Top 10 Camaros Of The Year - Best Of The Best

With Long Intense Staff Meetings And Input From Our Readers, We Bring You The Best Camaros Of 2010.

We introduced our Top 10 Camaros of the year two years ago. Typically assembled in the February issue, it's a collection of elite cars that we feel deserve one more look before we head into the New Year and begin focusing on what's ahead. It has become somewhat of a tradition, and in the process, has developed into one of our most popular newsstand issues of the year.

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For the two previous "Best Of" issues, the Camaro Performers magazine staff held closed-door meetings and dissected about 40 car features as criteria to decide the 10 Best Camaros of that year. We actually picked out 11 because we couldn't agree on which one to throw back. Unfortunately, the same thing happened this year, only worse: since we consider every car featured in Camaro Performers magazine to be special in some way, whittling down the list was a highly difficult task. Suffice it to say, picking just 10 cars that deserved special mention was more cumbersome than in years previous, so we went ahead and chose 12 and decided to call this elite group the Best of the Best. To be completely honest, choosing just 12 cars wasn't enough, either, so we went with a "baker's dozen" and picked out 13 of the best Camaros of 2010.

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The deciding factors that drove these special rides into consideration vary from car to car, but keep in mind big dollar builds don't automatically make the grade here. In some cases a badass demeanor, sheer attitude, and wicked horsepower were enough to pump any given Camaro up the ladder.

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With those factors taken into account, this year's "Best of the Best" was carefully assembled by the Camaro Performers magazine staff, John the lunch truck guy, and a few sales people who were roaming the halls when we needed a "tie-breaker" decision. We even got the guys from Street Rodder magazine, with whom we share the same office space, to put in their two cents.

But seriously, it takes some amazing talent, great ideas, and years of experience to put together a car that looks better or can out-perform the one parked next door. So this elite collection of Camaros is dedicated to those who went that extra mile and paid special attention to the little details that make their car stand out from the masses.

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We really enjoy hearing from our readers, so if you feel we missed the mark on some of our picks, feel free to write us and express your opinions at camaroperformers@sorc.com.

Owner: Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Car: 2001 Intimidator SS Camaro
Issue: January 2010
Photographer: Nick Licata

Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the most kick-ass, no-nonsense NASCAR driver of his day-many would argue the greatest in the sport's history. He built his reputation on doing whatever it took to win-which he did often. So, when he decided to get behind the limited edition Berger/GMMG Intimidator SS Camaro, the car would no doubt reflect Earnhardt's style. The sinister-looking cars feature a combination of old-school cues in a late-model hot rod. Dale was insistent on using 17x9-inch American 200S wheels, and the Hurst short-throw shifter and silver-faced gauges reflect Earnhardt's classic Winston Cup Monte Carlo. Rated at 371 hp, the idea was to build late-model street-friendly muscle cars. And that's just what they are.

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As luck would have it, and being huge Earnhardt fans (Jr. and Sr.), Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his brother Mike were on a personal tour of Earnhardt's shop one day prior to the Intimidator's unveiling. That enabled them to get a sneak peek at a prototype. They were instantly sold and were the first to order up one each of the limited production rides.

Prior to this photo shoot, Jeg's Intimidator had just 316 miles on the clock. It's a true sign that Jeg's Intimidator is a collector's piece. With just 83 built, and only 33 sporting signed gauges by Dale Earnhardt (he died before signing all 83), we'd say this is one car to hold on to.

Owner: Larry Callahan
Car: 1968 Camaro
Issue: January 2010
Photographer: Robert McGaffin

In March of 2000, Larry Callahan's Camaro wasn't road worthy, but his website www.Pro-Touring.com was cooking right along. He started the site in 2000 with the purpose of posting photos of his project as it progressed. As time marched on, the site began to haul ass-his Camaro, not so much. Up until 2008, the car was just a pile of pieces in his garage. With little time to work on the car, motivation, or lack of it, became an issue. Fortunately, a core member of the www.Pro-Touring.com community, Frank Serafine of Prodigy Customs, offered to build the car and display it at the 2008 SEMA show. Needless to say, Larry shipped the car 2,200 miles for the overhaul. Forty-two days later, MotiV8r debuted at SEMA with a Dart Little M 407ci mill sporting twin Turbonetics 60-1 HI-FI Turbos. Larry's hot rod is now one of the most recognized Pro Touring Camaros on the road today. The story alone is enough to make our list, but this beautiful piece must be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

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Car: 1992 Camaro
Owner: Tom Nichols
Issue: February 2010
Photographer: Eric McClellan

We get tons of emails regarding the lack of third-generation Camaros gracing the pages of Camaro Performers magazine. Thankfully, Tom Nichols of Arden Hills, Minnesota, was able to purchase a fallen hero's Camaro and rebuild far beyond its past glory. That hero: his father. The car: his father's '92 Camaro.

