Top Camaros of 2012 - Best Of The Best

The Editors and Readers Choose the Top Camaros of 2012

Every year, we here at Camaro Performers magazine look forward to putting together the February issue. It's the one time we get to revisit each and every Camaro featured in these pages from the previous year. We then compile a list of the top 20 Camaros based not only on the editorial staff's choices, but this year, for the first time, we are using input from our readers and Facebook followers. We then painstakingly whittled it down to the best 11 and called it good. Now we didn't blatantly ask which Camaros you felt should make our list, but we took into account the feedback we received from your emails and Facebook likes and comments.

One thing to keep in mind is that the top Camaros were not chosen based on how much money was spent on building the car, but a number of other factors came into consideration - craftsmanship and build quality, horsepower rating, and how much the owner drives the car are all taken into account. But the major decision-making factor boils down to how cool the car looks. Of course, compiling a "Best of" list is subjective, so your ideas of what makes a Camaro cool may differ from ours. And we want to hear about it, so email us at camaroperformers@sorc.com or head on over to either facebook.com/camaroperformers or twitter.com/camaroperform to post your comments.

So with the ground rules somewhat laid out, here are the best Camaros from 2012.

Camp 1302 02 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1969 Z28 1/23

Issue: February 2012
Car: 1969 Z/28 Camaro
Owner: Derek Trulson
Photos: Henry Z. DeKuyper

Camp 1302 01 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1969 Z28 Camaro 2/23

Oftentimes, Camaro owners go well beyond the call of duty when performing a period-correct restoration, and they’ll do so at any cost. Such was the case when Derek Trulson found this ’69 Z/28. It started out as a somewhat plain Jane example, but Derek wanted to construct a Camaro that could have been built as an extreme Trans-Am track fiend from back in the day. A car that some of those passionate gearheads from GM would have built and sold as a super-hopped-up, out-the-back-door hot rod. Derek took extreme measures to acquire the heavy-duty suspension components and sway bars, and other extra beefy components not everyone knows exist. Although fairly expensive, the cross-ram manifold and correct carbs are still attainable, but Derek’s obsession for building an awesome ’60s skunkworks-style muscle car was carried out to the extent to what you see here.

Between your emails and social media feedback, this car was an easy pick for our Best of list.

Camp 1302 04 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2000 Z28 3/23

Issue: April 2012
Car: 2000 Z28 Camaro
Owner: Scott Massey
Photos: Nick Licata

Camp 1302 03 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2000 Z28 Camaro 4/23

Hit any dragstrip these days and there’s a good chance you’ll run into quite a few fourth-gens. Some fast, some clean, but the odds somewhat diminish when it comes to finding one that’s just as fast as it is clean. Scott Massey likes his stuff looking good and he prefers to go down the strip quickly. The car is armed with a Nasty Nate’s Performance-built iron-block LS stroked to 4.00 inches and bored 4.005 over for a total of 403 cubic inches. Scott is continually tinkering with his stellar Monterey Maroon F-body, and last we heard the car is running low 9’s in the quarter.

This is one fourth-gen that is well deserving of our Best of issue.

Camp 1302 06 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2010 Ss 5/23

Issue: May 2012
Car: 2010 SS Camaro
Owner: Yancy Johns
Photos: Robert McGaffin/Steven Rupp

Camp 1302 05 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2010 Ss Camaro 6/23

Many of you readers might recognize CP/28 as the long-term Camaro Performers magazine fifth-gen project car. We started out with the intention of only doing a few engine and suspension bolt-on upgrades, but we just couldn’t control ourselves and ended up building a blown 416 beast that belts out 651 hp and 660 lb-ft to the tires. We treated the ’10 RS/SS to a Magnuson TVS supercharger, JBA headers and exhaust system, then overhauled the suspension with DSE components, armed it with a Centerforce twin-disc clutch, and bolted up a set of rollers from Boze. We then had Mike Norris of Norris Motorsports tune the thing up and finally let the owner of the car, Yancy Johns, get behind the wheel. Upon releasing the clutch, his initial comments were a bit too coarse to print, but let’s just say he is now having quite a bit of fun with it. You can see the car in action on various episodes of SPEED Channel’s new automotive reality show Are you Faster Than a Redneck? in 2013.

You could say this was our “in-house” pick, but with all the positive email we received on this car, there’s no doubt it’s well deserving of making our Best of issue.

