and an 8.5-inch 10-bolt rearend fortified with Moser axles and a Detroit Locker diff.
As the day winds down, we’ve relocated to an alley hoping to get away from the bevy of curious eyes, but the move proves futile. There’s no escaping the Camaro’s magnetic appeal, and panhandlers have already arrived to get a closer look. Attention, even the kind you don’t want is just something that must always be dealt with in a car like this. Fortunately, should you encounter less friendly locals, it’s got enough juice to get you the hell out of there in a hurry.
|Owner:||Ben Dolton, Addison, Texas|
|Vehicle:||1970 Chevrolet Camaro|
|Cylinder Heads:||Factory GM iron with 1.94/1.50-inch Manley valves, COMP Cams valvesprings, 76cc chambers|
|Rotating Assembly:||Forged Eagle crank and 6.00-inch rods, JE pistons|
|Valvetrain:||COMP Cams 1.6:1 roller rockers|
|Camshaft:||Lunati 212/224-at-0.050 hydraulic roller; 0.522-inch lift; 112-degree LSA|
|Intake:||Weiand manifold and 144ci supercharger, Holley throttle body|
|Exhaust:||Hooker 1 3/4-inch long-tube headers, custom 3-inch collectors, and X-pipe; MagnaFlow 3-inch mufflers|
|Fuel System:||Holley Commander 950 TBI system, fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, dual 85 lb/hr injectors|
|Final Tune:||By owner|
|Clutch:||Keisler bellhousing and clutch assembly|
|Rear Axle:||Factory 8.5-inch 10-bolt rearend, Moser 28-spline axles, 3.73:1 gears, Detroit Locker differential|
|Front Suspension:||Heidts upper and lower control arms, RideTech airbags and sway bar|
|Rear Suspension:||Hotchkis springs and sway bar, QA1 shocks, Competition Engineering subframe connectors|
|Brakes:||Baer two-piston calipers and 13-inch rotors, front; Baer two-pistons calipers and 12.5-inch rotors, rear; SSBC master cylinder|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels:||Billet Specialties Holeshot 18x8, front (3.75-inch backspace); 20x10, rear (6.25-inch backspace)|
|Tires:||Avon Tech 245/35, front; 275/35, rear|
|Seats:||Summit Racing buckets, G-Force harnesses|
|Stereo:||Alpine head unit, speakers, amps, and subs|
|Paint:||Sherwin-Williams Prowler Orange|
|Hood:||Ground Up 2.5-inch cowl-induction hood|