Through the years, the second-generation Chevrolet Camaro has often been overlooked as a performer mainly due to the popularity of the first-gen Camaro. But when your business is building showstopping, track-stomping machines like the folks at Roadster Shop, the desire to be different pushes you to conjure up an insane, one-of-a-kind Camaro—and then take the brash step of naming it Rampage. A fitting name for a car designed to cause destruction among the competition. “I always thought that the second-generation Camaro had a little bit more of an exotic look to it, more so than an American muscle look. We happened to have a great customer who shared the vision, so we twisted his arm a little,” recalled Roadster Shop co-owner Jeremy Gerber.
Their in-house designer, Chris Gray, put the rendering together and the company presented it to car owner Alex Covington, who then made the decision to get the project underway. The Camaro, which was plucked from the desert, was super clean and straight, although covered in patina from sitting. It wore all original sheetmetal right down to the floors—a real rarity in this day and age—but was ripe for blasting to clean up the surfaces.
Once the car was back in the shop and ready to be worked out, they braced the shell and cut the floors completely out to make room for the Roadster Shop chassis underneath. Roadster Shop’s Fast Track full chassis is loaded up with all of the custom options they offer to underpin this beast. In addition, the chassis has been configured to fit the widebody perfectly.
By using fully boxed, hand-fabricated framerails; a new floor; custom center crossmember; and other tricks they’ve developed a suspension system that is immensely stiff to reduce unibody twist yet still uses the factory body mounts and bumper brackets. Each chassis is built to house the customer’s specific engine and transmission selection. In this configuration, the chassis makes use of a rollcage designed to be tight to the body. This was achieved by lifting the body off the chassis during the construction process to ensure it was as snug as possible.
Although the second-gen Camaro chassis’ capabilities were improved over the first-gen’s in factory form, the Roadster Shop team felt they could improve it even more by configuring each piece of the suspension to their liking using a mixture of custom parts, existing products, and proven C6 Corvette spindles and hubs to modernize the chassis’ handling prowess.
“The neat thing about it is that it’s really just an overgrown version of all of our factory production suspension. It may look like a race car, it acts like a race car, it works like a race car, but it still has the same bushings, same control arms, and the same components we use on our production chassis ... just set up a bit wider. But this is a hard-core track day car,” says Gerber.
The track width of this chassis has been increased by approximately 2.5 inches on each side; making Rampage approximately 80.5 inches wide at the outside edges of the Falken Azenis RT615K 315/30/18 tires used during the 2016 Falken Tire Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge. The 5 inches of additional track width engineered into this car is for one reason and one reason only—to maximize grip no matter where the car is raced. Custom control arms were built to tie everything together in the front suspension.
Up front, Penske shocks custom-built for Roadster Shop, utilize Hyperco 600 lb-in springs and work in conjunction with a Speedway 1.25-inch front sway bar, Delrin bushings, and the aforementioned custom control arms. In addition, Roadster Shop custom-designed and machined a trunnion bearing mount rocker arm to work with the front shocks. Alignment settings are simpler than you might expect: 1.75-degrees of negative camber, 6.5-degrees of caster, and 1/16-inch of toe out keep the massive front tires planted.
In the rear, the rollcage and Fast Track chassis support another pair of custom-valved Penske shocks; these wrapped with 800 lb-in Hyperco springs to keep the tires planted over surface undulations. Another Speedway sway bar is in place, with chromoly control arms locating the C&R Racing 9-inch Ford third member, loaded with 3.50 gears and a Wavetrac limited-slip differential. The independent rear suspension uses C6 Corvette knuckles, as the RS team didn’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel when it came to the suspension geometry provided by the spindles. Power to the rearend is delivered via a Driveshaft Shop carbon-fiber driveshaft and sent to the wheels through Driveshaft Shop 300M halfshafts.
