It's not that Rob Morell is impossible to please. He's just always tinkering, trying something new, pushing the limits, and applying what he learns to make things work better. All of which are admirable traits, unless you're trying to finish a project car.
It all started 10 years ago when Rob was in high school. He was the typical high school student, who skated by the seat of his pants. He only really ever enjoyed his auto shop class, and paid just enough attention in his other classes to pass. Then it happened.
Rob recalls when he first saw his '73 Camaro: "The shop teacher's assistant owned the car. I always liked it, but I couldn't afford it." The weeks and months of his senior year came and went. The car was always there, but Rob had written it off as something that just wasn't meant for him. When he returned home from walking across the graduation stage, his parents surprised him with the car. It was waiting for him at home. Those are some cool parents!
The car was already modified when he received it. The Camaro sported a 383ci engine, a TH350 auto trans, and a blue paintjob with white racing stripes. Did we mention how cool his parents are? It didn't take Rob long to land the car at a dragstrip. Running low 13s, he was hooked. Every chance he got, he brought the Camaro to the track. He also started tuning and trying different components to shorten the trip down the quarter-mile.
Underhood of Rob Morell's...
Underhood of Rob Morell's '73 Camaro is a masterpiece of fabrication work. Between custom headers and all the tubing needed to plumb a turbo and intercooler, Rob and his friends created a Picasso that really pumps up the pressure. With a 408ci engine and 34 psi of boost, the car makes 1,200 hp.
Like all good things, however, that didn't last long. The Camaro was Rob's only car. And as he kept making modifications, he decided it would be best to get a second car to drive to college and his job. He found a four-banger Mustang that fit the bill: good gas mileage and dependable. But it wasn't long before Rob got thinking that what this car really needed was a V-8. Little did he know that his quest to make his commuter go faster would lead to a whole new life for the Camaro.
"Like most gearheads, I can't leave anything alone, so I started collecting parts to do a V-8 and five-speed swap," Rob says. "On Craigslist I found a turbo kit for a Mustang. I started reading and talking to people. I realized that this turbo kit had the potential to make 800 or 900 hp. It really opened my eyes."
After having quite a bit of success building a turbo Mustang, Rob decided to take the components and everything he learned, and apply it to his second-generation F-body. This was a major tear up for the car. Rob said he gave up on it plenty of times when he got frustrated over a part not fitting right, or if things did not go the way he thought they would. Whether it was his friends' encouragement or his ultimate determination, he kept coming back to it and eventually got the car back on the road.
An all-new 408ci small-block was put together as a turbo engine. Rob started with a Dart block. Then he selected Pro Action aluminum cylinder heads and CP pistons for an 8.5:1 compression ratio- perfect for copious amounts of boost. He had Kenny Duttweiler grind a custom camshaft and used all roller valvetrain gear to control the gasses. He anticipated massive pressure on the bottom end, so a Kryptonite billet crank was selected along with Oliver billet connecting rods.
The real work on the engine started when Rob got to the induction system. He went with Monster Garage on an Edelbrock Super Victor intake, welding on fuel-injection bungs and making a few other mods to prep it for life as an EFI intake on a turbo V-8. BigStuff3 delivered the EFI components and controller needed to spray enough fuel to keep up with demands this engine would call for. Then he had Don Bailey of DCB Enterprises tune the system. Rob used an 88mm Precision GT-47 turbo and fabricated the tubing necessary to connect it to the custom-built headers, the 60mm HKS GT2 wastegate, and the air-to-air intercooler.