The Camaro looked great at this point but still needed a new motor, and Dallas was itching to make his car even faster. As luck would have it, he crossed paths with a man who would set him straight at a local drag racing event. “When I met Ron Aschtgen from Outlaw Motorsports and once I saw the kind of work he did firsthand, I knew he was up to the task of taking my car to the next level. The project just snowballed from there, and before long Ron installed a new Sonny Leonard 555ci big-block, a Chassisworks front clip, RideTech air springs, and subframe connectors,” Dallas explains. “Back in 2002, motors this large were still somewhat rare for a street car. I took the new setup to the track and the car laid down an 11.23 at 121 mph. I really like being able to soften up the air springs at the track to help the car hook up.”

Despite the motor’s age, it’s still plenty stout by today’s standards. It’s based on a World Products block bored to 4.560 inches, and fitted with a Callies 4.250-inch forged crank, Manley steel rods, and JE 10.0:1 pistons. Feeding all those hungry cubes are Brodix BB-2 Xtra aluminum cylinder heads, an Edelbrock Victor intake, and a Holley 1,050-cfm Dominator carb. A built TH400 transmission paired with a Coan 3,500-stall converter channel the power back to a GM 12-bolt rearend. For a car that leaves the gate so efficiently, the chassis is remarkably simple. Planting the power out back are Calvert Racing leaf springs and traction bars that work in concert with Rancho adjustable shocks. Up front, instead of fiddling with the stock suspension hardware, Dallas swapped it out for a Chassisworks front clip. The setup includes a new subframe assembly, twin A-arms, spindles, double-adjustable shocks, and air springs. The Chassisworks clip doesn’t just work great on the street and at the track, but its revised geometry also allows for a far more aggressive stance.

Like most hot rodders, Dallas isn’t someone who stays content for very long, and he felt that a deep 11-second car was too close to the 10-second barrier to justify leaving it alone. As such, he yanked the hydraulic cam and replaced it with a COMP Cams 265/265-at-.050 solid roller. That bumped output up to 717 hp on the engine dyno, and dropped quarter-mile times down to 10.86 at 124 mph. Still not completely satisfied, Dallas wanted to update the car’s old-school Pro Street vibe. “I drove the car around on Weld Pro Star wheels, skinnies and drag radials for a very long time, and felt it was time to do something more modern,” he says. “Ron at Outlaw Motorsports set me up with some 18-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels for more of a Pro Touring look. When I can afford it, I plan on adding even more power along with an overdrive trans.”

With all the sob stories old farts like to tell about cars they should have never sold, it’s refreshing to run across guys like Dallas. He had the foresight to see how unique first-gen Camaros were long before they became coveted classics, and stuck with it over the decades. For his loyalty, Dallas’ reward is a car that would cost twice as much to build if he started from scratch today. More importantly, it’s a car that represents his evolution in the hobby from a newbie to a seasoned veteran. The real beauty in the story, however, is how Dallas’ incessant quest for improvement has transformed what should have been a hopeless, two-ton, $3,000 first-gen Camaro convertible with a 21-year-old paintjob into a 10-second street terror. As they say, hope does indeed come in many forms, but in this case, it looks a lot like a red ’68 Camaro convertible.

By The Numbers

1968 Chevy Camaro
Dallas Williams, 39 • Moreno Valley, CA
Type: Chevy 555ci big-block
Block: World Products Merlin II bored to 4.560 inches
Oiling: Melling pump, Moroso pan
Rotating assembly: Callies 4.250-inch steel crankshaft, Manley connecting rods, JE 10.0:1 pistons
Cylinder heads: Brodix BB-2 Xtra aluminum castings
Camshaft: COMP 265/265-at-.050 solid roller; .650/.650-inch lift
Valvetrain: COMP Cams lifters, pushrods, valvesprings, retainers, and locks; Jesel beltdrive
Induction: Edelbrock Victor intake manifold, Holley 1,050-cfm Dominator carb
Ignition: MSD distributor, coil, and plug wires
Exhaust: Lemons 2.125-inch long-tube headers, dual Flowmaster mufflers
Power adder: NOS fogger system jetted to 600 hp
Output: 717 hp at 6,500 rpm and 651 lb-ft at 6,200 rpm on motor
Built by: Outlaw Motorsports
Transmission: GM TH400 trans, Coan 3,500-stall torque converter
Rear axle: GM 12-bolt rearend with 4.10:1 gears and limited-slip differential
Front suspension: Chassisworks front clip, control arms, shocks, and spindles; RideTech air springs
Rear suspension: Calvert Racing leaf springs and traction bars; Rancho adjustable shocks
Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch discs and four-piston calipers, front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Rev-Wheel Classic 100; 18x9 (front), 20x10.5 (rear)
Tires: Toyo 245/40R18 (front), 275/30R20 (rear)