Dana. Nickey. Yenko. Baldwin-Motion.These are some of the names that helped make the '60s and early '70s a legendary time for musclecars. They belonged to a select group of companies operating on the premise that factory musclecars failed to push the performance envelope far enough. These dealerships and shops decided to remedy the situation by offering specially tuned and optioned muscle machines specifically tailored for street heroes, drag racers, and performance-addicted gearheads.
As performance cars continue to make a comeback today, a new crop of names is emerging to create the next generation of tuner supercars. Once again there are a few "big names" (SLP Engineering, Lingenfelter Performance, etc.), but there are also plenty of smaller outfits churning out high-quality, custom-tailored performance cars. One such company, Alberts Automotive (Ft. Worth, Texas), is responsible for Jason Robinson's cool '99 Camaro two-seater. Truth be told, the Camaro is really a calling card for Jason, who is part owner of Alberts Automotive. The business grew out of his previous project, a '95 Z28 convertible. Jason approached Jerry Bowman to build a 396-inch LT1 for that car, and Jerry agreed with the stipulation that Jason would handle modifying the car's computer programming and electronics. Their teamwork resulted in a successful project, one that led to the creation of two companies (Alberts Automotive and Performance Automotive Chips) that now work together to offer a variety of Camaro upgrade packages.
Just like the supercars of yore, Jason's Camaro features both appearance and performance options. For starters, there's a DG Motorsports hood funneling cool, fresh air into the LS1. Working its way through an essentially stock engine, the air is expelled through Hooker headers, an SLP Y-pipe, and a B&B Tri-Flo exhaust. The exhaust modifications and custom computer programming help the LS1 make plenty of power, but there's also a 150-horse shot of Nitrous Express laughing gas on board just in case Jason's passenger needs a little extra wind in her hair.
Speaking of passengers, they sit in a two-seat cockpit created by the DG Motorsports Speedster tonneau cover. It caps off DG's complete styling package (rear spoiler, ground effects, headlight covers), which Showtime Customs painted to match the rest of the car. Other visual details are found inside, where white-face gauges and carbon-fiber accents distinguish the dash. Pioneer and Audiobahn stereo components keep the tunes pumping. One advantage this Camaro has over its vintage supercar counterparts is the ability to negotiate turns and curves with ease. That's because the F-body's already-stout suspension has been improved with Eibach springs, a Hotchkis strut tower brace, RKSport subframe connectors, and MAC control arms. It also wears a sticky set of BFGoodrich g-Force radials (255/40R17 front, 315/35R17 rear) wrapped around American Racing Torq-Thrust II wheels (17x9 front, 17x11 rear). Other underbody upgrades include 3.73:1 gearing and a 2,300-rpm-stall converter in the 4L60E automatic transmission.
While Jason's Z28 drop-top certainly looks the part of a supercar, you're probably wondering if it performs as well as its older brethren. We'd say yes, because in its as-pictured state it has run in the 11.90s without the benefit of slicks. If that still fails to impress you, Jason hopes to drop into the 10s this summer after beefing up the LS1 with a Lunati stroker package and Powerdyne supercharger. That kind of performance will put it on par with muscle machines and sports cars from any era. So who knows, maybe gearheads in the year 2030 will be collecting and restoring Alberts Automotive Camaros with the same enthusiasm that Yenko machines and the like are desired today.