Camp 1302 08 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2002 Ss 7/23

Issue: May 2012
Car: 2002 SS Camaro
Owner: Greg Edwards
Photos: Henry Z. DeKuyper

Camp 1302 07 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2002 Ss Camaro 8/23

Greg Edwards first spotted this ’02 Camaro making some stout runs at Byron Dragway, in Byron, Illinois, and was instantly smitten. And once he found out it was totally streetable with low miles and for sale, he was hell-bent on being the next owner. Once in his hands, he had JAMR Racing Engines bore and stroke it up to 396 ci then put some extra life into it with a T76 Turbonetics twin-turbo system set at 27 psi of boost. Now bursting at the seams, the fourth-gen is hammering out about 1,240 hp and 1,000 lb-ft of torque, good enough for 8.60 e.t.’s at over 165 mph in the quarter. Believe it or not, Greg feels the car has a somewhat “sleeper” look to it. We suppose that’s true until you have a gander under the hood. What lies between the framerails is a dead giveaway that this car means serious business.

Fast cars may be considered “dime a dozen,” but the fact that Greg’s SS is in such immaculate condition, this Sunset Orange Metallic Camaro is absolutely Best of material.

Camp 1302 09 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1970 9/23

Issue: June 2012
Car: 1970 Camaro
Owner: Dave Leisinger
Photos: Josh Mishler

Camp 1302 10 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1970 Camaro 10/23

When talking about purpose-built Camaros for our Best of issue, we’d have to go with this ’70 constructed by the guys at Lakeside Rods and Rides for Dave Leisinger. Dave and his wife, Karen, had this car built with one thing in mind: to kick-ass on the autocross. “The Professor” Warren Johnson had a hand in the engine build, which the Leisinger’s had set back 12 inches for better weight distribution. Belting out a blistering 760 hp should be plenty, if not overkill, for any autocross, but that’s just how the Leisinger’s roll. The car features DSE suspension front and rear and Baer 6S calipers grip 14-inch rotors. Boze Mesh wheels wrapped in Falken Azenis rubber reside on all four corners. Anything but contemporary, the interior features an aluminum scene reminiscent of a 1947 P-47 Thunderbolt fighter. Although the car is built solely for track duty, The Crusher as it’s aptly named, is totally at home in a car show atmosphere.

Yes, it’s that nice, and it’s just the kind of ride that belongs in our Best of issue.

Camp 1302 11 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1980 Z28 11/23

Issue: June 2012
Car: 1980 Z28 Camaro
Owner: Bill Hronis
Photos: Robert McGaffin

Camp 1302 12 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1980 Z28 Camaro 12/23

We’re always on the prowl for later-model second-gens to feature in the mag, so when we heard about Bill Hronis’ ’80 Z28 street machine from the gang over at G-Force Design Concepts in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, we knew it was Camaro Performers magazine material. It’s the sort of Camaro that just about any muscle car enthusiast can relate to. Its big-block (572ci) reeks of kick-ass “blue collar” horsepower that belts out 850 hp and 700 lb-ft. With its killer stance, 15-year-old paintjob that’s stood the test of time, and aggressive demeanor, this is one Camaro that just can’t be ignored.

So we didn’t. Congratulations to Bill Hronis for making our Best of issue.

Camp 1302 13 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1969 Camaro RS 13/23

Issue: July 2012
Car: 1969 Camaro RS Convertible
Owner: Mark Lengal
Photos: Josh Mishler

Camp 1302 14 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1969 Camaro RS Convertible 14/23

Car builds can get pushed back for many reasons, and the time devoted can go well over even the most conservative time estimates. But what may not be accounted for is a major change in direction. Initially, Mark Lengal had his mind made up to take his swap meet classic down the road to building a big-block clone. Well, that all changed while he was scouring the Internet for parts and stumbled onto lateral-g.net. He was amazed at what he saw within the Pro Touring scene and couldn’t believe the number of suppliers already dedicated to the movement. Instantly, the big-block stuff went up for sale and he repositioned the build in favor of a super clean Pro Touring ride. The car features a slightly juiced up LS1, with the majority of the build focused around the cushy interior and a flawless exterior that looks slightly less familiar than what he’d become accustomed to, already. Not only did Mark succeed in building an insanely nice ’69 Pro Touring convertible, but it’s also like none we’ve seen.

Your feedback and the fact that this is one gorgeous Camaro makes us proud to include it in our Best of issue.

