If you like your hot rods to enjoy life a little on the outrageous side of things, then we have the perfect ride for you. While we were checking out Speedway Motors’ Toolbox blog, we ran across a ’67 Camaro that not only defies traditional design, it slaps it in the face and then takes names.
The folks at Speedway acknowledge that, as the original Toolbox article about the Camaro begins with, You might look at this crazy, flamed cartoon come to life and wonder how in the world it came to be. In what kind of a rational universe does a perfectly good ’67 Camaro get turned into a wild machine like this? If you’re willing to check your sensible side at the door, the evolution and adventurous life of this old Camaro makes for a pretty good story.
Before you draw any conclusions or opinions about this car, you really need to check out the Toolbox article. Apparently, the car came to the Speedway shop in less than great condition. It was powered by a 327 small block backed with a row-your-own-gear four-speed. Definitely a tried-and-true combination. Because of that, a simple suspension upgrade was the initial plan. That is until a chain of events took place.
According to Speedway’s article, The Camaro sat in the shop collecting dust while two other G-Comp-equipped rides went together. First a ’65 Nova and then a ’70 Camaro. Building and then campaigning those cars in autocross and road-racing events across the country taught us a whole lot about our products and what it takes to be competitive at the national level. With each event, we got smarter… and faster.
As you can imagine, the learning curve was to be applied to the Camaro. Before we go any further, we need to let you know that the Camaro’s good looks were deceiving. According to Speedway, it was rusty, and when it got back from media blasting, very large areas of sheetmetal were missing. Also, it began life as a six-cylinder grandma car. No big block-equipped or Rally Sport cars were harmed in the making of this corner-carving machine.
From the get-go, the folks at Speedway Motors planned to make this thing corner like nothing else, so a large-by-huge tire would need to be utilized. But how do get an overly large tire under a ’67 Camaro? Well, when you cram a 355/30ZR19 Kumho tire under an early F-body, to say you quickly run out of a room is an understatement. To make it happen, the guys in the shop covered those meats with some giant fender flares. Speedway’s in-house fiberglass shop cooked-up the flares so they could be attached to the fiberglass fenders.
The car’s exterior shade of purple is no surprise, so the bodywork was covered in the new Mopar remix of Plum Crazy. Also, what’s a hot rod without flames? Automotive artist Jeff Allison designed and applied the flame graphics that make the already wild-looking Camaro a full-on 1:1 scale toy car. If it looks like a model you might have assembled as a kid, that is intentional.
The front suspension is a modified version of Speedway’s G-Comp that was developed to try some new ideas that the engineers had been thinking about. First, the front frame rails were pulled inward, toward the engine. This narrow package allowed some much-needed room for the giant tires to turn with a respectable turning angle. Another obvious deviation from the norm is the location of the steering rack. With the small centrifugal water pump mounted next to the oil pan, the rack was free to move right in front of the cam. This makes everything right with the bump-steer geometry and allows all the front-drive accessories to mount neatly to the aluminum motor plate. That plate also allows the engine to function as a structural member of the front subframe, stiffening the whole assembly.
The rear suspension was confiscated from a 2011 Camaro, pulled from its junkyard resting place, and extensively modified with BMR arms, a G-Force Engineering 9-inch center, upgraded half shafts, and pushrod-actuated shocks designed in-house. This was all tied together by a custom frame assembly that extends from the rear bumper forward to the front subframe. We’re sure handling is nothing short of phenomenal.
While you’ll have to read the original Speedway article to get all the details, suffice to say, the drivetrain is a thing of beauty. Speedway Racing Engines built it using a Callies 3.875-inch stroke crankshaft in a Chevrolet Performance block with 4.130-inch bores. Assembled, there are 421 cubic inches of displacement to melt the hides. Carillo connecting rods swing CP pistons that yield a very angry 14.2:1 compression ratio. A Huggins solid-roller cam actuates T&D shaft rockers on GM Bow Tie 18-degree cylinder heads. It’s all topped off with a wild, magnesium Kinsler injector converted to EFI and managed by a F.A.S.T. computer. The whole thing looks and sounds like a big, angry sprint car engine ready to duke it out at 9,000 rpm.
When completely assembled, the car was destined to hot the autocross courses and dominate. Let’s say it did so in great fashion. The folks at Speedway told us that in its first full season, it made a couple of appearances on the Goodguys AutoCross circuit, culminating in a big win at the Duel in the Desert in Scottsdale. This victory got driver, Robby Unser, and this Camaro crowned as the 2017 Autocrosser of the Year. It’s also worth noting that this was the first non-Corvette to ever claim that title.
“The ’67 is incredible. It is a bad beast,” quips driver Robby Unser. “Corvettes were winning everything and we wanted to beat the Corvettes but didn’t want to do it in a ‘Vette. We decided we wanted to do it in a Camaro. We found these tires and we were in Phoenix, thinking, ‘if we run those maybe we can do it’. We built the car and worked really hard over the winter, tested it, and ended up winning Columbus and Scottsdale in it.”