What have you done in the last 48 hours? Change an ink cartridge? Catch a sinus infection? Struggle with how you enjoyed the last Harry Potter movie more than your kids did? In the grand scheme of things, 48 hours isn’t much time to do anything substantial, but don’t tell that to the guys at RideTech. Over a span of three 16-hour work days last May, they built an entire car. Not just any car, but a sweet 1967 Chevy Camaro that packs a 560hp LS3 small-block, a Muncie stick, a cutting-edge RideTech suspension, six-piston Baer clamps, and even A/C. While the final product is by no means the greatest Pro Touring first-gen Camaro in existence, its performance puts to shame cars that take 48 months, or 48 years, to build.
We know it sounds completely bogus, but this build actually happened, and the aptly named 48 Hour Camaro is real. RideTech documented the entire build process live at www.48HourCamaro.com, and if that’s not proof enough, you’ll be seeing a lot more of this car in person at national autocross and road racing events. Lame manufactured drama aside, the beef most hot rodders have with those hackneyed build-a-car-in-a-week reality TV shows is that you rarely see these machines in action. Each episode usually concludes with the motor firing up, someone rapping the throttle in Park for dramatic effect, and a bunch of grown men crying like babies, probably from the rich exhaust fumes resulting from an untuned carb. Even if your heart strings were tied to a cargo boat hauling cheap Chinese merchandise to American shores, the staged dramatics wouldn’t be tugging at them.
As a refreshing break from the norm, RideTech wanted to build a real performance vehicle capable of engaging in real hot rodding activities. And if you know anything about RideTech’s past projects, you’re well aware that these guys beat the snot out of all their cars. “The day after we finished up the Camaro, we drove it 200 miles to the Goodguys Show in Nashville, raced it all weekend in the autocross, finished Second Place in the Vendor class, and drove it back home without any issues. We’ve put a solid 12,000 miles on the car in the first two months, and burned through four sets of tires,” says Bret Voelkel of RideTech.
Although it’s been established that the 48 Hour Camaro is a genuine g-Machine, why would anyone voluntarily subject themselves to such torture? As it turns out, the project wasn’t so much a publicity stunt—but in the true hot rodding spirit—a means of tackling a challenge full-bore just to see if it could be done. “A group of aftermarket reps and I were standing around the Holley LS Fest last year marveling over the quality and variety of bolt-on parts that are available these days for muscle cars,” Bret says. “So many of the parts are model-specific that someone can build an entire car without any welding or fabrication skills. The idea for this project came together from there, and I figured that with enough planning, you could build an entire car in 48 hours. This project wasn’t about seeing how fast it could be done. It was to show how easy it is to build a car with modern bolt-on parts.”
Ultimately, the wrenching concluded in 46 hours, but Bret is quick to point out that pulling it all off required a painstaking planning process. “There was a solid 10 months and 1,000 hours of planning leading up to the start of the build. After the LS Fest, Greg Schneider and I—along with Scott Payton and Mike Julian of Route 2 Media, and Chad Reynolds of BangShift.com—got together once or twice a week to organize the logistics and filming of the build,” Bret says. “We planned out the sequence of exactly how the car was going to come together, and plotted out how long each step would take on a spreadsheet. Once the build started on May 16, there were six people from the RideTech shop on the primary build team: two people for the engine compartment, two people beneath the car, and two people for the interior. To prevent any conflict and delays, each team had a designated leader that would make important decisions when necessary. Additionally, Baer, Lingenfelter, Vintage Air, and Forgeline each sent representatives to oversee the installation of their parts.”
In order to keep the build on schedule and stick with the bolt-on agenda, Bret purchased a nicely restored ’67 Camaro. By starting with a solid car that didn’t need any bodywork, he was able to immediately focus on bolting on parts. “I first spotted this car at a show, where it had just won a trophy. There are two or three Camaros like this at any local car show, so it’s very much representative of the kind of cars that are out there,” he says. Knowing well before the build that the 383 stroker small-block and TH350 trans would be replaced, Bret hooked up with Lingenfelter Performance Engineering to come up with a suitable engine combo. The result is a warmed-over LS3 with ported factory cylinder heads and a 215/231-at-.050 hydraulic roller cam that produces 560 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque. That power gets sent to a built Muncie M20 four-speed stick mated to a Gear Vendors overdrive unit, which is a truly unique departure from that of your typical g-Machine. “A Muncie was a natural selection for this project because we didn’t have any time for the trans tunnel mods that a T56 would have required,” Bret says. “The Muncie fit perfectly, and didn’t even need an aftermarket crossmember. It’s very easy to powershift a Muncie, and the Gear Vendors unit is almost an unfair advantage on the autocross. I can run the whole length of a typical autocross course in Third gear by toggling between the under and overdrive on the Gear Vendors unit.”
