Of all the historic venues around the world, Nurburgring has received more attention of late than any other. Serving as a comparative testing facility for many of the world's fastest production cars, it was only a matter of time before this highly capable '68 Camaro SS joined them.
Initially, Clarence Cazimero had simply planned to have his favorite ride "cleaned up a bit" with upgrades to the drivetrain, new paint, and interior improvements, yet within a year-and-a half his Camaro underwent a total transformation. Fitted with a powerful big-block Chevy and highly capable underpinnings, this amazing machine has already been flown to Germany to test its limits on the famed Autobahn and quite possibly at the "Ring."
To achieve the desired results, Cazimero considered several shops to handle the transformation, and in the end contracted Christopher Sondles, Ryan Fahringer, and the crew at Woody's Hot Rodz (woodyshotrodz.com) in Bright, Indiana.
The first stage of this project came with alterations to the original chassis, including the addition of a 2x4-inch front clip from Art Morrison Enterprises. This addition brought with it C5 Corvette A-arms and spindles, Mustang II rack-and-pinion steering, Strange Engineering coilover shocks, and a new level of rigidity never before realized with the factory package. Additional upgrades come by way of large 14-inch diameter Wilwood brake rotors and lightweight six-piston alloy calipers. The combination scrubs off speed with amazing ease.
To keep the rear of this Camaro in check, AME's triangulated four-bar arrangement was combined with another pair of coilovers to locate a specially assembled 9-inch Ford axle housing from Strange Engineering. Fitted with Strange SS axles, the 3.70:1 positraction gearing ensures power heats the pavement. To make sure these components can be tested to the fullest, a set of BFGoodrich G-Force T/A KDWs were united with Foose Nitrous II rims; 17x8s shod with 225/45ZR17s in front and 18x9s wrapped in 275/40ZR18s to plant the ponies out back.
Before the body was joined with the chassis, a strong, streetable drivetrain was fitted behind a 454ci Chevy from BES Race Engines in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Starting with a cast-iron block and GM Performance crankshaft, Eagle rods were joined with Federal Mogul pistons and rings to initialize a manageable 9:1 compression ratio beneath GM Performance cylinder heads. To maximize airflow, a Competition Cams mild hydraulic roller camshaft was chosen with 0.512-inch lift on both sides and duration staggered between 218 degrees on the intakes and 224 degrees for the exhaust.
External additions include an Edelbrock water pump feeding a Be Cool aluminum radiator and and Edelbrock intake manifold fitted with a Holley 770 cfm Street Avenger four-barrel that balances performance with efficiency. As the mixture is evenly distributed, an MSD ignition system lights it off before Patriot headers with 17/8-inch primary pipes and 3-inch collectors vent the remains through a custom exhaust system tuned through Hushpower mufflers. This combination produced 446 hp at a relatively low 4,900 rpm and an impressive 526 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm-numbers that will no doubt put some moves on unwitting Porsche Turbos and AMG Mercedes it leaves in the mirror.
Beyond the combustion process, other suitable components include a Billet Specialties air cleaner and Tru Trac serpentine belt system, an MSD alternator, polished aluminum valve covers and other bits that suit the low-key nature of this Euro-Camaro. Gear changes come by way of a strengthened GM 700R4 automatic from Phoenix Transmissions in Weatherford, Texas. From there the multiplied torque passes through a specially-fabricated driveshaft from Cincinnati Driveline to the differential.
As expected, every component has been detailed with the same level of quality that surfaced topside, combining metal-finished components with painted and coated pieces for an impressive display that is ideally suited for this classic Camaro. As all of this work was coming together, the relatively solid body panels were painstakingly worked over to remove all signs of time before being primed and painted in PPG's deepest black hue by Brett Davis at Woody's Hot Rodz. Here again, nothing was done to take away from this car's original appeal, as the bumpers and most of the trim were simply returned to an original luster. Only the deep gray stripe circling the nose and the 454 emblems it frames were reinvented to set this car apart from its beloved counterparts.
With the paint looking a mile deep and the mechanical aspects of the car fine-tuned and running strong, it was time to install the interior package from Parts Unlimited, Inc. The matching black seating is a natural fit with the beautiful door panels and new dash pad. SoffSeal weather stripping window felts keep outside influences in check while a Custom Autosound head unit powering a combination of Kenwood and Infinity speakers keep Clarence in the groove with his favorite tunes. Add in the new windows from Glass Pro, a Vintage Air climate control system complete with vintage Original Equipment Restoration vents, and time behind the wheel is sure to bring on nostalgic déjà vu.
As you try and wrap you brain around the concept of stretching the legs of this amazing machine where speed limits are fear-imposed, and cherished American creations like this SS Camaro are rarely seen, consider the reaction of Europeans who do recognize American muscle. It's then the thrill and enjoyment of running triple digits on the Autobahn and testing the limits of the 12.8-mile Nurburgring will come full circle.