Camp 1302 15 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1970 15/23

Issue: October 2012
Car: 1970 Camaro
Owner: Bob Venne
Photos: Robert McGaffin

Camp 1302 16 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1970 Camaro 16/23

The Ringbrothers are notorious for building some of the most creative and functional muscle cars anyone has ever seen. There’s usually a buzz about what’s happening inside the confines of their Spring Green, Wisconsin, hot rod shop. And that was certainly the case when word got out as Bob Venne’s Pro Touring ’70 Camaro, dubbed Diverson, was going through its transformation from an everyday second-gen to what you see here. Every Ringbrothers build reflects their distinct style, and this sleek 650hp brawler is no exception. The Camaro’s obvious custom refinements speak out loud, while the subtle nuances remain unspoken until you make visual comparisons to a stock example. Even then, it’ll take a few walk-arounds to soak it all in. The car is engaging on the interior and just as stellar on the exterior.

Our Facebook followers gave it major props, and so do we. It more than deserves to be in our Best of issue.

Camp 1302 18 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1969 SS 396 17/23

Issue: October 2012
Car: 1969 SS 396 Camaro
Owner: Mac and Shelly Bernd
Photos: Stephen Kim

Camp 1302 17 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1969 SS 396 Camaro 18/23

Mac Bernd has been building hot rods for more years than he may care to admit, but this Camaro is a first for him on two accounts. One is that it’s a super rare matching-numbers SS396 ’69 Camaro with some highly unusual options; the second is that it’s an absolute concourse-quality restoration built for the national show car circuit. Mac’s known for and takes pride in building cars that he and his wife, Shelly, drive, so the fact that this immaculate ’69 has been judged as “Legend Status” by some of the top Camaro authorities in the country has taken Mac into unfamiliar territory: preserving a little muscle car history.

Many have enjoyed seeing this car in person at one of the many shows Mac has attended in 2012, and because we are on board with preserving a little history ourselves, we had to throw out the “welcome mat” and include this immaculate restoration in our Best of issue.

Camp 1302 19 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1987 19/23

Issue: December 2012
Car: 1987 IROC-Z Camaro
Owner: Laura Wilson
Photos: Matthew Jones

Camp 1302 20 O Top Camaros Of 2012 1987 Camaro 20/23

It’s not often we come across third-gens in the condition of Laura Wilson’s, so when she emailed us a couple photos and asked if we would be interested in doing a feature article on her ’87, we jumped at the chance. One cool thing is that the car has a split personality. For example, the car rolls on 18-inch wheels and low-profile rubber for street driving, but for dragstrip action Laura bolts on the 15-inch Race Star rollers wrapped in Mickey Thompson Sportsman rubber on all four corners. As you can see here, our preference was to shoot the car in drag trim. Under the hood, her hubby, Todd, made sure the car had plenty of beans, so the beefed-up 350 is accompanied by a NOS 150 shot. Laura is plenty happy with the power the car makes, but she’s a stickler on keeping this ride looking good. Todd painted the car himself, and his attention to detail shows throughout the build. It’s this kind of effort that not only gets Laura plenty of looks going down the road, but it has also gotten her a trunk load of car show awards.

We’re excited to award her a spot in our Best of list.

Camp 1302 21 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2010 SS 21/23

Issue: December 2012
Car: 2010 SS Camaro
Owner: Clay Lawson
Photos: Robert McGaffin

Camp 1302 22 O Top Camaros Of 2012 2010 SS Camaro 22/23

Clay Lawson had originally ordered a fully loaded ’11 Camaro SS convertible that he was planning to upgrade with enough grunt to get into the low 10s. Unfortunately, a few mishaps at the factory postponed delivery and after a few weeks of getting the runaround about where the car actually was, Clay decided to cancel the order and go with a slightly damaged ’10 coupe and pour all the go-fast goodies into this car. He had the crew at LME in Houston, Texas, bump the LSX up to 7.4 L and bolt on a Kenne Bell supercharger. With the boost cranked up to 12 psi, he was on his way – quickly. The resulting effort offered Clay 800-plus hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. Baer 6S calipers and 15-inch rotors hide behind a set of polished CCW SP16A wheels wrapped in Nitto NTO5 rubber, while Pedders adjustable shocks and 1-inch drop springs improve handling.

Horsepower alone didn’t get Clay’s fifth-gen on our Best of list, but the attractive custom exterior along with the sanitary engine bay and interior helped it right along.

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