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Car Corner
Project Camaro

April 1, 2018
By Scott Lewis

Welcome to Project Camaro.

I recently purchased a 1968 Camaro. It is very original. However, I do want to make it better. For a little more background you can read this article. I apologize for some duplication from that article here.

This introduction will tell you about the car and spell out the basic plan I have for modifying it. I do not want to be one of those guys that "cuts-up" a perfectly good, original car. All of the modifications I plan for this car are bolt-on, and completely reversible.

The car itself is a 3 owner Camaro with 72k original miles. It is powered by a 327 - 2 barrel engine with a 3 speed manual on the column. As for options on the car... I can't find any. The stereo is one of those custom radios that has modern internals but are designed for the old car. Hey, it has AUX input for my iPhone. It has an antenna, and a vinyl roof. That and the lowest V-8 available in a 68 Camaro. I just don't see any other options on the car. I am hoping to find a build sheet when I take the interior out to install new carpet.

The Goals

My goals for this car are simple. Every modification will be related to these goals in one way or another.

1) Slightly improve the appearance of the vehicle without altering its stock nature.

2) Improve the overall drivability of the car without impacting its reliability or appearance as a nearly stock vehicle.

Two simple goals. For the appearance it means making changes the factory might have done. Cowl induction hood, front and rear spoilers and possibly a Rally Sport conversion with hide-away headlights.

Drivability is more difficult to define. For me, it means getting the car to perform more like a modern car while maintaining ride comfort. Ideally I want the car to drive like a current V-6 Camaro. If that is not possible than as well as the 93 Camaro Z-28 I had.

These goals are quite simple and very important. I will make all decisions on parts for this car while keeping these goals in mind. This should allow me to stay focused throughout this project.

Appearance

Much of this is a recap of the article linked above, so I will be short here.

I want to add a Cowl Induction hood, front & rear spoilers, and maybe a Rally Sport conversion to hide-away headlights.

The cowl induction hood was available from the factory on the 69 Camaro, so this is not a stretch of my goal that states, "changes the factory might have done."

I have not made up my mind on stripes yet. I want to talk to my auto restoration shop (Renown Auto, with link). I want to know their thoughts on doing Ghost Z/28 stripes. I already have the stencil kit (it came with the car). I will be having them paint the hood and rear spoiler to match the car. Why not have them do stripes as well. If I do have ghost stripes painted it will be the only "custom" touch that will not look factory. If I don't get ghost stripes I may still go with black Z/28 stripes, or any other factory stripe option. There is plenty of time to worry about this.

OER R370 - Injection-Molded Front Spoiler $48.97
Goodmark GMK402070167 - Camaro Spoiler, Rear, 67-68 Camaro $114.95
67-69 Camaro Cowl Hood (Factory Style) $249.95

Sub Total $413.87

Wheels & Tires

I mocked up different wheel choices using Photoshop, and posted them on Instagram. However, I was pretty sure I was getting Wheel Vintique Rallye Wheels in sizes 17x7 front & 17x8 rear. Tire sizes are are 225/45-17 front & 245/45-17 in the back. I will be going with BF Goodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 tires.

I am conflicted with the Wheel Vintique Rallye wheels. They offer the perfect size, especially for the front. Their 17x7 wheel has a 4.5 inch backspacing. My research shows that a 4.25 inch backspacing is ideal. All the other 17x7 wheels I have found have a 4 inch backspacing. That 1/2 inch might be the difference between rubbing and not.

Unfortunately, the Wheel Vintique trim rings for their Rallye wheels is only 1.5 inches deep. The trim rings on my current Rally wheels are deeper. I can't seem to find any deeper trim rings in the 17" size. If anyone knows of them... please contact me immediately.

The alternative is to go with aluminum wheels. Vision American Muscle has an Aluminum Rallye wheel with a gunmetal gray finish and a machined outer rim. This provides the look of the original without a trim ring. It also saves about 5 pounds per wheel. Unfortunately, it has the 4 inch backspacing.

I should probably look into each companies return policies and order 1 wheel from each and see how they look and fit on my car. Then send one back.

In the end I went with the Wheel Vintiques. You can see these in the photo above.

66 Series Chevy Style Rallye Silver 17 x 7 (4.5 bs) $189.99 x2 = $379.98
66 Series Chevy Style Rallye Silver 17 x 8 (4.5 bs) $219.99 x2 = $439.98
Trim Rings 3005-17 $42.97 x4 = $171.88
Center Caps 1012 $44.97 x4 = $179.88
BF Goodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 225/45-17 $116.00 x2 = $232.00
BF Goodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 245/45-17 $135.00 x2 = $270.00

Sub Total $1,673.72

Brakes and Suspension

I am about to outline a phased approach to building a good handling car. I have done a lot of research and I believe that this will be the best plan FOR ME. I am not looking to race this car, I just want great handling on the street and twisty hill country roads.