When you’re in a rush, the interior is an easy place to overlook. Not so with the 48 Hour
Of course, as a company that manufactures premium suspension components, RideTech fitted the 48 Hour Camaro with the best stuff its catalog has to offer. Up front are RideTech’s tubular control arms, sway bar, and spindles. In the rear, the factory leaf springs have been booted in favor of a RideTech four-link setup, which locates a Moser 12-bolt rearend. BFGoodrich rubber provides the stick and wraps around 18-inch Forgeline GA3R wheels. With the serious acceleration and cornering speeds made possible by the impressive chassis hardware, Bret didn’t skimp on the brakes. Scrubbing off speed are a set of 14-inch Baer discs with six-piston calipers at each corner, a setup that Bret says out-stops his ’07 Z06. Providing a firm foundation for all the lateral and longitudinal loads is a RideTech Tiger Cage that, you guessed it, bolted right in.
The Camaro’s skin required no bodywork whatsoever. All the body panels, glass, and trim we
In a car that was built under such severe time constraints, you’d expect a package that’s no frills and all business. Wrong. Surprisingly, the 48 Hour Camaro not only trounces the competition on the track, but it boasts a full list of luxuries that makes driving it to and from those events as comfortable as possible. The interior features Recaro seats, a Vintage Air A/C system, an iPod hookup, carbon-fiber gauge pods, and trick-looking billet window cranks. To cut down on road noise and installation time, the entire cabin has been lined with a Dynamat kit that comes in precut sections. For a car that was built on such an abbreviated schedule, the attention to detail is simply superb.
As if completing the 48 Hour Camaro two hours ahead of schedule wasn’t impressive enough, Bret figures the crew could have finished 10 hours sooner if they didn’t document everything on camera. Despite that delay, it’s hard to imagine someone building a car that can even come close to the 48 Hour Camaro in overall execution in a shorter duration of build time. Considering that it’s possible to build a car like this in 48 hours, there’s really no excuse for projects that drag out for months or years and never get finished. It’s a car that makes us all feel like slackers, so perhaps we should all bust out the wrenches and get to work.
Not long after the 48 Hour Camaro hit the road, the automotive industry suffered the loss of Todd Gartshore of Baer Brakes, who was the earliest supporter of the project. A man who was loved and respected by everyone in the industry, Todd has been a fixture in the aftermarket since the early ’80s, working for companies such as Quickor Engineering, CarTech, HKS, and Vortech. Alongside Hal Baer, Todd cofounded Baer Brakes in 1994 and served as the company’s vice president of marketing until his sudden death on June 26. We offer our sincere condolences to Todd’s family and friends.
One of the most affable people in the business, Todd was instrumental in bringing countless high-caliber projects to fruition. Coincidentally, the 48 Hour Camaro was the last big project Todd participated in. “Todd’s been an integral part of several cars we’ve built here at RideTech. One reason I’m not very well versed on braking systems is because whenever I needed help with anything, I just gave Todd a call,” Bret Voelkel says. “He was the first person we talked to about the project, and the first one to commit his time to come to our shop to help out. Within three minutes of talking to him about this car, he had a game plan lined out and parts on the way. His passing is a huge loss on a personal level to everyone at RideTech.”
“This car has exceeded all my expectations. We’ve run the heck out of it already, and it even gets 20 mpg.” —Bret Voelkel
Instead of working for two days straight, RideTech conceived a much more practical schedul
Suspending each corner of the 48 Hour Camaro is RideTech’s new triple-adjustable coilover
First-gen Camaros are usually limited to 235mm-wide front tires, but RideTech has solved t
By The Numbers
1967 Chevy Camaro
Bret Voelkel, 49 • Jasper, IN
Type: GM 377ci LS3 small-block
Block: stock LS3 bored to 4.070 inches
Oiling: blueprinted LPE pump, Holley pickup and cast-aluminum pan
Rotating assembly: stock GM crank and rods, Mahle forged 11.3:1 pistons
Cylinder heads: GM LS3 castings with 2.165/1.590-inch valves ported by LPE
Camshaft: LPE 215/231-at-.050 hydraulic roller; .631/.644-inch lift; 118-degree LSA
Valvetrain: COMP Cams timing set, valvesprings, retainers, locks, and 1.7:1 rocker arms
Induction: GM LS3 intake manifold, Holley 92mm throttle-body
Fuel system: Rick’s Hot Rod Shop gas tank, Aeromotive pump, Holley 60 lb/hr injectors, LPE fuel rails, Earl’s lines
Engine management: Holley Dominator stand-alone EFI
Exhaust: Hooker 1.75-inch long-tube headers, dual 3-inch Cherry Bomb mufflers
Cooling: U.S. Radiator Desert Cooler and electric fan; GM water pump
Output: 560 hp and 570 lb-ft
Built by: Lingenfelter Performance Engineering
Transmission: Muncie M20 four-speed manual built by Auto Gear Equipment, Gear Vendors overdrive unit, Quick Time bellhousing, Science Friction clutch
Rear axle: Moser 12-bolt rearend with 35-spline axles, 3.50:1 gears, and Wavetrac differential
Front suspension: RideTech control arms, triple-adjustable coilovers, spindles, and sway bar
Rear suspension: RideTech four-link, triple-adjustable coilovers, and sway bar
Brakes: Baer 14-inch rotor and six-piston calipers
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Forgeline GA3R 18x10, front; 18x12, rear
Tires: BFGoodrich 275/35R18, front; 335/30R18, rear