As miserably delusional and unoriginal as it may be, every hot rodder dreams of someday scoring a muscle car for peanuts off some chump who has no idea what he's got. If this guy actually exists, he somehow manages to covertly evade detection, as if trained by a CIA operative, or better yet that punk Waldo. Overwhelmingly slim odds aside, Randy Rodgers spotted a potential candidate at a small-town Texas car auction seven years ago and went in for the kill. His target was a clueless-looking dude standing next to a near-perfect '70 Camaro RS, complete with the original 350, four-speed, and 12-bolt rearend. The owner-who won the car as part of a radio station giveaway-had no idea what he was selling, and Randy took the car home for $14,000. Although fate led him to a chance encounter with Waldo, Randy realized it was up to him to make the most of his prized new possession.
Over the years, Randy has owned over 10 different Camaros, but the one he misses the most is a numbers-matching '70 Z28 that he sold in 1992. Buying another second-gen was his way of vicariously re-living his youth, and the car didn't stay stock for long. He immediately installed a set of headers, an Edelbrock intake manifold, and a bigger carb. Nevertheless, the car still felt slow, and Randy realized that he just wasn't as passionate about it as his first '70 Camaro. Fortunately, Randy had passed the Camaro creed down to his son, Ty, who was more than happy to take the second-gen off his dad's hands for a cool $9,000. "He definitely sold it to me for much less than it was worth, but he was happy to keep it in the family, and he knew I would finish it the right way," Ty recalls.
With the father-son handoff complete, Ty left the car unchanged for the first year. While giving the motor a beat-down one day, it threw a rod, which gave him an excuse to tear it apart and build a 383. Wanting a durable yet potent motor capable of propelling the Camaro into the bottom 12s, Ty spec'd it out with an Eagle crank and rods, and matched them up with forged 9.7:1 Speed-Pro pistons. The short-block was topped off with a set of AFR 195cc heads, an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake manifold, and a Barry Grant 750-cfm carburetor. A Comp 240/246-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam actuates the valves, and the exhaust escapes through Dynomax long-tube headers and Flowmaster mufflers. The setup has never been on a dyno, but Ty estimates that output is in the 475-500hp range.
Granted the Camaro was now putting down some respectable forward grunt, but the car was too plain for Ty's tastes. "The car looked great, and the paint and bodywork was beautiful, but I always wanted to build a Pro Touring second-gen," he explains. The induction setup on the new motor wouldn't fit under the stock hood, so Ty used it as an opportunity to beef up the Camaro's appearance with a cowl-induction unit. Pleased with the results, he further enhanced the car's aesthetics with lowering springs and a set of 18-inch Coys C5 gunmetal wheels. Although the Camaro isn't a real Z28, Ty likes the fact that the Coys wheels resemble the shape and color of the original Z28 rollers. "Since the paint on the car was so nice, I knew it would be hard to get the new hood to match. I ended up calling the radio station to find out who they hired to paint the car. Luckily, they still had some paint left over from the original job, and painted the hood to match the body perfectly."
At this point, the Camaro had become the car Ty envisioned from the project's onset, but he craved some more streetability. "The nostalgia of having a Muncie is cool, but it's clunky by modern standards and makes the motor turn too many rpm on the freeway. I knew it wouldn't make me popular with the traditionalists, but I ripped it out and installed a Tremec TKO600 five-speed," he explains. After dropping in an overdrive trans, Ty planned on tweaking the suspension a bit more, upgrading to four-wheel disc brakes, and then putting the wraps on the project. However, the freshly delivered '10 Camaro SS now sitting in his driveway has changed his plans once again. "I thought about putting a big-block in the second-gen, but after driving my '10 Camaro every day, I've fallen in love with the LS3. Here I am in a stock car that weighs nearly 4,000 pounds that's probably just as fast as my second-gen, and way more streetable. I could put EFI on the 383, but it still wouldn't drive as nicely as my fifth-gen or come close to matching it in gas mileage. I like the sound and power of my 383, but I'll probably be replacing it with a cammed LS3 in the near future."
Although it looks the part of a car that costs twice as much money, Ty says he has $25,000 wrapped into the entire project. That's quite a feat, no doubt, one made possible by a killer deal Ty's old man scored in the most unlikely of places. For all the heat auctions have taken in recent years for driving up the prices of old-school iron, it's nice to know that they give back to the community from time to time. All you have to do is find your own Waldo.
Tech Check Owner: Ty Rodgers, San Antonio, Texas Vehicle: 1970 Chevrolet Camaro RS
Engine Type: Chevrolet small-block Displacement: 383 ci Compression Ratio: 9.7:1 Bore: 4.030 inches Stroke: 3.750 inches Cylinder Heads: AFR Eliminator 195cc castings with Manley 2.05/1.60-inch valves Rotating Assembly: Eagle 4340 steel crank and rods; Speed-Pro forged pistons Valvetrain: Comp Cams lifters, valvesprings, timing set, and 1.6:1 rockers Camshaft: Comp 240/246-at-0.050 hydraulic roller; 0.540/0.544-inch lift; 110-degree LSA Intake: Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap dual-plane manifold, Barry Grant 750-cfm carburetor Ignition: MSD billet distributor, coil, 6AL box, and plug wires Exhaust: Dynomax 1.75-inch long-tube headers; Flowmaster H-pipe and dual 2.5-inch muffers Fuel System: Holley mechanical pump and regulator
Drivetrain Transmission: Tremec TKO 600 five-speed, Lakewood bellhousing, stock flywheel Rear Axle: Factory GM 12-bolt rearend with 3.73:1 gears
Chassis Steering: Stock power box Front Suspension: Rebuilt stock with Eibach springs and Edelbrock shocks Rear Suspension: Rebuilt stock with Hotchkis springs, Edelbrock shocks, and Competition Engineering subframe connectors Brakes: Stock front disc and rear drums
Wheels & Tires Wheels: Coys C5 18x8, front; 18x9.5, rear Tires: Nitto 555R 225/40-18, front; 285/30-18, rear
Interior Seats: Procar Rally Carpet: GM black Shifter: Hurst
Exterior Paint: DuPont Orange Cinnamon Mist metallic Hood: Steel Goodmark cowl-induction