It’s not often when a Ford Mustang is the conduit to someone taking ownership of a Chevy product, especially a Camaro. In the muscle car world, the brand rivalry is that of epic proportion and their relationship is equivalent to oil and water. But Leonard Borman, owner of Gearhead Performance in Dunedin, Florida, doesn’t claim Blue Oval loyalty, nor is he a member of the Bow Tie faithful. What he is, though, is a muscle car fanatic and his quest for big horsepower put him behind the wheel of a ’90 Mustang that belched out a relentless 980 rwhp. “I was driving the Mustang around one day when I smelled fuel,” recalls Leonard. “Before I could make it back to the shop, the car was on fire. The main fuel line had broken and sprayed fuel all over the downpipe. Before the fire truck got there, the car had 20-foot tall flames coming out of the engine bay.”
With the Mustang toast, he needed a new project to keep his blood flowing. “My first car was a ’71 Camaro that my dad and I were restoring but never finished, so I ended up selling it,” remembers Leonard. “Since then, I always wanted to build another second-gen—a Pro Touring car that I could drive anywhere, road race, and take out to an autocross.”
Leonard and his cousin Brad Coomer made their yearly trek to the Turkey Rod Run in Daytona Beach, Florida, in hopes of finding a nice Camaro that would fit the bill. It didn’t take long before they came across this ’72. Brad did the haggling and got the owner to agree on a price that fit Leonard’s budget. Excited about the new purchase, they were soon heading home with a new project car.
Leonard and his dad, Ed, wasted no time and got cracking on it. They decided on a Dart SHP small-block as the F-body’s motivator. The duo left assembly up to the Dart crew, and they delivered a bored (4.00) and stroked (3.75) mill with Dart’s “off the shelf” Pro 1 215cc aluminum heads. Mahle 10:1-compression pistons suffice for this street-friendly application. A Howard’s Cam crank works in concert with a Howard’s hydraulic roller cam and produces 0.550/0.580 lift and a duration of 248/ 254 at 0.050 inch. A Holley double pumper exudes fuel into the Dart single-plane intake manifold supplied by a Holley Billet HP mechanical pump.
Leonard passed on the supercharger and turbo power-adders but did incorporate a Zex 250 shot Nitrous System for some extra punch. An MSD programmable 6AL-2 ignition system lights the fire, while a B&M oil cooler keeps the fluid temps in check. A Tuff Stuff alternator keep the spark alive.
Aesthetics are high priority when it comes to the Pro Touring movement, so Leonard bolted up a March Ultra drive kit—not only functional, but a visual complement to the ProForm aluminum valve covers and ceramic-coated 1¾-inch Hedman headers.
Sans juice, Leonard claims the ensemble is worth 625 hp at 7,200 rpm and 555 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. Pulling stout horsepower numbers like those requires the proper drivetrain to back it up, so a TKO 600 transmission managed by a McLeod Street twin-disc clutch were called for duty. Connected by an aluminum PST driveshaft, a Moser rearend stuffed with a Detroit Trutrac and 31-spline axles evenly distribute power to the pavement.
Handling is a major part of this game too, so Leonard worked in CPP’s (Classic Performance Products) 2-inch drop spindles bolted up to a set of Ridetech tubular A-arms up front. Out back, Ridetech’s coilover system takes charge. All four corners employ Ridetech double adjustable dampers.
With business handled on the suspension end, Leonard knew the brake system would have to be nothing less than stellar. A little research led him to Wilwood Disc Brakes for a set of their six-piston brake calipers and 14-inch rotors up front, with a four-piston, 13-inch system out back.
Staggered in size, a set of Genuine Boyd Junk Yard Dog wheels with gray painted spokes reside on the corners–18x8’s do diligence up front while 20x10’s tally up the rear. Stem to stern, Nitto NT05 rubber grip the ground–245/40-18 up front and 275/35-20 out back.
Like so many of his Pro Touring counterparts, Leonard set his sights on building a car that would impress on the track yet offer a comfortable ride during extended driving excursions. A pair of black Sparco Chrono seats provide the pilot and passenger a solid, yet cushy scene and a Sparco Lap 5 steering wheel is a perfect blend to the race-inspired captain’s quarters.
A Dakota Digital III second-gen instrument cluster keeps Leonard in the know and a Ridetech Tiger Cage provides extra safety and a handy means to hang the Crow four-point safety harness.
Leonard subscribes to the fact that the exterior is a major focal point when building an attractive muscle car so he called upon the talents of Tom Argue at Tom Argue Design in St. Petersburg, Florida, to lay down a custom concoction PPG gray pigment and charcoal stripe graphics. “Tom Argue is just about the best there is on this side of the country,” remarked Leonard. “His work speaks for itself and he did a great job on my second-gen.”
The Custom Works carbon-fiber RS bumpers add a nice touch to the Camaro Central billet grille.
With the ill-fated fire responsible for putting his Mustang out to pasture, Leonard’s Camaro has been basically trouble-free. Well, there was that one time on the 2008 Hot Rod Power Tour in which Leonard got into just a little trouble when he decided it was his turn to lead the pack through the mountain roads. While making his move to the front, an officer in an unmarked police vehicle clocked him at 96 mph. That wouldn’t have been so bad on a highway, but the road on which they were traveling had a posted speed limit of 45 mph. That maneuver almost landed Leonard in jail right on the spot but instead bought him a return trip back to “nowhere, Virginia,” where the judge ended up slapping Leonard with a $1,200 fine.
He may have gotten slightly burned on the speeding deal, but thankfully the Camaro is still on the road doing what Leonard and his dad built it to do: road race, autocross, and provide a stellar means of transportation.