Tim Lee has owned a lot of hot rods over the years. Everything from a 1965 Buick with a Grand National engine to a Tri-Five Chevy and a stack of Corvairs, but one car still on his bucket list was a first-gen Camaro. The main impediments to Tim getting one was that the examples done right weren’t to his taste, and the project cars were either too beat down or priced too high. One day Tim was walking through a local body shop when he spied what appeared to be most of a 1967 Camaro languishing in the corner. It was partially assembled and in primer, but it looked to be in good shape. After talking with the shop owner, he found out that it had a ton of parts lying around and it was for sale. Turned out, the owner abandoned the project after most of the metalwork had been done and he just wanted to be rid of it. Before long, the Camaro and its sizable stack of parts were sitting in Tim’s shop: Don Lee Auto in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
The Camaro came with a lot of good stuff, such as a stock LS1 engine, T-56 six-speed, and an aftermarket front subframe, so Tim thought all he had to do was assemble the various bits. Well, we all know that plans can fall apart at some point. Before long the LS1 was moved to another project and Tim was building a stroked 416ci LS3. Starting with a stock Chevrolet Performance 6.2L block, Tim added a 4-inch-stroke Eagle forged crank and a set of their H-beam rods. Fully coated Mahle PowerPak pistons yielded an 11:1 compression ratio which, for an LS engine, is downright pump-gas friendly, even in California. For heads, he chose RHS 232cc aluminum pieces paired up with a complete COMP valvetrain. To simplify things, Tim tossed the idea of EFI and instead topped the engine off with an Edelbrock single-plane Super Victor LS intake and a Holley Ultra HP 850-cfm carburetor. Tim grew up tinkering with carbs, so for him this was easier than punching keys on a laptop. An MSD 6LS sends spark to the eight Granatelli coil packs while Holley valve covers and an F-body GM pan keeps the oil where it belongs. It’s a combo good enough for 617 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of twist.
Backing up the engine is a Tremec T-56 fitted with a Centerforce DYAD clutch. Power spins rearward through a 3.5-inch Inland Empire Driveline driveshaft and into a Currie 9-inch rear with Detroit Truetrac posi and 3.91 gears.
With the suspension in pieces, Tim was able to sort it all out, get it powdercoated, and on the car. The rack-and-pinion-equipped subframe up front and four-link rear really helps the Camaro ride nice and carve corners. Surrounding the four-wheel Wilwood disc brake system is a set of Forgeline GA3-6 18-inch, three-piece forged wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza rubber.
Tim wanted the interior to be classic, yet updated, so he picked up an interior kit from TMI and sent the car over to Paul’s Auto Trim (Ontario, California) to have it all put in place. The TMI foam and cover kits transformed the stock front and rear seat frames into modern, bolstered seats that actually hold you in place. Tim also wanted to retain the stock dash layout but needed more than the “idiot lights” that resided in the OE dash. His solution was to run one of the VHX systems from Dakota Digital. This enabled him to retain the OE bezel and still get a full complement of gauges. For a bit of safety, there’s a bolt-in stainless Tiger Cage, while a host of billet bits from Eddie Motorsports incorporates additional style.
Keeping with the updated classic theme, Tim rolled with an original GM color: Axalta’s 1967 Marina Blue. Paul Smoot (Upland, California) did the final bodywork and shot the two-stage paint that was eventually rubbed out to perfection. Other than deleting emblems, there are no body mods since Tim liked the way GM did it the first time.
The Camaro took just over a year to put together with his son Kevin, and Tim loves how the project turned out. He recently got the chance to run it at a local autocross and he reports that the handling was much better than he expected. He’s even had the F-body out to the local dragstrip where it ran 11.92 e.t. at 124 mph. Impressive times considering it was on radial street tires. But mostly Tim just enjoys driving the Camaro around town and is happy that one more car can be checked off of his bucket list.
|Owner:||Tim and Crystal Lee, Upland, California|
|Type:||LS3 6.2L aluminum block|
|Cylinder Heads:||RHS 232cc, 2.055/1.600-inch valves, 68cc combustion chambers|
|Rotating Assembly:||Eagle 4340 forged crankshaft and connecting rods, Mahle pistons|
|Valvetrain:||ARP studs, COMP Magnum pushrods, hydraulic lifters, and Ultra Gold rockers|
|Camshaft:||COMP XER hydraulic (238/240-deg. duration at 0.050; 0.605/0.609-inch lift) and single-roller timing chain|
|Induction:||Edelbrock Super Victor manifold, Holley Ultra HP 850-cfm carburetor, Aeromotive pump and filter|
|Ignition:||MSD 6LS box, Granatelli Motor Sports coils and 8mm wires|
|Exhaust:||Dynatech ceramic-coated 1 7/8-inch headers, 2.5-inch stainless exhaust|
|Ancillaries:||GM F-body oil pan, Melling oil pump, Holley valve covers, CBM billet F-body pulley system and solid tensioner, AFCO two-pass radiator, single electric fan, Energy poly engine mounts|
|Output (est. at flywheel):||617 hp at 6,500 rpm, 553 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm|
|Machine Work:||Rancho Machine|
|Built By:||Tim and Kevin Lee|
|Transmision:||2000 T-56 six-speed, Centerforce DYAD twin-disc clutch|
|Rear Axle:||9-inch, 3.91 gears, Currie axles, Eaton limited-slip differential, Inland Empire aluminum driveshaft|
|Front Suspension:||TCI Engineering subframe with rack-and-pinion steering, tubular control arms, QA1 coilover shocks|
|Rear Suspension:||TCI Engineering four-link, QA1 coilover shocks|
|Brakes:||Wilwood 13-inch vented rotors, four-piston calipers, front; 12-inch rotors, two-piston calipers, rear; Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels:||Forgeline GA3-6 18x8 front, 18x10 rear|
|Tires:||Bridgestone Potenza 255/40 front, 275/40 rear|
|Upholstery:||Paul’s Auto Trim|
|Material:||Vinyl and micro-suede|
|Steering:||Rack-and-pinion, tilt-column, Eddie Motorsports wheel|
|Shifter:||Eddie Motorsports stick and ball|
|Instrumentaion:||Dakota Digital carbon-fiber in OEM housing|
|HVAC:||Vintage Air Gen IV (to be installed)|
|Bodywork & Paint:||Paul Smoot (Upland, California)|
|Paint:||Axalta two-stage Marina Blue|
|Hood:||GM steel cowl|
|Grille:||Ground Up RS with electric door motors|
|Bumpers:||GM with deleted front bumper|
|Door Handles:||Billet Eddie Motorsports|
|Taillights:||Billet Eddie Motorsports with LED lighting|
|Wipers:||Raingear hidden wiper motor system|