In the sanity that begins to take hold, you notice that this is not the typical ill-handling Pro Streeter. For one thing, you didn't have to dump the laundry to slow down from a buck five. Heck, it doesn't even pack a 'chute. It's actually got real brakes, and damn good ones at that. Baer six-piston binders chomp down on 14-inch rotors in front-same with the quad-piston calipers in the back. Good tires, too. The Nitto NT555s are indigenous to the Pro Touring set, so what the heck are they doing on a Pro Street Camaro? Less obvious to the casual observer, but way obvious to the driver and occupant is the top-shelf DSE suspension. On surface streets, the cornering prowess is shockingly good-its C6 Corvette-inspired front bits acting every bit the part. Instead of a stock leaf-spring setup, or worse, an '80s-era ladder bar Pro Street rig, the Camaro sports a DSE Quadra Link triangulated four-link in the rear. Looks like a Pro Streeter, built like a Pro Touring, but does both better than either. So what kind of twisted mind thought of that?
The mastermind behind this '68 Camaro plot is 33-year-old Paul Banks, the owner of Cherry Bomb Exhaust in Loudon, Tennessee. Over the years, Cherry Bomb has concocted a string of high-visibility project cars to promote their brand-sometimes even giving them away to customers in sweepstakes. But this time would be different. As CEO, Paul wanted his dream car, and he didn't have far to go for inspiration. Cherry Bomb was founded in 1968, so a '68 Camaro was a natural canvas to start with. The Cherry Bomb name and its infamous glasspack mufflers and side pipes were an iconic part of the performance landscape of the '70s, so Paul and the Cherry Bomb crew-ostensibly product and marketing manager, Matt Graves-instinctively knew they had to tap into that ethos.
Cherry Bomb's Camaro is understandably...
Cherry Bomb's Camaro is understandably a calling card for their products, thus it has not one, but two exhaust systems. The top toggle switch alternates between a pair of open 4-inch glasspack side pipes, and a dual 3-inch exhaust going through Cherry Bomb's chambered Vortex mufflers and rear-exiting tailpipes. The bottom switch is for the driving lights.
To help Paul and Matt turn the dream into a reality, they connected with the custom shop at YearOne in Braselton, Georgia. In collusion with YearOne's Phil Brewer and Kevin King, the Cherry Bomb guys took stock of the situation. In Cherry Bomb history, the years 1974-76 were significant watermarks. At that time, the sales and visibility of Cherry Bomb mufflers reached a peak that was so great, the company is practically synonymous with the era. "Back then, a car that was between six and 10 years old was real inexpensive, so that's what guys built. A '68 Camaro was the perfect car in 1974 because it was cheap and plentiful," Brewer says. The kernel for the idea quickly grew. Not only were they sold on the idea of taking all the visual cues from the mid '70s (à la blower through the hood, side pipes, Hurst shifter, hang-ten gas pedal, slot mags), they wanted something that was modern from a handling, driveability, and reliability standpoint.
Knowing this tidbit puts an interesting twist to the Pro Street/Pro Touring comparison. In point of fact, neither build style had come to fruition by 1974. The blended design has alternately elicited praise and scorn from onlookers who first saw it at the 2010 SEMA show, where it debuted last fall. We fall in the "love it!" camp because the Cherry Bomb Camaro does pretty much everything we could ever ask a hot rod to do: It burns, it turns, it stops, and it pushes our nostalgia hot buttons. Moreover, the Cherry Bomb Camaro banishes the biggest styling violations of the '70s to the scrap heap. No radiused wheelwells, no tires sticking out beyond the wheel arches, no meaningless graphic treatments, and no abuse of chrome.