1967 Chevy Camaro SS - Jiggs' Rat

Jenkins Competition Rides Again!

Ro McGonegal Apr 1, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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That's what people who were close to Bill Jenkins called him in the early days, Jiggs or Jenks, not Grumpy. That was before he became a celebrity and didn't come until he'd over-extended Jenkins Competition to the point of wanting to slam his forehead into the point of nail. He was grumpy. He was intolerant. At one point, he was responsible for the care of 35 NHRA record holders. "I went on an ego trip," he admitted.

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There was no time to do anything, and when people bothered him with incessant questions, he'd usually turn them off with a gruff demeanor and verbal spit. His technical explanations often went way above most heads-just his way of ensuring that he'd glaze his listener's eyes and make them think twice before asking again. What else would you call somebody like that but Grumpy? If Dave Leisinger of Hartford, South Dakota, has indeed followed Bill since the beginning and has developed a downright fetish for the Pennsylvania country boy, always keen on what he was doing and what he was driving, he obviously never suffered one of Bill's tangy discourses. But maybe he'd have loved it anyway.

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One of Leisinger's favorites was the '67 Camaro that Bill and Joe Tryson assembled for SS/C (375/396) to run the Indy Nationals that year. They repowered it with a 427 and ran SS/Experimental at the '68 Super Stock Nationals and the AHRA Spring Nationals at Bristol. The Camaro soon morphed into Bill's first match race car and that was the impetus for Leisinger to build this acknowledgment.

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Hooking oneself to a well-known quantity is not new. Engine builder Ben Smeding at Smeding Performance got with Bill to schmooze a 572ci package with proprietary cam specs and a custom pump-gas amenable piston dome/combustion chamber design. That's the hook, anyway. Leisinger wanted the body as a slicked-down, stretched-out silhouette devoid of frills, chrome especially, but reeking of subtle detail. To change the pace, Leisinger put his future in the hands of street rod builder Roger Burman at Lakeside Rods and Rides (Rockwell City, Iowa). Burman's minimalist take on the usual Pro Touring/g-Machine ethic is refreshing and recalls lots of old-days how and equal measures of modern-day why not.

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The Camaro was to be a driver all along, an edgy one to be sure, but a driver nonetheless. A big motor and an autocross-eating suspension system require a chassis with lots of torsional rigidity for maximum performance and impact. Leisinger went to The Roadster Shop (Mundelein, Illinois) for a fully boxed 2x3 custom-designed framerails endowed with stock body mount, bumper, and core support locations. The Roadster Shop continued the configuration with a tubular center crossmember and an adjustable drop-out transmission mount in league with mid-brace crossmember with provision for pass-through exhaust pipes. RS also included its Stage III three-position rear ride height feature. In total, the suspension is light years ahead of the leaf-spring-based junk Bill used back in the day. Extreme Custom Powder Coating (Blooming Prairie, Minnesota) preserved the frame for posterity.

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All this provides a sterling platform for the Detroit Speed components that include C6 steering knuckles, rack steering, tubular control arms, a hollow, splined antisway bar, and coilover shock absorbers that provide the 4-inch drop in front. The Roadster Shop guys balanced the assembly at front with a 9-inch housing in the middle of a DSE Quadralink four-bar system abetted by coilovers. The brakes and wheels got big 14-inch Wilwoods with six- and four-piston clamps that blend in behind painted spiders on the 18x8 and 20x12 Billet Specialties SLC85 spokes that Leisinger slathered with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 225/35 and 335/30ZR rubber.

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