Every project car starts with an idea to spark motivation for the build. In this case, automotive artist Jason Rushforth whipped his pen into action and scratched out an aggressive road-worthy direction for this ride. While some people have the luxury of starting their projects with rust-free, smooth-as-glass sheetmetal, that absolutely wasn't the case with Mike's Camaro. After a lengthy hunt, he found this '70 that appeared to be a good starting point for a project, but as the guys at Classic Auto Specialties in New Caney, Texas, began the bodywork process, they found the car to be in more than rough condition. Hidden beneath the paint were enough layers of body filler to dam a mile-wide river. The only body panels that were salvageable weren't even body panels at all-only the floorpan and trunk pan were worth saving.
Fresh sheetmetal was installed by brothers Mike and Jeff Cassidy. They continued the build while closely following the Rushforth rendering. Mike works as a parts and service director at a local Mercedes dealership, so that explains the Benz Brilliant Silver that was laid down by painter Ron Spencer.
The Camaro's suspension was left up to the experts at Detroit Speed. Their new hydro-formed front subframe was installed along with Detroit Speed coilovers and tubular A-arms. Out back, the Detroit Speed Quadra-Link suspension takes the place of the crusty old leaf springs that we're accustomed to. The rear axle is of the Ford variety-a bulletproof 9-inch that houses a set of 4.10 gears. A pair of Detroit Speed mini-tubs help create caverns large enough to accommodate the meaty BFGoodrich 335/40-18 tires. The shiny set of Rushforth "Whiplash" billet wheels (18x10 up front, 18x12 out back), showcase the Wilwood binders. Six-piston calipers handle the brunt out front, while the rear calipers are of the four-piston variety. It's a suspension and wheel combination that not only performs, but also breeds an aggressive stance that can sometimes elude many second-gen owners.
Motivation for this hot rod relies on the same engine found in the 2010 Camaro: The ever-popular LS3. With 6.2 liters (that's 378 ci for you old-school guys) of displacement, this sweetheart-of-a mill puts out 436 hp in crate engine form. With a mild camshaft and a set of Lemons long-tube headers, there's no doubt this Camaro is pushing 500 hp at the crank. Exhaust is purged through a set of Flowmaster mufflers producing an intimidating rumble that announces the Camaro's presence before rolling through any cruise night parking lot.
Grabbing gears is a high priority to Mike, so he went with the T56 six-speed manual topped with a Hurst shifter. The engine is dressed up with a set of Katech cast-aluminum valve covers and coil relocation brackets. Interior comfort is of big importance to Mike, so a Vintage Air Front Runner and A/C system keeps the cockpit temps in check, especially during the heated summer months.
Sliding into the driver seat, Mike is greeted with a nice Budnik billet steering wheel and a set of custom gauges. The seats are a performance-inspired set of Corbeaus that are sure to keep him in place during the hard cornering that this Camaro is more than capable. The rear seat was narrowed to accomodate the mini-tubs, and custom-upholstered to match the Corbeau seats up front. A Detroit Speed rollbar holds the car together in a much stiffer fashion than what The General had in mind when the car was originally bolted together. But then again, the boys at the factory had no idea their cars would still be making waves like this some 40 years after they rolled off the assembly line.
With just over eight months invested in this build, it's amazing what a team of quality designers, fabricators, and painters can accomplish in such a short period of time. It's this kind of work and attention to detail that pays off down the road. In fact, the Camaro caught our eye on its maiden voyage at a local Houston area cruise.
Future plans include taking the Camaro to several larger shows, but Mike's main intention is to drive the car like it was meant to be: All-out.
Maybe it's just us, but shouldn't that be the intention of all Camaro owners?
We think so.