We're a little worried about running the story and photos of Audrey and John Glister's '99 Camaro "GTZ." Why? Because we're not sure the words and images on these pages will do the car justice.
Take a long look at the pumpkin-colored body. Did you notice the smoothed grille area, which eliminates the black plastic factory insert? Look, too, at the front fascia. The car wears the RS-style ground effects kit, but rather than a break in the middle, the front piece wraps all around the nose. Subtle, no? And we'll bet you've never seen a hood like this Camaro's. It's a one-off design patterned after that of a Ferrari 456 Maranello.
All these subtle and not-so-subtle body tricks, along with the re-application of Hugger Orange paint and the striking white stripe, are the handiwork of Specter Werkes/Sports in Troy, Michigan. Truth be told, Specter built the whole car, including the stroked LS1 motor (more on that in a moment). Ironically, even though Specter's overall accomplishment with the car is outstanding, the company wasn't the Glisters' first choice. They shopped Callaway, Lingenfelter and SLP before settling on the hometown shop.
What the Glisters have right now is the only F-body GTZ Specter has built. Usually, Specter affixes GTR badges to C5 'Vettes built for well-heeled customers who find the Corvette's appearance and performance merely starting points. That's not to say the Glisters didn't drop a couple of dimes on their F-body. This wasn't a budget build by any stretch of the imagination, as the quality of the finished product shows.
But like the limited-edition GTR 'Vettes, what the Glisters got is a car that not only looks and performs better than new, but does so without any of the compromises that can sour a modified car's fun factor.
Well, negotiating the pock-marked streets around the Glisters' suburban Detroit home may be a compromise with the lowering springs, HRE 18-inch wheels, and low-profile Michelin Pilot tires, but such is the price of cruising in the land of frost heaves and pot holes.
To compensate for the jarring rides around Motown, the Camaro's unibody was stiffened with a set of Hotchkiss subframe connectors under the floorboards and a shock tower brace under the hood. Hotchkiss also supplied a new set of sway bars and a torque arm to keep the rear axle a little more in line. Again, all the installs were handled by Specter Werkes/Sports.
Those chassis stiffening mods absorb the car's increased torque, too, which was amplified once the stock LS1 engine was dropped out and stroked to displace 382 cubic inches. Forged steel is the crankshaft material and the same goes for the new rods. The cylinder heads were breathed on, too, and a higher-lift camshaft was inserted. The goal was 475 horses and 485 ft-lbs of torque. We haven't seen a dyno figure, but we drove the Glisters' car briefly and the numbers certainly feel legit.
Apart from the orange-painted intake plenum and GTZ-labeled Corvette coil covers, it's hard to tell with the naked eye that the engine's been touched. You might notice the Mac headers, but not much of them peek out, either. Downstream of the headers, some high-flow cats and an SLP 3-inch exhaust system carry away the 382's unwanted gases.
Since this car is virtually a daily driver for the Glisters, they went with the convenience of an automatic transmission. The stock 4L80-E was fortified with tougher internals and fitted with a 2,400-stall converter. It spins a set of 4.10:1 cogs in the stock rear axle. (We're taking bets around here as to how long that axle is going to last with nearly 500 ft-lbs twisting those 4.10s...)
Let's see...we've covered the engine, suspension and bodywork. Did we forget anything? Oh, yeah. The interior.
Like the exterior, this Camaro's cabin is orange and white, though covered in leather. Everything you can touch in this interior is covered in orange and white leather. The feeling is very luxurious and, we're sure, contributed greatly to the car's final tab.
Perhaps the best example of the Glisters' no-compromises, expenses-be-damned details is the fantastic instrument insert. The entire gauge face panel is orange, with white numbers and the GTZ logo. The Glisters didn't paint it orange. Oh no-they had the car's original supplier (Delphi Automotive) do it in orange and white. It's a small detail and looks great, but it cost as much as a decent pair of cylinder heads.
That's just fine with Audrey and John Glister, who point to a line of first-place trophies that have been awarded at every event the car has entered as proof that their vision for the ultimate Camaro has been duly acknowledged.