Factory-built ultra-high-performance Camaros are few and far between, and when one is up for sale the price tag is usually high enough to scare away even the most serious collector. For some, the decision to clone one of these supercars is their only chance to own something that will come close. A good clone, when done right, is still not a cheap undertaking as the proper parts are just as hard to find.
There’s generally not a problem with clones as long as the owner does not try to pass the car off as the real thing to some unsuspecting buyer when it comes time to sell it. What does all this have to do with the beautiful highly modified Camaro on these pages? Well, believe it or not, when Jody Bernard bought this Camaro it was a highly detailed, perfect ZL1 clone restoration with the exception of the factory air conditioning. All the right pieces were there including a Yenko aluminum 427.
Once the ZL1 was in Jody’s hands he started to make modifications right away. The first thing he added was the Speed Pro EFI and a rebuilt 200-4R automatic overdrive tranny. The stock 15-inch rally wheels were soon swapped for a more appropriate set of 17-inch polished five-spokes and some sticky tires. The cast-iron exhaust manifolds and chambered exhaust were replaced with Hooker Super-Comp headers, a Dr. Gas X-pipe, Torque Tech pipes, and Dynomax mufflers (four in all—two Super Turbos and two Bullets).
Jody decided to clean up the engine bay by replacing the factory A/C system with a more compact, lighter, and efficient Vintage Air unit and hid all the lines in the process. The disc/drum braking system was swapped for a Baer Track 1 system that put 13-inch discs up front and 12-inch discs in the rear. In order to improve handling, Bilstein shocks took the place of the factory spiral units. Inside the Camaro, Jody upgraded the stock bucket seats with a set of Corbeau buckets covered in the stock ’69 Camaro upholstery to match the rear seat.
About this same time Jody realized that the only way he was going to get the kind of huge power he wanted out of the big-block was to force the air/fuel mixture into the combustion chambers. His one demand was that the blower had to fit under the hood. After speaking with a few people in the know, he bolted on a ProCharger D-1SC centrifugal supercharger. Once the Camaro was running again he headed over to Dan Fodge at Fodge Engineering for some chassis tuning.
This lasted about two months before Jody once again wanted more. As luck would have it a friend of his decided to sell a Wayne Due subframe that came with Fourth-Gen Corvette components, power rack-and-pinion steering, and coil-over shocks. Jody jumped on this deal quickly knowing that it would give the Camaro the late-model handling wrapped in an early-model envelope he wanted.
Now that the Camaro was looking the way he had envisioned, and the braking and handling were greatly improved, Jody suddenly realized that the engine wasn’t producing as much power as he wanted. Eighty rear-wheel horsepower was added with a pair of CFM Performance ported Canfield aluminum heads along with a solid roller cam and some roller rockers from Comp Cams.
After a few runs to get the fuel and timing set where they needed it to be, they made a final run and were rewarded at the rear wheels with 720 horsepower and 700 ft-lbs of torque at 5,500 rpm. That’s huge power! So much so, in fact, that it shut the dyno down at 5,500 rpm. Jody is now looking for a dyno that will allow the 468 to run up to at least 6,500 rpm and is hoping for 800 to 850 horsepower.
Jody’s Camaro may have started out trying to copy an even greater one, but it has evolved into one that is worthy of standing on its own and leading the way for others.