1970 Chevy Camaro - The Crusher

This Lightweight Second-gen Will Turn Some Heads on the Street and Some Quick Times at the Track

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Dave and Karen Leisinger are no strangers to having some of the most creatively insane Camaros included in their automotive arsenal. Case in point would be the ’67 “Grumpy’s Toy” tribute Camaro (“Jiggs’ Rat,” Apr. ’10) they commissioned Roger Burman and his fearless crew at Lakeside Rods and Rides to whittle together as something Dave could play with when he felt the urge to burn off a little steam. That car featured a Jenkins’ Competition 572ci mill and was built to battle the asphalt benders with a full DSE suspension system; it was a nasty hybrid of Pro Stock meets Pro Touring.

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Their next concoction was spawned from a ’67 Camaro as well—although this first-gen sent the purists into a frenzy, the Camaro Karen aptly named Scar (“Scarred for Life,” Dec. ’10), shamelessly borrowed taillights, headlights, and a plethora of sheetmetal bits from a ’10 Camaro. It was a “love-it-or-hate-it” custom ride worthy of winning the 2010 Street Machine of the Year. It too was built by the Burman crew and featured a mighty 600hp powerplant. With handling on the forefront, this car too featured a full DSE suspension beneath the aggressively massaged sheetmetal.

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With two high-profile ’67s in the shed, Dave and Karen figured it was time to delve into the second-gen world for their next project: a ’70, to be exact. “The name Crusher is fitting for this car because of the shape it was in when we found it,” explained Dave. “When we saw the car for the first time, our initial thoughts were that it should have been crushed instead of resurrected, but we went ahead with it anyway.”

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With Crusher saved from the scrap pile, Dave and Karen decided to build this second-gen as the ultimate autocross car. The idea was to set the motor back 6-plus inches and lighten the car by using fiberglass and aluminum panels where they could. So, with an Eric Brockmeyer rendering in hand, the stage was set.

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Sticking with Pro Stock legends for power, this time Dave called up “The Professor,” Warren Johnson to supply the underhood grunt. Pro Stock gurus are less than forthcoming with engine specs, but we do know the RHS/LSR block was machined by Warren himself and features Mast aluminum heads. Lunati crank and rods host Wiseco pistons, and a COMP Cams custom grind provides precise lift and duration per the professor's specifications. Of course, those numbers were left under wraps. Now, that’s all good for WJ and the Leisinger’s, but not so much for our readers.

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An Edelbrock fuel pump keeps the Quickfuel 850-cfm carb quenched with 110 octane housed in a Flo-Fast 5-gallon fuel cell, while an MSD 6011 keeps the spark alive. DSE stainless 2-inch headers provide the exit strategy into a custom-built Lakeside 3-inch exhaust, and a pair of Flowmaster 44s produce a more decibel-friendly tone.

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A PRC aluminum radiator accommodates the Spal dual electric fans and a Meziere LS1 water pump ensures the juices flow. A Melling oil pump keeps lubrication moving and a CV Racing Products pulley system ties it all together.

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So what sort of power does a one-off Warren Johnson engine get you these days? How about a tick over 760 hp at 5,800 rpm and over 660 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm—certainly enough to annihilate any autocross course in America. With that said, we can’t verify 100,000-mile/10-year warranty (or whichever comes first) is included.

Regardless of the warranty, a stout drivetrain was necessary to manage all that Warren Johnson Racing potency, so Dave called up Gearstar for one of their Turbo 400 Level 5 transmissions. A Gearstar full-race valvebody and 3,500-stall converter send the monumental torque to a Driveline Services driveshaft. A Moser 9-inch stuffed with a Wavetrack and 3.90 cogs spin the Strange axles. A TransGo shift kit and Hurst shifter manage gear changes, and for robust launches Dave incorporated a trans brake into the equation.

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The drag race inspiration exists via WJ’s handiwork, but handling was the main focus on the build, so the Lakeside crew welded together their own custom frame and mated it up a DSE hydroformed subframe at the front. The standard goodies include DSE 2-inch lowering springs, double-adjustable DSE shocks, splined sway bar, and C6 spindles. Sticking with the DSE catalog, a QUADRALink rear system resides out back and includes the DSE spring and shock combo. Down the road, should Dave seek out a larger rear wheel and tire combo, DSE Deep Tubs were stitched in to provide roomy accommodations.

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A Wilwood master cylinder conducts the Baer 6S six-piston binders perched atop 14-inch rotors front and rear, which handle stopping duties behind a quad bank of Boze Mesh wheels (18x10 front, 18x12 rear) wrapped in Falken Azenis rubber (275/35R18 front, 315/30R18 rear).

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The custom-built Lakeside interior features an aluminum scene borrowed from a 1947 P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. The multitude of pushbuttons featured on the dash insinuates the Stack instrumentation is the only contemporary piece in the mix. Contemporary? Not for the average Joe, but in this instance, you get the idea. Weber Custom Interiors did their diligence on the upholstery, carpet, and cloth headliner. Jegs race seats and G-Force restraint systems offer a secure venue while Dave white knuckles the MOMO steering wheel. The car’s initial appearance offers a Pro Touring vibe, but luxury took a back seat on this ride; not one of the dash buttons assume control of the non-existent A/C or sound system. The only tune echoing through this second-gen is the sound of eight angry pistons pushing the limits of their own existence.

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Having a number of custom cars built in recent years, the Leisinger’s continue in keeping Roger Burman and his team at Lakeside Rods on call. Only sucking up seven month’s time, this build could be considered somewhat tame relative to their previous Camaro creations where extensive sheetmetal alteration was the norm.

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This time around, Burman took the lightweight route by mixing in more fiberglass than a Southern California surfboard shop. The front end, doors, trunk lid, and hood all lack the common sheetmetal composition. Even the windows were replaced with Lexan. Up front, the grille was designed for increased airflow, and the factory turn indicator locations have been converted to air vents for even further induction into the brake rotor area.

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Lakeside did their usual assiduous work smoothing the body and spraying the paint. Dave passed on the retina-burning exterior pigment and instead settled on a slightly subdued Porsche Silver with flat PPG clearcoat. The Charcoal Gray “Crusher” graphic and subtle gold stripe induces a race-inspired theme careful not to overpower the body's natural attraction.

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When a successful effort comes together, it’s important to credit the supporting cast. “I have thank Kyle Tucker from DSE for helping with the suspension, Eric Brockmeyer for his eye for design, and Zak at Boze Alloys for putting together just the right wheel combination,” relays Dave. “So far, we’ve had so much fun with this car that having our kids work as the pit crew and driving in the autocross has been a great experience. And working with Warren Johnson on the engine has also been amazing.”

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Weighing in at just 2,900 pounds with driver and the near perfect weight distribution, this is one Camaro that is sure to be top dog at most any autocross. It’s a car that is more than able to crush the competition.

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The only tune echoing through this second-gen is the sound of eight angry pistons pushing the limits of their own existence.

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