Since I cannot afford to jump in an buy a complete 4 wheel disc brake setup and a full Detroit Speed suspension kit now, I am going to do the best I can to incorporating pieces from a few manufacturers to build a competent setup. I know... you think I am nuts. I can't design a suspension better than all those engineers from a few parts catalogs. Since I want everything to be bolt-on and I want to maintain a close to stock appearance I think I can make the best choices all around without going overboard. We'll see.

Phase 1 - Front Disc Brakes

I cannot afford the wheels & tires at the same time as all the brakes, so I am going to start with just the front brakes. Many cars had disc/drum setups for years. I should be able to greatly improve the braking performance with the fronts initially. Also, it will give me a chance to see how the brakes feel. I will initially stay with manual brakes. If I feel the need for power brakes, that will be added when I upgrade the rear brakes.

Wilwood Brake Kit 140-7675-D $937.99
Wilwood Flexline 220-7056 $66.61
Wilwood Aluminum Tandem M/C Kit $374.96
NPD Line Set Front Brake C-4685-30B $88.95

Sub-Total $1,468.51

Phase 2 - Front Rebuild & Coil-overs

My restoration shop owner thinks I should save up for the Detroit Speed suspension setup with coil-overs (shock and coil spring together) as well as tubular control arms, front sway bar and rear leaf springs with matching shocks. It is an impressive kit at $3,880.

It will be about 2 years before I can save enough to install that kit, especially given I want to add A/C which is a big ticket item itself. I researched a few inexpensive options to lower the car in the mean time. I did not want to spend a lot of money on throw away parts, but a few hundred dollars for drop spindles or shorter springs as well as lowering blocks seemed reasonable to get a proper stance with the wheels and tires for the short term.

Initially I wanted to go with dropped spindles. Looking at forums it seems there are a lot of issues with them. Most dropped spindles seem to leave the end of the steering arm to close to the wheel and this causes issues. I am in no position to do any fabricating, which might be necessary if a dropped spindle caused interference problems. Some information led to the fact that worn springs could make the drop too low and have bottoming out issues. Finally, I read that Wilwood's brakes would not work with aftermarket dropped spindles.

Next I looked into coil springs that lower the car. I found a lot of information on linear vs. variable spring rates. A lot of the springs I saw of both types did not tell you the spring rate. In my research I saw something that said the factory spring rate for my car should be 327 lb/in. I want something a little better for handling, but not punishing for ride. It was at this time that I came across QA1's coil over setup.

I did not think I would go with coil-overs because they would be too expensive and I would have to wait too long. However, the more research I did the more they made sense... if they were of good quality and affordable.

QA1 has two huge things going for it here. 1) They make a coil over that works with the stock control arms and 2) they offer a lot of choices for the spring rate. This is perfect. I get the advantage of coil overs for adjusting my suspension, including adjusting the shocks, plus the suspension is still close to stock. The coil overs bolt right in place of the original shocks and springs. Since I will not be doing any hard core driving this is the sweet spot with minimum compromise to my goals.

Of course, since this means using most of the original suspension I will take the time to rebuild the front end throughout. I will also use lowering blocks in the rear until I address the rear suspension with springs and shocks of their own.

QA1 Single Adjustable Front Coilover Kit $549.99
Polygraphite Performance Super Front End Kit $399.00
Speedway Leaf Spring Lowering Block Kit $34.99

Sub-Total $983.98

Phase Swap: 1, 2 or 2, 1

I am currently on the fence if I should switch Phase 1 and 2. I really need to get out on the road and see how well the drum brakes work. The previous owner of this car told me he had a Camaro that he drag raced equipped with drum brakes and never had trouble with them stopping his drag car from speeds over 125 mph.

I am so curious how the car will look with a proper stance I may buy the QA1 coil-overs and install them first. This will allow me to evaluate the ride with the spring rate I chose (400 lb/in). QA1 sells other springs for a reasonable amount if I do not like the ride of the car. For just a couple hundred bucks I can go to a softer or firmer spring that will fit the coil over.

We will see.

Phase 3 - Rear Suspension

At this point I will hopefully know what is more important. As I write this I am putting the rear suspension next. Time for some new leaf springs and some kind of adjustable shocks. I like the Hotchkis spring setup, and kind of like their sway bar setup (more later). To pair that up... I might go with QA1's adjustable rear shocks. However, at $375 for the pair that is a pricey option. I can get KYB Gas-A-Just Shocks for $119/pair. I will have a better idea once I have driven the car with QA1's adjustable front setup. If it really impresses me than I will get their rear shocks. Obviously we would be ditching the lowering block here.

Hotchkis Sport Suspension Lowering Leaf Spring $449.99
QA1 703 Aluminum Stocker Star Shock Rear $187.95/ea x2 = $375.90

Alternatively
KYB Rear Gas-A-Just Shocks $119.00

Sub Total $568.99-825.89

Phase 4 - Sway Bars

With Hotchkis rear springs already on the car it would make sense to continue and get their sway bar kit. At $1000 that is a lot of money. Also, the rear mounting brace for their rear sway bar looks like it deviates from my goal of, "without altering its stock nature." P-S-T makes a nice set of sway bars. The front is just a better one than the factory, and goes in the same location. The rear is simpler than Hotchkis as it just clamps to the rear axle housing. It is also about half the price. I have to wonder, how much difference will it make in regular street driving.

