Do you know what it feels like to hop in a C6 ZO6 Corvette, strap yourself in, summon the massive horsepower with your right food, and aggressively “finesse” your way around the famous Watkins Glenn International road course? I sure don’t, but Dave Brooks does. He spends a few weekends a year at “The Glen” exercising his right to beat on his late-model hot rod with his local SCCA chapter at the same track NASCAR’s “good ol’ boys” call home every August.
While Dave was getting his g-force fix behind the wheel of the ‘Vette, he had some great memories of a white ’67 Camaro he had back in high school running through his head. The thoughts were persistent and often—somewhat nagging, if you will. It got to the point where he decided to give in and build one. But this car would be “slightly” different than the one yanking on his brain from his high school days—one that he’d be able to drive on the street and could handle on a road course or autocross similar to his 'Vette.
Iheard about Schwartz Performance making full frames for first-gen Camaros that could pull 1.08 g’s on a skidpad,” reflects Dave. “I also remember Jeff Schwartz building an ’82 Cadillac Fleetwood that would run with Vipers and Corvettes around the track.”
In order to find a project car, Dave did the typical online search (we’ve all done it … once) and was swayed by a “perfect, no rust” convertible that was basking in the desert sun of Bullhead City, Arizona. Ah, an Arizona car; it’s probably in great shape with no rust, right? Wrong.
Jeff Schwartz remembers it like this: “Dave bought the ’67 sight unseen and shipped it directly to us for a body-off restoration, and to slip one of our F-body chassis under it. Unfortunately, the floors and trunk had been replaced, and the work was not done very well. They were lightly tacked-welded in and had been silicone sealed over welds. Apparently, the car had twisted and moved when the floors were out because none of the doors and windows lined up. Neither did the hood or deck lid. This car was a total mess.”
Jeff called Dave to inform him the car he’d purchased was, for the most part, a worthless carcass. So instead of trying to resuscitate the deformed and crusty shell, both realized the better way to go would be to just order up a new Dynacorn body from Year One and trash the skeletal remains of the “Bullhead City rust bucket.”
The Schwartz gang got started on the fresh skin, mini-tubbed it and mounted it to their fully upgraded F-body chassis. The car was finally under way.
With Schwartz taking charge, a GM LS3 would be the bullet of choice. Armed with mostly off-the-shelf GM internals, a Lunati crank and COMP hydraulic roller camshaft featuring a Schwartz custom grind, provide the necessary horsepower bump in the higher rpm range.
Running the stock intake, a set of black ceramic-coated Schwartz 1⅞-inch long-tube headers dump the spent fuel into a custom bent crossover exhaust system, which finishes off into a SLP Loudmouth 2 ensemble.
Schwartz estimates the effort to come in at 550 hp at 6,400 rpm and 450 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm. Not considered monstrous in today’s world of big horsepower LS concoctions, but certainly enough to motivate the ragtop around “The Glen” in a jiffy. It would also provide Dave a reliable street machine for daily driving and long road trips.
A Fluidyne oil cooler tucked up front keeps the crude in check, while a BeCool aluminum radiator chills the juices throughout. A Vintage Air Gen IV A/C system and Powermaster 120 amp alternator share a ride on the Schwartz billet serpentine drive system. And the unique firewall crossbrace—Schwartz fabbed that up, too.
A car that’s enlisted for road course or autocross duty benefits from a manual transmission, so a Temec T56 got the nod but only after the crew at RPM Transmissions provided their Level 5 upgrade. A Winters 9-inch rearend stuffed with 3.70:1 cogs and a Moser third member make certain the ‘vert stays planted and intact off the launch pad.
Racing a late-model Z06 on a road course is a shot in the arm, for sure. It’s a performance car of high expectations, but Dave was also looking forward to the experience of taking a vintage muscle car through the same challenges as his 'Vette. To meet his high-end cornering expectations, the aforementioned Schwartz chassis was fitted with 2-inch drop spindles along with tubular A-arms up front. With the four-bar coilover suspension bringing down the rear 2 inches, the stage was set but not completed until the QA1 double adjustable shocks were mounted on all four corners.
Slid behind the Forgeline SS3P wheels (18x9 front, 18x12.5 rear) the quadruple helping of 14-inch Wilwood plates manage a sincere stopping arrangement and award Dave steeper speeds going into the corners. Michelin PS2 rubber (255/35-18 front, 335/30-18 rear) confirms the juiced suspension works to the top its abilities.
As with most cars of the Pro Touring scene, a race-inspired theme is heavily pronounced throughout the driver’s quarters. Sparco leather-covered seats offer a comfort zone for the pilot and passenger, while the R.J.S. five-point harness provide a secure strategy. The cockpit’s racing inspiration continues with the Autometer gauges, B&M shifter, and custom console. A Schwartz six-point rollcage offers the necessary safety measures with an additional dose of chassis stiffness. Those are Year One door panels, with fresh glass provided by NPD.
Schwartz Performance prepped the fresh sheetmetal while Chad Ruff splashed on the PPG Marina Blue pigment and Mark Turner applied the white stripe package. Motorsports Powder Coating matched the paint and managed the final touches to what has developed into a first-gen convertible that’s mellow enough for everyday street driving or weekend fun ripping up the turns at any road course or autocross.
It’s yet to be determined weather or not Dave’s beautiful convertible is capable of keeping up with his Corvette at the track, but without a doubt, this powerful Camaro will have no problem keeping up the the Jones,’ or any other family’s hot rod roaming his hometown streets of Buffalo, New York.
Apparently, the car had twisted and moved when the floors were out because none of the doors and windows lined up. Neither did the hood or deck lid. This car was a total mess.”