Every year, thousands of "new" cars emerge from their owner's garage, remade. They all represent the passion and vision of the builder. Some are reconstructions of a youthful memory-cruising the drive-in during high school or your best friend's car. The car that you couldn't afford at the time, but always wanted. Some are literal recreations of your first hot rod. Others push the boundaries of what is currently being done-radical changes in the way a car is built or performs. More power. A new level of custom bodywork.
But very few of them fit in the category of the car shown here. These types of cars change the way people aspire to build their cars for years to come. They literally change the face of our hobby forever. Cars in this league that came before include the Mustang II that Jack Roush built for Joe Rugirello, the Stone/Woods/Cook Willys, Pete Chapouris' Limefire '32 roadster, Billy Gibbon's CadZZilla, Troy Trepanier's '60 Chevy, and Danny Scott's '67 Camaro. These were cars that influenced people for decades to come and, in fact, still do today.
The carbon-fiber valve covers...
The carbon-fiber valve covers continue the racing theme of the engine down the sides, leading to Stenod Performance custom-built stainless headers.
The '67 Camaro you see on these pages is made of that same substance. If you didn't know the car's history, you'd think it was a pretty cool car. But this car was built 14 years ago. To help adjust your calendar, Clinton was in office with Lewinsky! Mark Stielow had built a brilliant '69 Camaro with combined handling and braking capability in a ponycar that hadn't seen that kind of effort since Dick Guldstrand messed with the platform in the early '70s. With lessons learned from Mark's first Camaro, he set out to build a car that pushed the performance limits of what you could do with a muscle car while still maintaining all that makes that car cool in the first place. Specifically, he wanted to build a muscle car to compete in the One Lap of America competition. The Red Witch was born.
Mark got the '67 Camaro from veteran magazine editor, Jeff Smith. It was a pretty clean Camaro from California with a 396. Jeff had long evangelized his concept of a 3g muscle car: vintage iron that could pull 1 g in acceleration, corner, and brake hard. The concept would become Pro Touring and spawn the g-Machines genre-and Mark and Jeff were of one mind on this topic.
The interior is simple, functional,...
The interior is simple, functional, and comfortable-exactly what is needed if you're going to drive cross-country and run the car hard on road courses. The mix of original equipment and hard-core equipment retains the flair of '60s muscle cars, and lets the interior look as good today as it did 14 years ago when this car was built.
Along with some improvements in the front suspension geometry, Mark wanted the car to ride on Corvette ZR-1 wheels and tires. Seventeen-inch wheels are no big thing now, but they were unheard of on a first-generation Camaro in 1996. Owners of these cars will also remind you that fitting meats like these is a nightmare, between sheetmetal interference, proper ride height, wheel backspacing, and so on. Not to mention that Mark wanted the car to perform on these tires, not just sit on them.
Mark stripped the car down to a shell. He had Shadowoods install the cage, and that's also where he and Kyle Tucker cut the rear of the car apart to install mini-tubs to clear the massive 315/35R17s. Fitting it all together meant fabricating wheel tubs, a custom Currie 9-inch housing, Landrum drag racing leaf springs, and Koni shocks. When it came to the front, Mark applied things learned from his '69 Camaro. He had figured out how to machine a set of Corvette spindles and use them with the factory lower control arms. He went a step further on this front suspension by fitting the system with coilovers and a set of tubular upper control arms. There's no coincidence that Kyle now sells all of these components through Detroit Speed and Engineering (DSE).
The 565ci big-block Chevy...
The 565ci big-block Chevy engine underhood looks anything but conventional. This is primarily because of the custom airbox and air intake. If this engine bay had a generic 350 with a carb, you probably wouldn't give it a second look today.
For the exterior, Mark left the factory lines and proportions alone. This type of car wasn't about stretched sheetmetal, or even flush-mount glass. It was about road race performance in a street-driveable muscle car. The front bumper was deleted, which gives '67-68 Camaros a clean look. The rest of the body is just the way it was originally designed.
A similar theme was applied to the interior. For competition, a full cage was required, as were five-point harnesses. The seats were upgraded to Recaros to keep the driver and passenger as planted as the Camaro would be on the road course. A factory steering column wears a Grant wheel. The original metal dash houses Auto Meter carbon-fiber Ultra-Lite gauges. A Pioneer tape deck sits in the factory radio location. Finally, a vague shifter pokes up through a factory-looking rubber boot on the transmission hump. Only people who know manual trannies really well will recognize the reverse lockout ring under the shifter knob, marking the trans as a '90s Corvette ZF six-speed. You might describe the interior as nondescript, but even this sets the tone for Pro Touring: monster gauges mounted in a way that preserves the classy '60s dash, high-quality racing seats, a cage that intrudes as little as possible on the passenger space, a distinct lack of billet, and nothing is changed for change's sake.