Sway Bar Option #1

P-S-T Pro-Touring 1 1/8" Front Sway Bar $239.00
P-S-T Pro-Touring 3/4" Rear Sway Bar $279.00

Sway Bar Option #2

Hotchkis 1967-1969 GM F-Body Front Sway Bar $325.00
Hotchkis 1967-1969 Camaro Rear Sway Bar/Brace $675.00

Sub Total $518-1,000

Phase 5 - Rear Brakes & Power Steering

One thing missing from above was steering. All the steering linkage is replaced with the front end rebuild kit. Here we just have to decide if I want power assist. If I need power assist for the steering and brakes that will happen here. If I like the car without power, I will just skip straight to the Wilwood rear disc brakes.

Brake Kit No: 140-7149-D $842.52
Black Calipers
4-Piston Rear Kit
12.19-in Rotor Diameter
Flange: 12 Bolt
Offset: 2.75
15-in Min Wheel Dia*

Flexline No: 220-7056 $66.61
Parking Brake Cable Kit - 330-9371 $129.54
NPD Line Set Front to Rear Brake C-4685-41B $74.95

Sub Total $1,113.62

Power

I am going to try and add a little power to the original 327. I will need to do a compression test to see if the engine is up to it. If it is, I want to add just a few mild performance items. However, I am still wrestling with adding aluminum heads. I want them, I just wonder if it is overkill for the 327.

I want to be sure that most items I get for the 327 can work on a 383 crate short block (head, intake, fuel injection, exhaust) should that eventual happen.

I definitely want to install a mild performance camshaft. This would NOT get migrated to a 383 engine (if I even get one). Fuel Injection is definitely going to happen, sooner or later. I will be installing Holley's Sniper EFI system that bolts onto a 4 barrel intake manifold. I will also get Holley's gas tank for my car with the in-tank fuel pump. This will make for a very clean install.

If this setup works, I probably will give up on a crate motor.

In the short term I may install an Edelbrock Performer Series carburetor. This would be one of the few "throw" away parts.

Basic Cam & Intake

COMP Cams CL12-256-4 -Xtreme Energy Cam and Lifter Kits $204.99
Grind #: CS XE256H-12
Advertised Duration: 256/268
Duration @.050: 212/218
Lift: 0.449 int./0.456 exh.
Lobe Separation: 112

COMP Cams 2100 - COMP Cams Magnum Double Roller Timing Set $29.99
Edelbrock 2601 - Performer Air-Gap Intake Manifold $271.95
PerTronix Ignitor II Solid-State Ignition Systems 91181 $98.97
Edelbrock 1406 - Performer Carburetors $343.95

Sub Total $982.83

Fuel Injection & Heads

Sniper 19-100 - EFI Fuel Tank System 1967-68 Chevy Camaro $566.95
Holley 550-516 - Sniper EFI Self-Tuning Kit - Classic Gold Finish $999.95
Edelbrock EDL-50891 - E-Street Cylinder Heads $1,542.50

Sub Total $3,109.40

Exhaust

Next up (or maybe before) will be shorty ceramic headers and a dual exhaust system. This may come as soon as I can afford it. Once the stance is set with 17" wheel & tires I may NEED to get the sound right. It kind of goes with the whole Muscle Car theme.

Hooker 2466-3HKR - Competition Darkside Ceramic Coated Headers $542.95
Magnaflo Dual Exhaust for Camaro #15896 $590.24

Sub-Total $1,133.19

Shifter - Carpet - DynaMat

Hurst 3667271 - Mastershift 3-Speed Shifters $223.95
NPD C-4015-1A - Camaro Shift Lever Boot OE-Quality Textured Heavy $26.95
NPD C-4015-21A - Camaro Shift Boot Retainer Repro $14.95
NPD C-4015-30A - Camaro Assembly Shift Plate Incl Lower Boot $54.95
NPD C-CAR-1-A - Camaro Carpet Raylon (Loop Style) Two Piece $152.95
Dynamat 18" x 32" Self-Adhesive Sound Deadener Xtreme Bulk Pack $154.69

Sub Total $628.70

Misc Interior

1967 Camaro Gen IV SureFit Complete Kit and Evaporator Kit $1,480.00
68 Series 68253-01B - 3-1 Gauge Kit 0-90 GM Fuel Sender $619.97
68 Series 88001-09 - Camaro Gauge Adapter Kit $51.70

Sub Total $2,151.67

Total $13,082.74

Conclusion

That's pretty scary to think I will put $13,000 into a $25,000 car. And I didn't even list upgrading to a 5 speed transmission. If I do as much work myself as possible, hopefully the car will be worth $35-$40K when its done. I know... I am dreaming. At least it will be fun and I expect this to take years as I enjoy driving the car along the way.

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