Karen and her husband Dave Leisinger are hardcore Camaro enthusiasts. We might even be so bold as to call them "Camaro freaks"-a term of endearment, of course. They've even gone so far as to pass their enthusiasm of first-gen F-bodies on to their two boys: Josh and Jared, both Camaros owners themselves. Could it be, "A family that owns Camaros together stays together?" It works for them. At 19 years of age, their oldest owns a '68 SS. The younger lad is a Yenko fan so, between homework assignments during the elementary school year, he chipped in on the build of his '67 tribute. Did we mention that he's 11?
We first ran into the Leisingers at the Columbus Goodguys show in 2009 where Dave brought out his immaculate '68 Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins tribute Camaro to compete for the 2009 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year. Although the Jenkins ride got high marks and went deep in the competition, it failed to take home the SMOY award.
That was then, and this is now, 2010 would be the year for Karen to bring out her Camaro to compete for the prestigious SMOY award. Seeing how the competition played out in 2009, Karen knew she would have to bring something more than special to the show. It would have to be different, yet not to the point of removing it's soul. Like many Camaro fans, she instantly fell in love with the fifth-gen Camaro, but her dedication remained with the first-gen. "There is so much fun and excitement that goes along with building a car, and I really like the looks of the '10 Camaro," said Karen. "But I didn't want to just go out and buy a new Camaro, so I thought 'why not have the best of both worlds and build a '67 with some of the finer parts of the new Camaro?' So I called artist Eric Brockmeyer and told him about my idea. I also mentioned that I wanted to build a Street Machine of the Year winner. He worked on some renderings and came up with a concept that featured some front and rear design elements of the '10 Camaro." And just for good measure, they added an actual roof from the '10.
"At this point we knew it would take a shop with an extremely talented team to handle this one. We've worked with Roger Burman and the crew at Lakeside Rods and Rides in the past," Karen mentions. "They did a fantastic job on Dave's 'Grumpy' tribute car last year, so we knew Roger's team could handle this."
So, with the donor '67 ready for a resurrection and an extensive list of body modifications on tap, the process would be rather timely. To make things even more difficult, parts off the '10 Camaro weren't yet for sale à la carte, so having the car ready in time for the Columbus event was certainly an issue.
Once the Lakeside crew got started on the car, and the cutting, stitching, and stretching began, Karen thought the early modifications in the sheetmetal actually looked like scars. "Even though I knew they would be covered up upon completion, with the amount of power this car will dish out, it will easily leave two scars on the asphalt," quips Karen. "That's basically how the name came about."
With most of the focus laid on the exterior, Karen knew the car would need enough power to coincide with the highly modified body lines, so an LSX block accommodates GM L92 heads stuffed with 10.7:1 hypereutectic pistons. A GM hydraulic roller cam with 226/236 duration and 0.525 lift join the supporting cast of GM internals. An Edelbrock electric fuel pump keeps the thirsty Holley 750 double pumper quenched should Karen put her weight on the "fun pedal," which is more often than not. And with 600 hp readily available at the touch of her toes, how could she not?
The engine bay is a sanitary example of a standard Burman build. What might seem simple at first glance becomes a complex bevy of precisely cut, bent, and smoothed sheetmetal carefully administered not to distract from the star of the show: the engine. In this instance, not one piece takes away from another. The custom-painted Edelbrock aluminum valve covers and Vintage Air Front Runner pulley system compliment the scene while the tubular mesh of stainless Detroit Speed Inc. headers add the necessary aggression to the otherwise stealthy ensemble. Cooling is provided by a PRC aluminum core support back loaded with dual electric fans residing under the custom Lakeside engine cover.
The custom work continues with the Lakeside-sculpted, Extreme Powder Coating powdercoated 3-inch exhaust system. From there, the one-off arrangement surrenders spent greenhouse into a set of Flowmaster 44 mufflers for a fitting growl.
A custom steel Denny's driveshaft readily handles twist handed down by a hearty Gearstar level 5 2004R transmission fitted with a Yank torque converter and custom Gearstar 3500 stall valve body. A Detroit Tru Trac distributes power via a DSE-assembled Ford 9-inch rearend and Moser axles and center section.
Scar was built to perform in any situation on any given day. Equipped with enough sheer power for the drag strip, Karen then focused on the handling aspect and enlisted DSE for their top dog suspension package featuring a hydroformed front subframe decked out with a power rack-and-pinion steering system, a splined sway bar for added strength and stiffness, and C6 spindles. Out back, the DSE Deep Tubs provide the necessary stomping ground for wide rubber and DSE's Quadra-Link rear suspension. Baer 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers on all four corners provide Karen with the aggressive stopping performance on and off the track. Boze Hi Octane, black satin-finished wheels (18x8 up front and 20x12 out back) are wrapped in Michelin PS2 rubber (243/35-R18 front and 335/30-R20 rear).
With the cross pollination of old versus new the dominant feature of the overall build, the interior would have to mesh with the modern flair of the exterior. Once again, Eric Brockmeyer got the nod for the concept while the Burman gang, along with the help of Classic Instruments and JB Microfinish, made the one-of-a-kind instrumentation a reality. A fully hand-fabricated, metal dash house the custom gauge package then carries around to the top section of the doors à la a modern Camaro. Weber Custom Interiors provided the backdrop while a Momo Millenium EVO black leather steering wheel and Corbeau seats grant the business quarters with a functional entourage to keep Karen stuck in the seat and on the road.
An Alpine head unit complete with CD and DVD player rely on Rockford Fosgate 6x9 speakers to keep the cockpit lively on long drive situations. No amps or subwoofers here; it's a conscious decision to keep the car down to fighting weight.
Roger Burman and the Lakeside team are known for building some of the most unique yet functional hot rods in the industry, and Scar is quite possibly the most distinct Camaro of the first-gen genre. The fabrication and precise sheetmetal manipulation are nothing short of spectacular. From the front grille to the rear roll pan, the bar has been elevated in the execution of mixing modern flair with vintage psyche.
Slathered in a custom mix of PPG yellow pearl and orange, the exterior welcomes the Curt Bacon-applied satin black graphic as a reminder to the sporty heritage of the classic piece. The louvered hood is a carbon-fiber compilation between Lakeside and Gemini Custom Composites, which work as a forceful addition to this sinister street machine.
Karen is convinced that this yearlong build was well worth the wait, and she describes winning the 2010 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year as the most memorable experience to date.
"I couldn't be happier with how this car came out," said Karen. "I want to thank Eric Brockmeyer for his concept as well as Roger, Wiz, and the crew at Lakeside Rods and Rides. Their attention to detail and creative foresight are second to none."
For those who think this car will be just another "all-show-and-no-go" build, don't bet on it. We've seen Karen hammer this car after leaving the photo shoot location. This woman has a seriously heavy right foot and the Camaro to handle it.