427 LS7 Camaro - The Jade Grenade

Ro McGonegal Jul 1, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Anymore, you tend to see a whole lot of cars that were built for their owners. It is an expensive place to be. If you live in the same town as the conversion shop, you’re lucky. If not, you really have little or no control over the process even if the parameters were firmly erected at the very beginning of the saga. Sometimes it takes so long that the original concept is overrun and changed for another discipline entirely. So here are a couple of enthusiasts, feet firmly planted and thriving in middle age. Yup, just a couple of gear heads that needed something to do. This would be owner Mark Turner and builder Brian Finch at www.hotrodtransformations.com.

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Two Pro Touring privateers backyard build a bullet in record time

It was much more than that. It was also about a backstory of a simple bonding exercise, flesh and blood instead of cold rolled steel. When asked about the most memorable experience of the process, Brian was immediate: “Building such a great relationship with Mark.” For the record, Mark was involved in all phases of the build and did the wiring, plumbed the fuel system, installed the engine and transmission, and the overall assembly of the icon Camaro. Brian did all the fabrication work, sheet metal replacement, body and paint, hanging the final body assembly, and generally getting his hands dirty. The celebrated David Lewallen of Cleveland, Tennessee, was the tailor.

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The thing is, these boys didn’t want to make a career out of the project, so they humped and then kept humping for four straight months every night and every weekend. And when they finally sat down to slug a beer, they happily discovered that the job was finished and that their families had not forsaken them with the mistress in the garage.

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Brian: “This [build] had a couple of driving forces. One was to prove that the backyard guys can pump out some killer cars in a short amount of time. The other [reason] was to build the owner a car that from the start would be at the level needed to compete with the best Pro Touring cars out there. With the win at the 2010 Nashville Good Guys autocross and the fact that it competed at the 2010 Optima Ultimate Streetcar Invitational, I feel we hit our mark. I feel that with the right driver, this car has what it takes to win a ton more events.

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“Many people do not believe that it was built in such a short amount of time. We documented the entire process on www.pro-touring.com just for the naysayers. The part that made it even more challenging is that we had to replace every single piece of sheet metal. Clearly insane with the timeline we had. We started the build on December 18, 2009 and it was completed a week before the Faceoff at Road America on May 1.

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Of course, there were distractions, several time-robbing events that took precedence. “There were three full weeks we didn’t do anything to it,” Brian admitted. “I went west to attend the RTTC event in Irvine, California, and then stayed another week to go to the Goodguys Del Mar event. I also took a week off to attend the OUSCI premier in Hollywood. The car won the street machine class at GG Nashville and was also chosen as a finalist for the GG Muscle Machine of the Year. I think that was the first time a finalist has done both.”

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Readying the metal for paint was an unending nightmare. Brian replaced every bit of sheet metal, including the freakin’ roof, with pieces that weren’t warped, bullet-holed, or bleeding. He rubbed the envelope down, built rolled pans for front and rear, banished everything that was chrome-plated, powdercoated the bumpers no-color, and added some subtle contrast with an Anvil carbon-fiber ZL2 hood. The medium is ’04 Hummer Grenade Green as per Sikkens base and Autoclear III.

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With the chassis, the boys saved a lot of time by acquiring proven, ready-built systems that come very close to being bolt-in parts. To bolster the front of the Camaro, Brian and Mark chose a complete DSE sub-frame assembly, including spindles, tubular upper and lower control arms, anti-sway bar, Afco M2 coilover double-adjustable shock absorbers with remote fluid reservoirs, and a rack steering system. At the driven end, Brian put up a Strange 9-inch with 3.89:1 cogs and a Truetrac differential with a DSE QUADRALink 4-bar suspension, Afco dampers, and a rear bar. A chassis that resists bending and torsional forces cinches the whole thing together with DSE sub-frame connectors, weld-in cross member, and an eight-point rollcage from 1 1/2-inch chromemoly. To make sure that the fast and bulbous fatties would slip beneath the fenders without interference, Brian installed DSE mini-tubs.

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