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1968 Chevrolet Camaro - Evasive Maneuvers

We put a '68 Camaro g-machine to the test on a road course.

By , Photography by Justin Cesler

Is there anything better than rocketing down a straightaway in a modified first-gen Camaro with your foot buried to the floor? Perhaps one thing: turning at the end of it. Lift, brake, downshift, turn. g-forces press you into the side of a highly bolstered seat. Then it's back on the gas. Hard. We're having some fun now!

Conversely, is there anything worse than a car that has the look, but can't back it up with the performance? Like something with a giant hood scoop feeding an otherwise stock six-banger, there's something about pretenders that rubs us the wrong way. If you've got the Pro Street look with humongous rear tires and half your engine coming out of your hood, you better be able to show much of the motoring world your taillights in an acceleration contest.

Same for Pro Touring. A lot of cars have the look. Carbon-fiber this and that, low stance, and wide wheels with low-profile tires. But can it really hang when the road of life starts throwing you curves? When we saw Bill Panouses' '68 Camaro at our National Collector Car Day Open House in Tampa, we were instantly drawn to the craftsmanship, the highly modified-but-tasteful red interior and the overall sinister look. We loved that he drove it to our office a fairly long distance, despite a dicey weather report that promised he could be spending days cleaning it up afterwards.

As we drooled over every inch and marveled at its numerous one-off touches, we gave him the old, "Boy, we'd love to drive this on a road course and test it for the magazine," to which Bill essentially replied, "Sure. When?" Gee, that didn't take much convincing. His only caveat was that he and builder Tom Argue (of Tom Argue Design, St. Petersburg, Florida) were not 100-percent happy with the fit and finish of the carbon-fiber hood. We gave them some time to get it 100-percent to their liking, then arranged for a track day and photo shoot on the road course at Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Florida. We're happy to report that Bill's car performs as advertised. It's a g-machine that can pull some serious g's.

Unlike most of the handling cars we've tested for Super Chevy, the suspension on Bill's '68 is a combination of systems from different manufacturers. The front clip is all Speedtech components, while the rear is from Chris Alston Chassisworks. While this seems contradictory at first, it's also quite common in the hobby, whether you're building a street car, drag car or corner carver. In this case, it was born out of necessity.

I was doing the build on a budget and wanted to do something different.

"At the time, I followed a lot of threads about Pro Touring-type builds on the internet," explained Bill, who works in the automobile finance industry, and has been building and enjoying classic Chevys since he was a teenager. "I was doing the build on a budget and wanted to do something different. Speedtech's front clip and suspension fit my budget, but they didn't have rear suspension components yet.

"Tom recommended the Chassisworks system. It had just come out and, again, I wanted to try something different."

Evade represents Bill's finest hot rod. While he's done most of the work on all his previous builds, he knew the scope of this project was beyond his capabilities. That's why he enlisted Argue Designs to do the bulk of the work.

The Speedtech front clip uses a Unisteer rack and stock GM spindles with Speedtech tubular A-arms. QA1 coilover springs and adjustable shocks are aided by a Speedtech 1.25-inch sway bar. Brakes are Wilwood Dynapro 6 calipers and 12.19-inch rotors (front and rear). Bill chose Chassisworks' complete Camaro g-bar Canted 4-Bar Suspension System for the rear (PN 5804-F10). There are multiple adjustments available with this system, allowing you to tailor the suspension to your liking. Bill chose VariShock single adjustable coilovers and a 5/8-inch Chassisworks sway bar to round out the rear suspension. Everything was installed by Argue.

Rolling stock consists of bold Forgeline VR3P wheels with grey centers, 18x8.5 front and 19x10 rear (5.90 inches of backspacing at all four corners). The tires are Michelin Pilot Sport 2s (245/40ZR18 and 275/35ZR19).

Power comes from a 6.0-liter LS2 with a set of Livernois Motorsports Stage 2-ported LS6 heads. The cam is also from Livernois, with 0.595-inch lift (intake and exhaust) and 232-degree duration, and the rockers from Jesel. A FAST 92mm intake and throttle body are in charge of induction, while a Walbro GSS340 electric pump and 42-pound injectors supply the dyno juice. Exhaust is handled by Stainlessworks 1-3/4-inch stainless headers and 3-inch exhaust. A Vintage Air black anodized LS front-runner drive system turns the accessories. Evade made 450 rwhp with this mild combination.

The trans is a Tremec T56 six-speed with a Centerforce DYAD dual-disc clutch. We found it to be an ideal combination. We never came close to missing a gear on the track and the clutch itself had good feel, but was not too heavy.

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