Car Feature: Blown Camaro

photos by: the author

Bull Pro Street Camaro

When we take our “Timeless Muscle” cars to shows or cruises, we often hear phrases such as, “Man! I had a car just like this back in high school. I sold it 35 years ago and have regretted it ever since.” It’s a familiar refrain, ex-gearheads lamenting the poor choices of their youth, many of them never able to recapture the euphoric feeling they had with their first muscle cars.

There are, however, a small percentage of us motorheads who have retained enough gray matter to realize our first cars are something incredibly special. These are cars in which we had our first dates, enjoyed recklessly great times with friends, and drove the hell out of.

Lil Bull (real name, folks) of Orlando, Florida has owned his 1968 Camaro convertible RS/SS clone since he was a young calf, way back in 1974. Purchased for $900, the car looked nothing like the Pro-Streeter you see here, but was still a rad ride, nonetheless. Bull tells us, “When I bought the car, it was red with black stripes and had a 327-ci motor, 4-speed manual trans, and a 12-bolt rear with 3.07 gears. I started going to the track in 1977, running low 14-second times with that combo.”

The Camaro was naturally aspirated from the time of purchase in 1974 through 2002, nitrous oxide was employed from 2003-2005, a ProCharger was used from 2005-2008, and a roots supercharger has been set up from 2008-present. Got it? Good. It would take decades of time, commitment, and help from many people along the way to transform the car into the radical 8-second beast you now see before you.

It’d be easy to say that the current engine is what grabs everyone’s attention—we did, in fact, hear Bull before we saw him on the day of our photo shoot—but the bright Tangelo Pearl paint and the steamroller tires out back certainly make lasting impressions on their own.

Bull has a great sense of humor and likes to joke that his Camaro is “the slowest blower car in the world,” but we know better. This car is a regular at dragstrips in and around Central Florida and the list of hardware proves that this thing was meant to boogie woogie!

The engine is an alcohol-fed, 540-ci, big-block Chevy built around a Dart block topped with Dart 345-cylinder heads. The bottom end was built by Central Florida Machine (Bull did the rest) and utilizes Diamond 4.50-inch diameter pistons, Olivers connecting rods, and a 4.25-inch stroke Callies crankshaft. Bull is keeping his cam specs close to the vest, so all we can do is guess and say it’s “big, REAL big.” A Titan oil pump keeps the 12 quarts(!) of crude circulating in the deep Moroso pan and three-quart accumulator.

Though the BDS 10-71 supercharger gets most of the ‘oohs and aahs’ from spectators, the ultra-high-rise plenum leaves many a mouth agape in shock and awe as well. But it’s not just for intimidation, as Bull runs two sets of fuel injectors; one set is housed way up high, the other down low. This configuration is good for 50 more horsepower than the previous setup. The BDS huffer is running at 24% overdrive and rests on a BDS intake manifold. An Aeromotive belt-driven fuel pump keeps the mill fed from a Jazz 12-gallon cell. An MSD Digital 7 ignition, MSD coil, and distributor fire off the volatile mix. Massive Lemon headers with 2.5-inch primary tubes and 5.0-inch collectors spew out enough toxic gasses to rip another hole in the ozone layer. To paraphrase Doc Brown, “Mufflers? Where we’re going, we don’t need mufflers.”

With all those crazed, drunken ponies from that 540-ci mill, Bull needed a stout transmission to back it up. A Reid TH-400 three-speed automatic utilizes a Turbo Action shifter and a Hipster Steel trans-brake. The torque converter is a 10-inch PTC unit with a 4,800-rpm stall speed. A PST carbon fiber driveshaft connects to a Moser Ford 9-inch rear-end that takes all the abuse Bull dishes out. Both components have proven reliable thus far. Axles are 40-spline Moser pieces, and the 3.89 gears are supplied by Richmond.

Bull has two sets of wheels and tires: Weld V-Series 15x14s with double bead locks contain the 14-inch-wide Mickey Thompson slicks while 15×3.5 wheels house the pizza cutters up front. When terrorizing his neighborhood, he switches over to Weld Pro Stars with equal sized Mickey Thompson Pro series rubber.

The front suspension consists of Global West upper and lower control arms and QA1 double adjustable coil over shocks. The steering gearbox and spindles are factory components. Chassis Engineering ladder bars and AFCO double adjustable shocks reside out back.

How do you stop a runaway Bull? With excellent braking components, consisting of Wilwood and Aerospace hardware, of course. Up front are 13-inch rotors with 10-inchers in the rear. There are 4-piston calipers at all four corners and dual parachutes are deployed when needed.

Street-N-Strip Automotive in Orlando, Florida performed the paint and body on Bull’s Chevy. All new metal was utilized, including new door assemblies, fenders, and trunk lid. The shop used pieces of three different quarter panels for each side to widen them six inches while maintaining factory styling cues. The body was then primed and laboriously block-sanded, providing a straight and true surface on which to apply the striking House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl paint. One cool aspect of the color is that it appears radically different in sunlight versus shade, as you can clearly see in the photos.

The car looks exceptional, especially for having been sprayed nearly 20 years ago! Bull visited the shop every day to inspect the progress of his beloved Camaro, and an employee noted that he never saw anyone check on their car like he did. Bull didn’t mention if his presence there helped or hindered the build.

The interior of Bull’s machine is all business, with a 10-point roll cage surrounding Jazz racing seats along with myriad switches and AutoMeter gauges. Bull is quick to point out that the headlights, turn signals, windshield wipers, and interior lights are all in working order. An RJS cam lock harness keeps him strapped in like the Ice Man in Top Gun.

At car shows, Bull sometimes grows weary of the common question, “So, how fast does it go?” He amuses himself by telling people it runs 11.40 seconds in the quarter mile. “They don’t seem to believe me,” he chuckles.

Bull plans to enjoy this thing until his final days; racing, showing, and just causing a general ruckus, but would like to see one dream come true, “To show the prior owner the car as it looks today would be awesome.”

Lil Bull hesitated to name any of the people or companies who had helped him build his Camaro, simply because he didn’t want to forget anyone. A great many ‘TANX,’ as Bull would say, are extended to, BLP Products, Chassis Crafters, Central Florida Machine Shop, G&G Throttle Tuning, Central Florida Powder Coating, Summit Racing, All Performance Super Center, Ultimate Motor Sports, JR Auto Center Inc., Emo’s Upholstery, NPD, Tom Callis Racing, EFI Store, Tuners Inc., Allen Dillman Transmissions, Prodigy Customs, and many great friends along the way. Your author takes any and all responsibility for leaving anyone out!

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