Your odds of outrunning a cop never were good, but they just got a whole lot worse. Officer Douglas has a Camaro. And if you run, he’s gonna catch you.
Fred Douglas squirms a little bit every time he reads the officer part. To be fair, he’s now Detective Douglas for the Gig Harbor Police Department. And despite what screenwriters want us to believe, detectives aren’t so likely to engage in high-speed pursuits. But still, there’s something cinematic about an authority paid to enforce laws who drives something that can break them so effortlessly.
His ’67 owes its law-breaking facility largely to a healthy 383 – a party piece that drew Douglas’ attention on eBay. “The dude selling it had sold about nine cars before and had good feedback,” he said, hinting how Texas was too far out of his jurisdiction to do anything if the car wasn’t as advertised. “I was still skeptical as hell but decided to risk it,” he concluded.
And relieved too, at least the day it arrived. “The car came out of the transporter and sounded awesome,” he said. “The body was a little rougher than I hoped, but it was still a cool car.
“Of course it happened to snow the day I was supposed to meet the truck, and he ended up being late (so). That wasn’t a lot of fun.” The stance that made the car look so cool on paper looked especially bad in light of the last 30 feet to his house. “I couldn’t clear my driveway,” he groused. “I had to construct some cheesy homemade wooden ramps just to get it in.” But just as every cloud has a silver lining, this one dictated the car’s course. “It convinced me to first do a RideTech setup.”
Douglas, with help from Mike Ryan at Ryan’s Hot Rod Repair and Howard Mackert at Mackert Automotive, transformed the car. They preserved the stock subframe and spindles but amended them with RideTech’s Strong Arms and anti-roll bars. A Strange Engineering 12-bolt-style housing with a 3.73 cog on a limited-slip gear carrier replaced the smaller peg-leg axle. Rather than on leaves, it mounts to a RideTech Air Bar. Naturally, the car rides on Shock Waves front and rear.
The body remains basically unaltered. Ralph Douglas at Ralph’s Customs in Gig Harbor amended the problems and shot it with PPG’s Concept version of GM’s Torch Red. In fact, the only notable differences are the retrofit LED taillights and 383 badges.
At the heart of that engine are an Eagle crankshaft and connecting rods. The 11:1 static compression produced by Wiseco pistons and Dart Iron Eagle heads sounds high for pump gas, but it’s a possible (and necessary) figure in light of the radical profile on the COMP Cams Xtreme Energy mechanical-roller-tappet cam. COMP’s roller rockers mitigate the guide wear common to fast-ramp cams.
An Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap manifold distributes fuel atomized by a Holley HP-series 750cfm carburetor. Mike Ryan at Ryan’s Hot Rod Repair tailored the MSD ignition’s advance curve to meet the engine’s needs. Hooker 1¾-inch diameter headers black ceramic coated by Performance Coatings merge the gases into 2½-inch diameter pipes and Flowmaster 40-series Delta Flow mufflers.
The engine churns out 495 lb-ft of torque at 5,600 and 480 hp at 6,400, but it’s a testimonial to smart, economical design. For starters, Douglas retained the factory parts that made sense. Thermostatic-clutch fans, for example, don’t rob a single horsepower when they’re not needed yet move air far better than any other design when necessary. Copper/brass radiators weigh a few pounds more than their alloy counterparts but copper transfers heat more efficiently. The Edelbrock water pump knocked a few pounds off and the Moroso accessory-drive system was a durable means to keep the alternator on the driver side despite the long pump. The 190-amp MSD alternator is a bit of a splurge, but the audio system and future electronics sort of justify it. The Proform rockers were an inexpensive and understated way to make room for the larger valvetrain.
The interior follows the exterior’s theme: basically stock but with a few modest performance updates like an Autometer shift light and a Budnik Stiletto steering wheel. It also features a rather elaborate audio system. The centerpiece: a Pioneer head unit. Only rather than spoil the dash with it, Travis Leonard at ICON Audio, hid it in the glove box and the iPod connection in the ashtray. He similarly concealed the RideTech controls in the stock center console.
Leonard also installed Sony amplifiers and speakers. He also cleverly mounted a JL Audio subwoofer by fabricating its enclosure to fit in the left rear quarter panel. For the other side, he created a dummy panel with a clear-acrylic insert and adorned it with RS graphics.
“It has been an ongoing project since I got it,” Douglas admitted, explaining the perils of balancing a family, work, fledgling company that specializes in customizing die-cast cars (GigPig Customs—get it?), and a car that exists solely for his entertainment. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that he updated the car with Rushforth Whiplash wheels. They measure 18 and 19 inches—sufficiently large to showcase the 12- and 13-inch Wilwood rotors and four-pot calipers. With a 4½-inch backspace on a 7-inch rim, he fit 235/40ZR-18 BFGoodrich KDW tires under the fenders. With the same backspace on 8-inch-wide wheels, he fit 275/40ZR-19s in the stock rear wells.
The big wheels and brakes set the car’s current high-speed handling theme, one that wasn’t best served with the direct-drive high gear in the transmission that came with the car. “This past winter my friend Dave Plummer helped me put in a TKO 600 five-speed,” Douglas noted. It links to the engine via a Centerforce clutch, and he shifts it with a Hurst stick. “I’m loving the overdrive,” he concluded.
While he built his ’67 for pursuit, Douglas admits it’s to chase numbers, as in lap times. “This is the second ’67 Camaro I’ve owned,” he noted. “My first one was stock and I wanted a muscle car that I could drive, show, and autocross.”
That’s not to say he wouldn’t take the opportunity to pursue an illicit street challenge should the opportunity arise. But we’re warning you; losing a race to Detective Fred Douglas could be humbling in more ways than one.