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While flipping through the pages of the Auto Trader, a seemingly familiar '92 caught Tom's eye. To make a long story short, an elderly couple had bought it from Tom's family estate sale years earlier, but could no longer manage working the clutch pedal, so they put it up for sale. Needless to say, Tom purchased the car, and over the period of a few years, restored and rejuvenated it the way he thought his father would have. With an LT1 massaged to a 383, this gorgeous third-gen now makes 449 hp to the tires.

The story alone makes this car worthy as one of our Best of the Best picks, but the beautiful job Tom has done on this car solidifies a spot on our list.

Car: 1967 RS Camaro
Owner: James Shipka
Issue: February 2010
Photographer: Steven Rupp

James Shipka's '67 is quite possibly the poster car for what the Pro Touring movement is all about. It's built with many of the creature comforts featured in a modern car, its high-end suspension rivals that of any late-model sports car, and the 427ci LS7 belts out over 603 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque. The paint is immaculate, but James drives the crap out of it anyway. He races it almost every chance he gets. Case in point: in 2010 alone he's competed in the Silver State Classic, Nevada Open Road Challenge, One Lap of America, the Optima Street Car Invitational, and numerous other road course and autocross events.

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James' ride is proof that those folks up in the Great White North know how to do Camaros. Follow the One Lap Camaro at www.onelapcamaro.com. Better yet, check it out when it comes to a town near you. But hurry; this '67 doesn't sit around very long.

Car: 1969 Camaro
Owner: Jason Stavola
Issue: May 2010
Photographer: Nick Licata

Detroit Speed Inc. is known for engineering the most functional suspension systems on the road for classic muscle cars. Starting with Camaros, they've worked their way through most of GM's classic muscle car lineup and bolted up their high-end components right where they need to be to make a vintage Chevy handle like a modern car. What some might not know is that they also build some of the baddest, show-winning, turnkey hot rods on the planet. Jason Stavola knew this and had the crew at DSE build this immaculate '69. It features a glass-like, high-gloss black finish and yes, it's loaded with all the trick DSE suspension components. Baer's 14-inch rotors and 6S six-piston calipers ride on each corner to tame the 560-plus ponies to a halt in a jiffy.

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We hear Jason and his '69 often lurk in the streets of New Jersey and have no problem exercising the fact that it's one bad hombre.

Car: 1967 Camaro
Owner: Dave Leisinger
Issue: April 2010
Photographer: Josh Mishler

Dave Leisinger has vivid memories of Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins running his '67 Super Stock Camaro at the 1968 Indy Nationals and AHRA Spring Nationals. With those visuals etched in his mind for over 30 years, Dave couldn't help but pay homage to that famous Camaro when he put together the idea of a G-machine complete with a Smeding Performance/Jenkins Competition 572ci package worthy of 850 hp. The Roadster Shop custom-bent and boxed the 2x3 framerails, then loaded it with DSE suspension goodies. Completed by Roger Burman and the team at Lakeside Rods and Rides in Rockwell City, Iowa, the Camaro's paint scheme is reminiscent of that record-holding Super Stocker from back in the day. The "Grumpy's Toy" and "Jenkins Competition" logos can be seen in just the right light viewed from just the right angle. Even though the car was built with show-winning details (and there are many of them), Dave humps it through the autocross with the best of 'em.

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The craftsmanship alone makes this an easy pick for our Best list, but the fact that Dave drives it like Grumpy would have back in the day makes it even cooler.

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Car: 2010 RS/SS Camaro
Owner: Dan Long
Issue: May 2010
Photographer: Robert McGaffin

With the latest incarnation of the Camaro finally hitting showrooms in 2009, it didn't take long for aftermarket companies to come up with upgraded suspension components, body kits, horsepower adders, and everything else to feed the appetite of the speed-hungry fifth-gen Camaro owners. The guys over at Unrestricted Motorsports in Phoenix, Arizona, were on top of the curve as they were knee deep into the body mods for the Pontiac G8. But when GM announced the demise of the Pontiac brand, Unrestricted began to focus their energy on the '10 Camaro. The car features their front fascia, side skirts, rear spoiler, Pfadt suspension components, and Forgeline ZX3P wheels. With inspiration drawn from the '63 Grand Sport Corvette, the paint scheme nicely fits this modern Camaro. Not only does the car look great; it was one of the top late-model Camaros at the 2009 Ultimate Street Car Challenge in Pahrump, Nevada.