With all this grip on tap, surely there must be a monster supercharged or turbocharged powerplant onboard, right? Not so in this instance. The horses are generated by a pump gas, naturally aspirated, 750hp 427ci LS7 built by Thompson Racing Engines and Lingenfelter, which was set back 5 inches to improve weight bias. A cross-ram Hurricane intake from Australian firm Harrop makes use of individual throttle bodies and a pair of plenums to help build usable power throughout the rpm range. Engine management is handled by a MoTeC M880. And when was the last time you saw a pair of 2-inch stainless-steel 180-degree headers wrapped around an LS engine’s oil pan? Right here on Rampage. To route the horsepower from engine to tires, the Jerico transmission uses a 7.250-inch-diameter multi-disc Tilton clutch inside the Tilton bellhousing. The race-inspired Camaro is also fitted with a quartet of air-jacks. Yep, that’s right, just like the big boys.
The Roadster Shop fab team made the decision to build molds in-house for the carbon-fiber wheel flares, and a carbon-fiber Rally Sport front clip from Anvil was set into place. By creating the molds in-house, if there are any on-track issues where damage occurs, they can pop another flare out much more quickly than if one had to be re-created out of metal.
Gerber shared a fun story with us. Apparently, on its first testdrive, Rampage was equipped with Hoosier slicks, the straight-cut gearbox, and the nearly open exhaust. “With the small, lightweight clutch and fresh, cold slicks it is virtually impossible to start the car without spinning the tires,” says Gerber. “At the first stoplight there happens to be a cop sitting directly across from me. I hung a right like a NASCAR leaving the pits and ended up at the next light lined up next to a guy in a red C7 Corvette convertible. I think that guy’s pride and mind will forever be blown.”
|What Makes It Handle|
|427 LS7 by Thompson Racing Engines and Lingenfelter, Jerico road-race dog-box transmission with Tilton 7.25-inch multi-disc clutch. Rearend is a C&R Racing 9-inch third member with 3.50 gears and a Wavetrac differential, carbon-fiber driveshaft and 300M halfshafts from Driveshaft Shop.|
|Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis|
|Roadster Shop Fast Track IFS with trunnion bearing shock mounts. Penske double-adjustable shocks with Hyperco 600-lb springs. Corvette C6 spindles. Roadster Shop SPEC 1.25-inch diameter splined sway bar by Speedway.|
|Performance Friction Brakes (PFC) with 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers.|
|Roadster Shop Fast Track IRS with Penske double-adjustable shocks and 800-lb springs. Roadster Shop SPEC 1-inch diameter sway bar by Speedway.|
|Falken Azenis RT615K; 315/30/18 front and rear|
|Forgeline GA3R; 18x11 front and rear|
|Suspension package, $32,400 with all options|
|How’d It Stack Up?|
|Slalom Average Speed||100-Yard Dash||Road Course Lap Time|
|Roadster Shop 1970 Chevrolet Camaro||49.2 mph||5.15 seconds||01:10.2|
|2010 Camaro SS||42.1 mph||5.76 seconds||01:25.9|
|Looking at these results, it’s quite obvious that Roadster Shop’s 1970 Camaro is, as Jeremy Gerber puts it, a very hard-core track day car. Driven by professional hot shoe Mike Skeen, who also pulled double-duty with the company’s other entry at the Challenge, Rampage simply demolished the benchmark fifth-gen Camaro’s numbers in all aspects. With Skeen pushing the car’s capabilities to the limit, he recorded a best pass over 7 mph quicker than the 2010 in the slalom, 0.60 quicker in the 100-yard dash, and a mind-bending 15-plus seconds quicker around the road course. Its biggest challenge was not melting the tires in the 100-yard dash! The engineering resources, fabrication talent, and systematic build process put into the Rampage Camaro was on full display at this event. It was, simply put, the best-performing machine on the property. And in case you were wondering, it was also fully licensed, registered, and insured for street duty.|
Photography by Robert McGaffin