1995 Chevrolet Camaro, The Purp - Home Stretch

The Purp gets one step closer to completion as we plumb the brakes, install the seats, and bolt down the trans hardware

Stephen Kim Jan 15, 2014 0 Comment(s)
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During the long and tedious process of building a race car from scratch, everyone inevitably reaches the same painful conclusion: When your car finally starts looking like a car again, the fun is just getting started. In other words, a project that looks like its nearing completion, from the outside looking in, is actually nowhere close to ripping off WOT passes at the track. That’s precisely where we’re at with The Purp, GMHTP’s in-house ’95 Camaro drag car. The interior is gutted, the rollcage is in, the chassis is buttoned up, and the motor and trans are itching to go play, but much of the grunt work has yet to be completed. Nothing’s been plumbed, there’s nowhere to sit, all the wiring is still in boxes, and the bulk of the safety equipment is MIA. We need to pop the big red transbrake button like a greasy teenager needs to pop a big red pimple, and fortunately, we have friends in high places that feel our pain. We’re talking about Judson and Linda Massingill of the School of Automotive Machinists. After hearing our sob story, they offered to lend a hand in putting the finishing touches on The Purp. Shortly thereafter, being the deadbeats that we are, our Camaro was on a truck heading for Houston (big thanks to Intercity Lines, Inc!).

Anyone who’s been following the late-model GM scene for more than a week has probably heard of SAM. The school’s cutting-edge vocational program churns out the top race engine builders in the country, many of whom go on to work for elite shops like Hendrick Motorsports, John Force Racing, and Warren Johnson Enterprises. In fact, The Purp’s 720hp LSX small-block was built by Bryan Neelen and Pecos Loughlin of Late Model Engines, both SAM graduates. In addition to conceiving incredibly powerful engine combos, the SAM crew has earned a reputation for building some of the fastest late-model Camaros in the country. The school’s iconic orange ’99 Camaro SS runs 8-flat at 170 mph—thanks to a 435ci LS motor that makes 1,058 hp—and has four LSX Shootout Series All Motor championships to its credit. The shop’s ’98 Camaro street car used to run high-9s on pump gas, but SAM swapped out its 500ci LS2 for a 427ci combo last fall and proceeded to run 200-plus mph at the Texas Mile. Oh yeah, SAM also has a 2012 COPO Camaro that’s already run deep 9-second passes. Needless to say, The Purp is in very good hands.

Considering that it’s been nearly a year since our last story on The Purp, here’s a quick recap of what the project is all about. Several years back, Editor Scott Parker bought a battered and worn-down ’95 Camaro V-6 for $500, and decided to go racing in NMCA’s LSX Real Street class. Despite rules that mandate a stock-style suspension, race weights of 3,150 pounds and higher, and either 10.5-inch slicks or 275mm drag radials, the heavy hitters in this competitive class run mid-8-second passes. To keep pace with the forced induction boys, we had Late Model Engines in Houston build us a 451ci LSX motor stout enough for a boatload of nitrous, but still good for 720 hp in naturally aspirated trim. After gutting the car of all non-essential creature comforts, we installed a Chassisworks rollcage, BMR Level 2 front and rear drag suspension, Strange S60 rear end, Aeromotive fuel cell, and Strange brakes. After bolting a killer Century Transmission Powerglide to the 451 and dropping it in, The Purp sat dormant for several months until SAM came to the rescue.

To get the project one big step closer to completion, this month we’re putting the finishing touches on the chassis by installing the brake lines, line lock, transmission cooler, shifter, Lexan, and seats. The SAM crew has really turned up the wick on this project, so stay tuned for stories on the nitrous, safety equipment, electronics, wiring, and track testing in the near future. Last but not least we have to give a huge shout out to SAM technician Dustin Rush, and Judson and Linda Massingill for stepping up to help with this project.

1995 Camaro Purp Dustin Replaces Brake 11/26

10 Instead of taking our chances with the 20-year-old stock brake lines, we opted to replace them entirely. At the back end, SAM technician Dustin Rush bent the hard line to run from the passenger-side framerail to the driver-side framerail along the floorboard, directly in front of where the factory gas tank would normally sit. Next, a 1-inch section of the line was removed—and both ends were then flared and screwed into a brass T-block—on a section of the framerail adjacent to the driver-side shock. From there, the hard line was routed on the framerail to the front of the car. Tabs and cushion clamps supplied with the SSBC kit were used to mount the hard line to the body.

1995 Camaro Purp Bending Brake 12/26

11 Bending tubing is hardly rocket science, but using the right tools and exercising patience are paramount to good results. A simple cast steel bender (PN 900675) like this one from Summit can be had for $10. Since uneven cuts can lead to leaks, a quality tubing cutter is also a must. Likewise, single flares are hit-and-miss, so creating double 45-degree flares with a double flaring tool (PN SUM-900310) is highly recommended.

1995 Camaro Purp Mounting Roll 13/26

12 To minimize plumbing, the Roll Control should be mounted as close to the master cylinder as possible. We found a nice spot on the firewall, right next to the steering shaft, to bolt it down. The top inlet port connects to a hard line routed to the front brake port on the master cylinder, and the bottom outlet port connects to the front brake hard lines. Wiring it up is very easy as well. One wire hooks up to the activation switch, and the other connects to a switched 12-volt ignition source.

1995 Camaro Purp Roll Control 14/26

13 The hard line exiting the Roll Control outlet was routed to a brass distribution T-block mounted on the driver side framerail. From there, the driver side hard line was routed along the framerail, while Dustin ran the passenger side hard line along the K-member.

1995 Camaro Purp BMR Manual Brakes 15/26

14 The slick BMR Fabrication manual brake adapter plate bolts in place of the factory power booster. For low mass and good looks, it boasts aluminum construction and counter-sunk Allen head bolts. With the plate in position, Dustin bolted up the master cylinder before hooking up the hard line to the Roll Control.

1995 Camaro Purp Install Proportioning 16/26

15 To ensure easy access for brake bias changes, Dustin mounted the adjustable proportioning valve to a horizontal section of the cowl right behind the hood prop. In this location, the only part that’s visible at eye level is the adjustment knob. A hard line was then bent up to connect one end of the valve to the master cylinder. The other port connects to the rear brake hard lines, which were routed along the framerails, through the driver side wheelwell, then into the engine compartment.

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