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Car: 1969 RS Camaro
Owner: G-Force Design Concepts
Issue: June 2010
Photographer: Robert McGaffin

We spied this killer '69 at the 2008 SEMA show and wanted to feature it ever since. Finally able to work out the logistics for a photo shoot a little over a year later, the chore was well worth the wait. Jason Huber and his crew at G-Force Design Concepts build aggressive-looking cars that appear to have more attitude than should be allowed in one car. This '69 Camaro, aptly named "Devious," is the calling card for what comes out of their shop. It's loaded with tons of horsepower (850 at the crank) and some of the most serious suspension components out there (Art Morrison GT subframe, C6 Corvette spindles and A-arms up front, DSE QUADRALink out back). The gold HRE wheels, white paint, and euro-style body stripe add a somewhat "Tuner" feel to the car. The whole ensemble just culminates into one badass Camaro. We like that.

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Car: 1969 Camaro
Owner: Larry Trimmel
Issue: July 2010
Photographer: Josh Mishler

This Kenny Davis-built gem is another high-end Camaro we've had our eye on for quite some time. Unfortunately, something kept getting in the way of our quest to get the photo shoot done. Finally in late 2009, we cornered Kenny and penciled in a day to shoot the car. There are several factors that make this car special, but the all-aluminum Anniversary Edition 427 (no. 89) is the closest thing to a real deal ZL1. With all the porting and tweaks, it's conservatively rated at 510 hp. The Davis crew pulled out all the stops on this killer ride. One would have to exercise multiple takes of this car in order to soak up all the custom nuances. Show car? You bet, and a top-quality one at that. The Street Rodder magazine guys were especially digging this one.

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Car: 1999 Camaro
Owner: Mike Farley
Issue: June 2010
Photographer: Tommy Lee Byrd

Fourth-gen Camaros make sick drag cars. Their sleek body style and narrow nose just lend itself to top-end speed. Mike Dunlap calls I-40 Dragway in Crossville, Tennessee, his home track, where he gets in plenty of testing with his wicked nitrous-fed 434ci small-block combination. At a time when most guys are putting LS power in early Camaros, Mike went against the grain and did just the opposite with his fourth-gen. Mike takes care of the car and it shows from the detailed engine bay to the super-clean interior. Just don't look under the rear of the car. It launches so hard, the asphalt has met the rear valance on a number of occasions and contributed to some hefty scaring. It's a shame to abuse the gorgeous Hugger Orange pigment, but that's racing and it's what this car was built to do. With a best time of 5.561 in the eight-mile, we'd have to say this 3,250-pound rocket gets our nod as one of the Best of 2010.

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Car: 1967 Camaro
Owner: Karen Leisinger
Issue: December 2010
Photographs: Nick Licata

To say Karen Leisinger's '67 is unique would be a "slight understatement." But that's the only time you would use that term around this cross-pollinated first-gen/fifth-gen Camaro. It'll take more than a few second takes for even the most seasoned Camaro connoisseur to fully recognize its first-generation heritage. Karen calls the car Scar-a term not of negativity, but one that represents the cutting, hacking, and massaging that took place in order to get the '67 to accept the many '10 sheetmetal pieces. For some, this car might fall under the guise of "love it, or hate it," but the fact that it took home the prestigious Goodguys Street Machine of the Year back in July of 2010 speaks volumes about the craftsmanship that went into this car. Roger Burman and his talented team at Lakeside Rods and Rides know fabrication, and Karen's unique hot rod says so.

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Car: 1970 Camaro
Owner: Teddy Niotis
Issue: July 2010
Photographer: Robert McGaffin

Teddy Niotis' second-gen Camaro is one of those cars that carry a unique story behind the build. Going through some serious medical issues, Teddy needed something to keep his mind off his health, and building his dream car was the perfect vehicle to deliver the medicine. With a steady flow of good friends regularly stopping by to help Teddy with the build, his dreams of owning one of the cleanest Pro Touring second-gens soon became reality. The stance and handling come by a multitude of suspension companies. Global West (lower control arms) and Speed Tech (upper control arms) take care of business up front, while the combination of Hotchkis and QA1 handle the rear. The 383 stroker capped with a Magnacharger M112 supplies Teddy with enough steam to keep the drive exciting: somewhere to the tune of 540 hp. Yes, the car has an interesting story, but it's also a quality build with one hell of a demeanor, which makes it part of our Best of the Best list.

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