You never forget your first. “I bought my first one when I was 15 with my own money and fixed it up until I had a license to tear up the streets,” he says. “And that’s where I lost my license.”
It’s the type of story that defines cars like the 1968 Camaro Jack had 30 years ago. Naturally, a bunch of things imposed upon life that made that car go away, but one thing remained: the memories. Those nagging, wistful memories. Memories so powerful, in fact, that they made him sell his chopper and look for another first-gen like the one he had so many years prior.
But he didn’t find another Camaro. Instead, he found a video of one, a sinister-looking, coal-black ’67 called Project Overclock. “I loved the car’s features and look so I reached out to the owner and asked if he builds cars,” Jack says.
Who he found was Justin Smith, owner of Smithy Customs in Houston. At Jack’s behest he found another ’68. This ’68. “Then the process of my dream started to come to life.”
What Justin found was a bit of a rust bucket, typical of a coastal Texas survivor. Naturally, the body underwent an extensive rust-abatement program.
Meanwhile, the chassis underwent fortification. Smithy Customs replaced the front subframe with one from Chris Alston’s Chassisworks. A Chassisworks canted four-link setup replaced the leaf springs. Those bars locate a Chassisworks FAB9 axle with a Strange Engineering 3.89:1 cog on an Eaton Posi limited-slip carrier. A ball-end antiroll bar offsets any understeer induced by the front bar. Both ends ride on RideTech Select Series ShockWaves. Each corner has its own Wilwood 13-inch vented rotor and four-piston caliper.
The inspiration for the more robust chassis came from the LS3. Not all that long ago any enthusiast would’ve jumped at the chance to get the honest 430 hp that the 6.2L makes, but Jack wanted more. This one boasts a number of modifications, the centerpiece being a Mast Motorsports LS3 SS cam.
A 102mm FAST throttle body feeds the engine more air. Mast’s injection and M90 ignition package replace the stock components and it pushes exhaust out of 1 7/8-inch Lemons headers that route to 3-inch pipes, each with its own Stainless Works muffler. After it’s all said and done, the engine churns out 120 hp more than it did stock.
An aluminum Spec flywheel and Stage III clutch transfer that power to a six-speed trans. Tick Performance prepped the TREMEC TR-6060 to Stage II spec. A McLeod shifter assembly engages the gears. That trans in turn spins a Driveshaft Shop driveshaft.
The car rolls on a set of 18x8.5 and 18x12 Boze Tach wheels. They wear Michelin Pilot Sport tires, the fronts measuring 245/40 and the rears 335/30. But to get that much tire in the rear wells meant not only tubbing the rear wheelhouses but also extending the quarters a touch. Externally, the body remains largely stock with a few bolt-on changes like a 2-inch cowl-induction hood, an Eddie Motorsports grille, Marquez taillight housings, Vision Hot Rods VF4 rearview mirrors, and Kindig-It door handles. Kevin Willis, Danny Kirwan, and Justin Smith collaborated on the PPG base/clear black spray job.
Aaron Davis at Smithy’s oversaw the interior transformation. He modeled the cockpit around a pair of modified BMW M3 seats. The door panels lightly reflect the trim design of the ’69 panels, albeit in high relief. The dashboard emerged with a similarly blocky style.
Restomod Air’s climate-control system justified shaving the stock firewall. It blows through a set of the company’s billet vents. An American Autowire harness distributes power throughout the car and a Ringbrothers’ Terminator touch-start kit energizes the system.
A set of Dakota Digital VHX-series gauges—gauges that natively tie into the drivetrain’s harness—replaced the analog ones. A Momo Trek R steering wheel replaced the thin-rim plastic tiller. It mounts to a Flaming River tilt column. Once finished with the fabrication, Aaron Davis then trimmed everything in black leather with a white top-stitch motif. To draw further from road-racing practice, he vented the seat inserts with grommets.
Suffice to say, Jack Staricco’s ’68 far exceeds the one he owned before. Never mind that it exceeded his budget; he says it exceeded every one of his expectations. “I always wanted another one that rode and drove like a new car,” he says. “This is my dream car come true!” Now if only he gets to keep his license this time around.
|Owner:||Jack and Michele Staricco, Brentwood, California|
|Displacement:||376 ci (6.2L)|
|Rotating Assembly:||Nodular-iron crankshaft, powdered metal rods, hypereutectic cast pistons|
|Camshaft:||Mast Motorsports LS3 SS Package (PN 963-103) 230/237-deg. duration at 0.050, 0.609/0.615-inch lift, 111 LSA|
|Ignition:||Mast Motorsports M90|
|Exhaust:||Lemons 1 7/8-inch headers, stainless 3-inch pipes with Stainless Works mufflers|
|Induction:||FAST 102mm throttle body, LS3 plenum, Mast Motorsports SS injection package|
|Output (est):||550 hp|
|Cooling System:||Autorad radiator with dual electric fans|
|Ancillaries:||Concept One accessory-drive system, Powermaster Motorsports 105-amp alternator, Nasty Performance rocker covers|
|Transmission:||Tick Performance Stage II TREMEC TR-6060|
|Clutch:||Spec aluminum flywheel, Stage 3 clutch|
|Rear Axle:||Chassisworks FAB9 housing, Strange Engineering 3.89:1 gear, Eaton Posi limited-slip carrier|
|Front Suspension:||Chris Alston’s Chassisworks clip|
|Rear Suspension:||Chris Alston’s Chassisworks canted four-link|
|Brakes:||Wilwood 13-inch rotors, four-piston calipers front and rear|
|Fuel Tank:||Rick’s Tanks VaporWorx|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels:||Boze Tach 18x8.5 front, 18x12 rear|
|Tires:||Michelin Pilot Sport 245/40 front, 335/30 rear|
|Upholstery:||Black leather by Aaron Davis|
|Steering:||Momo Trek R|
|Instrumentation:||Dakota Digital VHX|
|Audio:||Kenwood DNX892 head unit; Digital Designs signal processors, amplifiers, and speakers/subwoofers installed by Aaron Davis at Smithy Customs|
|Wiring:||American Autowire harness, Ringbrothers Terminator touch-start system|
|Bodywork:||Extended quarters, wheel housings, and mini-tubs; shaved firewall|
|Body Prep/Paint:||Kevin Willis, Danny Kirwan, and Justin Smith, Smithy Customs|
|Paint:||PPG two-stage urethane|
|Rearview Mirrors:||Vision Hot Rods VF4|