There comes a point in the life of every Camaro when its owner must decide exactly how its going to spend the rest of its years. Most spend their time, eyes closed, staring at the backside of a garage door with the occasional romp on a 72-degree day. Some even get the chance to burn a little rubber once in a while at the dragstrip. Duane Durbin's '68 plays neither role.
Purchased some 14 years ago, Duane transformed his "piece of junk" (as his wife used to call it) into one of the best-leaving quarter-mile workhorses-although the real magic trick here may be how Duane was able to skip his wife's birthday party to meet up with the previous owner and change the title over. Somehow, Duane is still alive and married.
We heard about this hot rod from Denny Durbin, the proud owner of our blown, injected, August 2008 cover feature '70 Nova so we knew that another car bred in this family was bound to be bad to the bone. Let's just say we were not disappointed when we first laid eyes on it at the Super Chevy show at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania.
Not only does that car sit well amongst the show cars, but it is also one of the fastest Outlaw Drag Radial cars on the planet, running low 8-second passes at over 3,600 pounds. But bystanders don't seem to care what the scoreboard reads as the real show happens on the starting line. Foot braking the old Powerglide transmission, Duane lifts the front wheels and carries them for a few hundred feet, usually with the back bumper dragging the ground. Looking at nothing but stars from the driver's seat, his only saving grace is knowing that he and HFR Fabrication in Manchester, Maryland, constructed a well-built suspension, capable of going perfectly straight on two wheels.
Roche Racing Engines is responsible for the monster powerplant that supplies the motivation for this F-body in the form of a 621ci, all-aluminum big-block pumping out over 1,100 hp at 7,200 rpm and 875 lb-ft of torque. The rotating assembly starts with a Lunati Pro-Series crankshaft, GRP billet aluminum connecting rods, and JE pistons for a static compression ratio of 14.5:1. The cylinder bores measure 4.560 inches with a heart stopping 4.75 inches of stroke.
Up top sits a set of 18-degree Dart Big Chief cylinder heads and matching intake manifold fed by a Barry Grant King Demon 1295cfm carburetor. The Comp Cams camshaft specs out at 0.867-I/.816-E with a round-the-clock duration of 320-degrees intake and 352-degrees exhaust. More motivation still is provided by a Speed Tech two-stage Pro Fogger nitrous plate system capable of adding 800-1,000 more horsepower of go-go. Backing all that noise is a set of 23/8-inch HFR custom-made headers and Burns stainless collectors.
Power transfer to the real wheels begins with an aluminum Dedenbear Powerglide assembled by Vince Fourcade Racing Transmissions and a Pro-Torque 3200-stall converter. The rear end is all compliments of Moser Engineering and uses 40-spline gun-drilled axles, 3.89 gears (so Duane can take the kids for ice cream), and a spool to assist in those miraculous wheel stands out the gate. HoleShot Wheels are bolted on front and back (15x3.5 front/15x10 back) and are wrapped in Mickey Thompson's ET series of tires (27.5x4.5 front/P315/60R15 back).
Though a complete tube-chassis drag warrior complete with TRZ tubular control arms, AFCO shocks, Cal-Tracs, Landrum mono-leaf springs, and a purpose-built interior, Duane somehow convinced the state of Maryland to issue his license plates to cruise around town. Few automobiles draw a crowd like Duane's Torch Red '68, especially when his three daughters jump out of it. Duane thanks Chris Wald and Meryle Jackson for the beautiful paint job and notes the countless hours spent blocking, sanding, grinding, priming, and doing it all over again.