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Heidts Second Gen Camaro - Mule Of A Different Stripe

Heidts Second-Gen Company Car.

Apr 21, 2009

They searched eBay Motors for a hump car. They found an unlikely candidate that had done hard time when it was in use and an even harder stretch rocker-deep in a Nebraska rutabaga field. What was left of its paint was straight out of the `80s, there were several inches of mud hugging the floorboards, and evidence that the car had seen some Dukes of Hazard frolic. So let's just say that these guys like to rip it up. They thought how much better the turd bucket would feel with some powerful parts charting its destiny.

Though the second-gen Camaros handled better than their forebears ever hoped to, they still aren't anywhere near the pinnacle fourth-gen. Frank and Marc wanted to illustrate how their recently released second-gen bars and levers worked by showcasing them in a complete target-audience vehicle touted as a C5 destroyer. Nothing unusual here. Savvy aftermarket companies maintain at least one "project" car as a daily driver and ultimately as a legal tax dodge.

We'll refrain from attempting to classify the Heidts car other than call it Pro Touring. Frankly, all the original versus clone spew we've had covering our flip-flops for so many years has worn very thin now. Underneath its faade, this Camaro is really just a test mule. But before Heidts could put their new stuff to work, they needed bedrock to bolt it to. They looked at the naked carcass and shivered as good thoughts passed to bad. It needed mending in a large way but that was completely out of their realm.

They looked down the streets of hometown Wauconda, Illinois, and Phil and Eric at Casten Auto Body jumped right up. No specifics about exactly what they did, but you know the routine required to bring a corpse back life. The slick ol' body speaks for itself. What kind of paint did Casten use? White, red, and blue, of course. Those coveted (Z22 code) RS bumperettes protect the Endura nose (sort of) and the hood is a Goodmark steel unit with a two-inch cowl. Then they hung out with the Sticker Dude Designs dudes a few miles down the road in Lake Zurich and watched `em do the body graphics. From then on, Vaughn West (with assistance from Tom Brown and Marc Prince) took over the reconstruction chores.

When your expertise centers on performance suspension systems, the motor needn't be a killer on steroids. For a 3,600-pounder like this one, torque is more germane to the handling expo than horsepower, something on the order of 450--lb-ft is plenty and quite easy to balance given a beneficial chassis, tires, and wheels.

Heidts bedrock comes in the form of their Pro-G subframe hung with tubular control arms and a 1-inch diameter antisway bar. Heidts steel spindles dropped the front of the car 2 inches closer to the ground and are made to accept big brakes, in this case Wilwood 13-inch discs.

Wheel damping is controlled by AFCO coilover adjustable shock absorbers. Sticky 245/40ZR Nitto NT-01 tires cozy up to 18x9 Foose Nitrous-series rims (5-inch backspace). These Nittos are designed for maximum dry pavement handling, as in racetrack, but are condoned for street use by the DOT. West added a bit more torsional strength with a Competition Engineering rollbar as well as an anchor for the Simpson five-point harness.

On the driven end, West installed the Heidts subframe connectors linking the front of the car to the bolt-on four-link suspension setup. Adjustable AFCO coilovers dropped the rear 1 inches and a Panhard rod (which must be parallel with the ground at ride height) centers the John's Industries 9-inch axle ( The housing is fabricated and was fitted with 3.70:1 gears riding on a limited-slip. Marc burns off energy with Wilwood companion 13s. Shiny side up, those Nitrous hoops are 9-wides, but this time with a 5-inch backspace and Nitto 275/35 quasi-slicks.

Vaughn West dropped in a steel-crank ZZ383 crate engine (comes without carburetor, ignition, alternator, intake manifold, fuel and water pumps, and starter) that he completed with the following items: Edelbrock Victor Jr. manifold, Holley 770cfm Street Avenger carb, Carter mechanical fuel pump, GM water pump, and MSD Pro Billet ignition system. Requisite tube headers dump into a 2-inch exhaust system. Output is about 425 hp at 5,500 rpm and 450 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. The engine-driven fan blows through a Griffin aluminum four-row core.

An overdriven top gear was mandatory for the Pro Touring gig. West ordered up a TCI 700R4, equipping it with a 2,200rpm stall speed converter and a manual-shift valve body. Quarter Master Industries shortened the stock driveshaft 2 inches and suddenly the boys were in business.

As partners, Marc and Frank represent yin and yang, Marc being the in-the-blood car guy, Frank the business and manufacturing acumen. So let's put Marc behind the wheel. After our own heart, the Camaro is a radio delete car so all visceral input seethes strictly from the tires and the 383 stroker. See him strapped in the Scat Procar seat, one hand lightly grasping the Grant GT Rally steering wheel, the other on the stock horseshoe shifter handle. In front of him a phalanx of Auto Meter Sport Comp gauges. For mule duty, air conditioning and most other creature comforts became a fond memory.

P.S. Frank and Marc extend their thanks and gratitude to the Wauconda PD for their liberal attitude and understanding during early "testdrives" (no further details available).



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