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Blackdog Speed Shop 1969 Pro Touring Camaro

In For a Pound: “Something was destined to die.”—anonymous

Ro McGonegal May 21, 2018
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At first, Blackdog Speed Shop wasn’t interested in traditional hot rods per se. They were interested in fast cars, as in race cars, and they had a natural bent for road course arenas. They got their beaks wet in 2002 when they ran Corvettes in SCCA and World Challenge events. They got better. They got ballsier. They got so good people started coming to them to build their race cars … and another business was summarily created. Concurrently, they had been bringing hot rods into the world as well.

With their superior scratch-build skills they can make anything from Showroom Stock T1 C5 Corvettes to Speed GT C6 Corvettes. Now they concentrate on the Pirelli World Challenge series in GTS Sprint, building and racing sixth-gen Camaro GT4.Rs. They’ve won that championship at least three times.

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If it occurs that the two businesses often collide, you’d be right. A fly on the wall told us this story. In 2008, Blackdog made the decision to build a Pro Touring hot rod and based it on a Dynacorn ’69 Camaro body. Sometimes it’s cheaper and quicker to use complete systems wrought by top-notch vendors than to spend the time developing, testing, and building your own stuff. When the Dynacorn project began, Blackdog immediately sourced the chassis and suspension bits from Detroit Speed (DSE). For the bullet, they called Goodwin Competition in Omro, Wisconsin. Goodwin rose up with a bold LS variant.

The DSE suspension was being installed when the prototype 510-incher came through the dock door. So that the Blackdog Camaro could juke like a peregrine falcon, the DSE foundation includes Koni coilover shock absorbers and is braced by gordo Brembos, 14-inch plates with six- and four-piston calipers. Its oversize rollers are lightweight one-piece Forgeline CF1 Black Chrome rims turning 295/35R18 and 355/30R19 Pirelli P Zeros.

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“The team had a race-proven sequential gearbox to put behind it,” said the fly. “Within a few weeks they had a roller … and just like that the work came to a halt. It seemed as quickly as the project had gotten started it now seemed destined to die. The professional racing side of the business needed everyone’s attention. As race wins started piling up and then the championships, the Camaro got pushed into a corner and covered up.”

Several years went by, more team members got hired, and in May 2014 the Dynacorn Camaro was uncovered for what was supposed to be the third and final time. The team decided to debut the car at the Chicago World of Wheels in March of the following year. That left them 10 months to complete; a relatively short period to build a complete car. This restrictive time frame meant that everything had to go right—no paint jail, no upholstery jail, and no late changes in direction.

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As the summer was coming to an end, the fabrication work was concluding and the deadline seemed achievable. Then, another curveball. The team needed to jump on a SEMA show build: the first-ever fifth-gen Camaro Z/28 convertible. For the next six weeks everyone thrashed. And then they took the car to Vegas. Guess what happened next.

They rolled out the Dynacorn stepchild, pulled the tarp off, and proceeded to beat on it once again. Now, time was so short it was like waiting for the executioner, but within an uninterrupted 10-month window they managed to french the bumpers, build custom exhaust outlets in the rear quarters, fabricate a cold-air box, re-create the rear spoiler, and many more custom touches.

They easily forsook the unconventional sequential transmission that was in the original plans and subbed a very conventional TREMEC T-56 supported by the rare DSE weld-in X-member.

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The bellwether 510-cubic-inch long-stroke engine development goes back nearly 10 years. It’s based on a sleeved Racing Head Service aluminum cylinder case; a Callies rotating assembly; CNC-prepped heads; and a splendid, isolated-runner induction manifold. The cylinder heads are custom Brodix LS7 castings with machining-delete items so Goodwin can make the changes they prefer. They are CNC-ported in-house with proprietary, dedicated port size and shape exclusive to this engine package. Intake valves are 2.25-inch and the exhausts are 1.60-inch and situated within 72cc combustion chambers. The valvetrain consists of a custom rocker shaft system with Goodwin stands and Crower stainless steel rockers, Goodwin/Howards custom camshaft with Goodwin-designed mechanical rollers. Before it left Goodwin, the package was tested and validated on the in-house Spintron device. You wouldn’t believe how much noise those parts make when that Spintron spins.

One more word from the fly on the wall: “All cars go through a shakedown period and this one was no different. We have a couple of professional drivers on hand at the shop for expert advice … or to be an instant wheelman. At a local track the car was very quick and our driver reported that the 510 was awesome. Later that day, a piece of windshield trim separated from the car and flew off.” The team members looked at one another with small, guilty smiles. Then one of them said “something was destined to die.”

The fly twitched and then buzzed off crazy like it had a snootful of glue fumes … CHP

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Tech Check
Owner: Blackdog Speed Shop, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Vehicle: 1969 Camaro

Engine
Type: RHS tall-deck cylinder block w/ custom sleeves by Goodwin Competition (Omro, WI)
Displacement: 510 ci
Compression Ratio: 10.9:1
Bore: 4.200 inches
Stroke: 4.600 inches
Cylinder Heads: Brodix custom LS7, CNC-ported, 72cc combustion chambers, 2.25/1.60-inch valves
Rotating Assembly: Callies Compstar crankshaft and Compstar connecting rods, Mahle pistons, Total Seal ring packs, Clevite H-Series bearings
Valvetrain: Custom Goodwin/T&D shaft rocker system with Goodwin stands, 1.8:1 Crower rockers, Smith Brothers pushrods
Camshaft: Goodwin/Howards (0.685/0.665-inch lift; duration proprietary, 115-degree LSA)
Induction: Precision Metal Craft isolated-runner intake manifold, 65-lb/hr injectors, Comtech 95mm throttle body, Rick’s Stainless 16-gallon fuel tank
Ignition/Controller: MoTeC F.I.
Exhaust: American Racing headers, 2-inch primaries, 3 1/2-inch collectors, 3 1/2-inch stainless system, Burns Stainless mufflers
Output (at the flywheel): 789 hp at 6,400 rpm; 692 lb-ft at 5,300 rpm (on 93 octane)
Machine Work: Goodwin Competition
Built By: Goodwin Competition

Drivetrain
Transmission: TREMEC T-56, McLeod flywheel and 11-inch single-disc clutch assembly
Rear Axle: Moser 9-inch, Detroit Locker differential, 31-spline axles

Chassis
Front Suspension: Detroit Speed (DSE) hydroformed subframe, C6 spindles, Koni coilovers, 1 1/4-inch splined antisway bar
Rear Suspension: DSE QUADRALink, Koni coilovers
Brakes: Brembo 14-inch rotors, six-piston calipers, front; Brembo 14-inch rotors, four-piston calipers, rear; dual manual master cylinders

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: One-piece Forgeline CF1 18x10 front, 19x12 rear
Tires: Pirelli P Zero 295/35 front, 355/30 rear

Interior
Upholstery: Riggs Brothers (Chicago area)
Material: Leather
Seats: Cobra carbon fiber, Simpson four-point safety harness
Steering: Rack-and-pinion, ididit tilt column, Billet Specialties wheel
Shifter: Blackdog Speed Shop custom-built
Dash: Stock
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital
Audio: Burns Stainless mufflers
HVAC: Vintage Air

Exterior
Body: Dynacorn
Bodywork: Blackdog Speed Shop (Lincolnshire, IL)
Paint By: Bull Valley Paint and Body (McHenry, IL)
Paint: Axalta Candy Blue
Hood: Ringbrothers carbon fiber
Grille: Stock
Bumpers: Stock, frenched
Ancillaries: Six-point mild steel rollcage

Photos by Dominick Damato

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