One look at Larry Trimmell's Camaro will tell you that this F-bomb didn't fall off a manure wagon. No, one look will tell you it was arranged panel by panel in the style of a handbuilt race car. Indeed, lots of small changes (shaved mirrors) and some very large ones (comprehensive structural modifications) signify this happy metamorphosis.
Larry, the 64-year-old Hutchinson, Kansas, orthodontist tells us, "I always wanted to build a number one car." One that looks as if it might rip your face off, we suspect. He says it happened like this: "I was honkin' down U.S. 50 for an evening shootout in Dodge City and stopped for fuel just outside of Zenith. The site was all but deserted; dust devils hovered, struck, and hovered again, scouring the hard pack and whipping my eyes with shrapnel. The sky was black on the horizon, surreal ... tornado maybe? When I was done at the pump, I heard rustling, then a dry, flapping sound, but thought it was just the wind playing a trick on me. I opened the car door to get in and right there was a turkey buzzard, hunkered down in the passenger seat.
"It cocked its head, flipping a gobbet of rot into the back seat. It glared at me with one speckled yellow eye and, as if in a dream, croaked 'We know about your Camaro addiction, Larry, and soon you'll be making the move to have one built. Forget all about that cheesy LS junk. You want an all-aluminum ripper to make a fantastic big-block. Get my drift, partner? Look at me. Look at me! I promise there'll be hell to pay if you are remiss.' A little while later, I guess it was, I woke up from a nap. It was as if that horror with the 6-foot wings had never been there at all."
Be it providence or a nitrous oxide flashback, Larry began to gather his thoughts on the impending project. What with all those night guards, bite plates, braces, and money to be made, he would certainly have to subcontract the work to experts. A year and half later, his low-down, road-scraping harbinger bumped out of Kenny Davis Hot Rods in Rogers, Arkansas.
But of course, it wasn't all that simple. The road to building this car was fraught with detours, switchbacks, and new beginnings. Before the 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1 (a $5,500 roller) was turned over to the actual car constructor, Hagan Customs, also in Rogers, did a formidable job replacing everything (save for the roof and rockers) on the Camaro's wracked body. Larry's suggestion: "Begin with a builder like Kenny Davis, someone who knows the ins and outs of the national car show circuits and knows the people to contact to build the 'specials' for your car. If you're willing to spend this kind of money [amount unspecified] to build it, get the right builder." Also rely on one Mike O'Riley as the day-to-day project manager who would keep time to a minimum.
As instructed by the vulture, Larry went big-time with the engine, picking the all-aluminum Anniversary Edition 427 (No. 89)-the closest thing on earth to a bona fide ZL1. He couldn't escape the reasoning of the forged rotating assembly and moderate compression ratio (10.1:1), a platform that would respond equally well to forced air induction or nitrous oxide.
Though book-rated at 430 hp, this lightweight meteorite is actually closer to 500. He contracted Street & Performance in Mena, Arkansas, to port and polish the cylinder heads. Larry departed from the carburetor norm, supplanting the 770-cfm Holley with a Hogan's EFI intake manifold monitored by FAST electronics and fed by an Aeromotive A1000 pump. A Y-shaped air intake tract begins with K&N elements and sources cold air at the grille. The rest of the grunt maker is as factory, and now rated conservatively at 510 hp at 5,750 rpm and 493 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm.