Sometimes you just have to sit back and wonder what if? Recently, while walking through the Laconia Nationals in New Hampshire, we stopped dead in our tracks and did a double take when we came across Chris Lamb’s wicked Tuxedo Black 1968 Camaro. What first caught our eye was its amazing attention to detail, but a closer look revealed a seamless installation of a 5.7L Corvette V-8. It looked factory, but in reality — downright malicious.
It’s all gotta start somewhere, and for Chris Lamb of Wakefield, New Hampshire, he’s got fond memories dating back to his youth when he was often influenced by his grandfather, who was an engineer for Bell Telephone. Chris would spend long hours, sometimes late into the night, watching his grandfather fabricate actual things from virtually nothing — using only his imagination and skills. Ultimately, these capabilities lead to designing and building everything from jewelry to sailboats and everything in between.
It must have been those long summers spent on their farm, where, at the influential age of 5, he scraped together weeks of his allowance to buy a riding lawnmower to hone in on his driving skills, in essence, gaining an appreciation for speed.
Once Chris hit his early teens, ol’ Granddad would spend time with him in the basement designing custom chassis’ for his RC racers. That experience taught him how to work with aluminum, and that anything was possible if you put your mind to it. Flashing past his high school years, and a lot of seat time spent in various Chevy-powered mini-trucks, Chris’ need for speed led him to look for his first Camaro. It was a solid, bone-stock, 307ci-powered 1969 sporting three on the floor. Not the fastest in town, but it served him well for many years.
Bitten by the drag racing bug, Chris started out redoing the car with a hopped-up small-block and Muncie four-speed that eventually got him 13.8-second quarter-mile timeslips.
Much like his grandfather, Chris possessed the need to improve on what seemingly worked well. So before selling the car, Chris introduced the engine bay to a fire-breathing 482-inch Rat shifted through a built TH350. In this state, the once-subdued F-body now seared the quarter-mile in 10.2 seconds, and this was still a “street car” for Chris!
A few years had passed, and being without a hot rod made Chris clamor for a new project. Seems the drag racing bug was never quite suppressed. So, once more he started scouring the local for-sale ads ’till he struck gold. Literally 5 miles from his grandparents house, which he now owns, a deal was made and he purchased a 1968 Camaro as a roller for $2,000. Chris hauled the car home to the same basement shop he worked in with his grandfather as a young lad.
This was the beginning of a project that would last the next 8 years and present Chris with many challenges in both function and fabrication. Chris’ sole intention was to design and create the Camaro of his dreams. Once the car was fully disassembled, he decided that a complete restoration, with plenty of upgrades was in order – a tall procedure even though the car was fairly solid.
Chris started the upgrades by adding Competition Engineering subframe connectors with solid aluminum body mounts. From there he addressed the suspension and steering needs by working BMR tubular upper and lower A-arms and a QA1 coilover conversion kit into the mix. A Hotchkis oversized antiroll bar and Steeroid’s power rack-and-pinion were brought in to navigate the course. Out back, there would have to be plenty of grunt to accommodate Chris’ passion for racing, so a 1970 Nova 8.5-inch Posi rearend was installed with 4.11 gears along with Hotchkis 2-inch lowered leaf springs and KYB adjustable gas shocks. To be sure that there would be plenty of stopping power, Chris incorporated a four-wheel disc brake system plucked from a 2001 Camaro.
With everything coming together, the car had to have plenty of attitude. For this he called upon Billet Specialties for a killer set of wheels topped with sticky Falken rubber that not only looked great, but would also handle flawlessly.
Eckhoff’s Auto Body in Ossipee, New Hampshire, made every line on the Camaro razor-sharp ’cuz it had to be painted black, error on the skin was not an option.
While the body and prep was taking place, Chris kept hard at work building the pulse of the car with a 450hp small-block linked up to a Muncie four-speed.
In its completed state, Chris spent many nights studying the car in his shop, and even with the remarkably flawless body, paint, and stance, he still wanted more. He decided to pull the mint nose off the car and started redesigning a drivetrain that would ultimately leave him breathless. He didn’t want to just go with more cubic inches – he wanted to incorporate a more modern engine and drivetrain. A 2001 Corvette LS1 linked to a six-speed transmission was invited to the party!
Chris wanted to be sure that the installation looked as if it came from the factory so immeasurable hours were spent in his shop as he fabricated everything needed from scratch. Appearance again played a part so Chris made sure only a bare minimum of wiring was visible once the hood was opened.
Finally, all Chris’ challenges were met. He’s got a car with impeccable handling, total uniqueness, and enough unsustainable horesepower to keep him buying tires for years to come!
There’s no doubt Chris’ grandfather would have been proud. We kinda dig it, too.
|Owner:||Chris Lamb, Wakefield, New Hampshire|
|Type:||Chevrolet Gen III LS1|
|Induction:||Custom-made dual-inlet air intake with K&N filters, stock intake manifold, fuel system upgraded with return system for EFI, including MSD pump|
|Exhaust:||Flowmaster 2 1/4-inch aluminized tube with crossover and Flowmaster mufflers|
|Tuning:||Speartech engine management system with ECM upgrade and reprogram|
|Transmission:||2001 Camaro T-56 six-speed, hydraulic clutch conversion|
|Rear Axle:||1970 Nova 8.5-inch posi with 4.11 gears|
|Front Suspension:||BMR Fabrication upper and lower tubular A-arms with urethane bushings, QA1 coilover conversion, Hotchkis front sway bar with urethane bushings|
|Rear Suspension:||Hotchkis leaf springs with solid aluminum front spring eye bushings with urethane rear bushings and shackles, KYB adjustable gas charged shocks|
|Brakes:||2001 Camaro four-wheel disc, 13-inch rotors, EBC medium compound brake pads|
|Chassis Other:||Competition Engineering subframe connectors with solid aluminum body mounts, Russell stainless steel brake lines|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels:||Billet Specialties SLX37 17x8 front, 18x9 rear|
|Tires:||Falken 245/45 front, 275/40 rear|
|Upholstery:||Black loop pile carpet|
|Seats:||High-back buckets in black vinyl|
|Steering:||Steeroids power rack-and-pinion, Woodgrain wheel|
|Instrumentation:||Auto Meter Sport-Comp|