Wikipedia defines a chain reaction as a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions to take place. Huh?
All we know is that when a guy like Gary Taillon wants to go fast, his natural reaction is to do whatever it takes to make that happen…well, as long he’s in a Camaro. For Gary, it’s been all about F-bodies since he first showed interest in cars early in his teenage years. His first project car, a ’76 Type LT was never entirely completed due to a head-on collision. It wasn’t his fault, but the reaction was three years of physical therapy and a totaled car. The by-product was a sweet ’67 Camaro—a much better outcome. But to Gary, something wasn’t quite right. He just never got dirty and his knuckles were never bloodied with the first-gen. There just wasn’t much to do to the car. Some guys may have preferred that situation, but not Gary.
So when GM announced that 2002 would be the final production year for the Camaro, Gary, in somewhat disbelief, knew the last run of this legendary muscle car would make the perfect vehicle to satisfy his need for speed and style. But a garden-variety ’02 wasn’t going to cut it, so he ordered up an SS with every option available from GM and SLP.
“I’ll never forget that rainy August night in 2002,” Reminisces Gary. “When I went to pick up my new prized possession from the dealer, I couldn’t help but notice the downpour had become increasingly fierce as I walked closer to the car.” Gary shrugged it off as coincidence. After all, nothing, not even a relentless summer downpour could ruin the excitement of taking home a brand new factory hot rod. Well…nothing except maybe Murpy’s law.
An overrated superstition? Maybe. At least that’s what Gary thought until an eventual series of unfortunate incidences led him to believe Old Man Murphy’s spirit had somehow been riding shotgun on a number of occasions. With the front bumper being ripped off by a negligent driver, an uncommon broken stud in the head during a head change, a flex plate showing cracks near every bolt hole, and a number of unexplainable mishaps on the 2004 Hot Rod Power Tour, most anyone would be convinced this car was born under a bad sign. Fortunately Karma (the good kind) had other ideas-for one, leaving Murphy, and anyone else who dare go head-to-head with Gary’s stout fourth-gen, in the proverbial dust.
We first noticed Gary’s ’02 as it sat silently awaiting battle in the staging lanes during the 2008 LSX Shootout at the Memphis Motorsports Park. Even among its nasty peers, the blinding red paint and aggressive stance just made the car stand out above the rest. It looked absolutely sinister, and downright badass.
With the drag strip its home, the familiar straight-line territory plays easily into Gary’s hands. As the light turned green, the Camaro launched violently. We watched in amazement as the rear wheels made minced meat of the first 660-feet of the quarter mile and the front wheels, only briefly, addressed the asphalt between first and second gears. Wrestling the over 590 horsepower for the remainder of the run, Gary crossed the traps in 10.68 seconds at 123 miles per hour. Needless to say, this Camaro is one bad hombre.
Hardly the car Gary started with, the F-body has gone through a number of transformations and upgrades in its relatively short life. “The sole purpose of building this car was to produce a Camaro that would look good and perform outstanding,” Gary states. “Being the last production year of the Camaro, I wanted to give it a menacing stance and adequate muscle to back up the General Motors tradition and preserve the Camaro’s legacy. And even though the car has over 500 horsepower, it was important to me that the car retain some sense of street manners.”