photos by: the author
Forgeline’s David Schardt Had Smitty’s Customs Build Him a Rolling Monument to 2nd-Gen F-body Excellence
The year 1970 was a pivotal one in American history; we were still waist deep in the trenches of Vietnam, The Beatles had just broken up and free love was still in full swing. The inevitable fuel crisis, and tightening insurance regulations and emissions standards were just about to take hold onto the American car market.
Meanwhile, muscle cars were at the top of their game, and there was a brand new Camaro roaming the streets. Depicting a longer, lower and wider body, it also featured new engine offerings and various styling packages. Some say it was the absolute pinnacle of automotive performance and style, but in that typical hot rod tradition, there’s always room for improvement.
Enter David Schardt, President of Forgeline.
Having a long history of owning track-prepped Porsche 911s and several muscle cars, David wanted something truly unique with this particular car. He purchased the ’70 Camaro in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, off of a friend who wanted to unload it back in December of 2015.
Once acquired, David had a vision for the car; he wanted to take the classic lines of the 1970 Camaro, and bring them into the modern world. In order to do that, everything outside the basic shell of the car would have to be replaced or modified — and we do mean everything. However, it was not without its setbacks.
The car would go through at least one subpar paint job at another shop before finally ending up at Smitty’s Customs in Tiffin, Ohio. The owner, Chris Smith, would have to take the Camaro down to bare metal and start all over. The entire build process from start to finish has taken over three years, and it wasn’t without multiple setbacks along the way.
It quickly had got to the point that David’s wife ultimately referred to the car as the “[expletive] Camaro,” hence its nickname, “FN Camaro.” It’s certainly humorous, but we have to concur that it adds to the car’s appeal.
So what took so long and what’s so special about this thing, besides the wheels, you ask? We’d be happy to tell you. Let’s take it from the top, literally.
The car was originally red, but that wasn’t going to do if David wanted to be different. Instead, he and Smitty’s agreed to spray the entire body, sans hood, with multiple coats of PPG Shark Gray. The factory hood and fenders were all ditched for carbon pieces from Carbon Kustoms. While the OEM rear spoiler remains in place, a D&Z Customs front spoiler and bumpers with integrated LED turn signals were bolted to the front.
Underneath, Ridetech front and rear Instinct electronic coil-over shocks keep the car firmly planted to the ground, while a Detroit Speed quadralink, subframe connectors, front sway bar, front upper and lower control arms, and steering box tie the suspension all in together.
“It drives on the street like a slightly rowdy sports car and amazingly agile on the autocross course.” — David Schardt
Bringing the car to a halt is a full set of Baer 6R six-piston brakes, with David’s own Forgeline GX3R Open Lug wheels at all four corners. They’re 18-inches in diameter, with the rears being an inch wider than the fronts at a full foot of Forgeline hitting the pavement. Between the custom wheels and the tarmac, BFGoodrich Rival S in 335/30/18 sit at each of the four posts.
At this point, you’re probably dying to know what’s under the hood; a small-block? Nope. A big-block? Negative. Oh, OK, a me-too LS swap? Close, but no cigar. What the FN Camaro has is one of the latest powerplants from General Motors; the supercharged LT4 from a C7 Z06 Corvette.
With 650hp on tap at the flywheel, most enthusiasts would be content, but not David. Some modest modifications like a Spectre cold-air induction kit, Ultimate 1-7/8 long-tube headers, low restriction exhaust system, a C&R intercooler for a denser intake charge and a Lingenfelter tune not only give the car a nice growl, but a few additional ponies. We estimate the new numbers are well north of 700hp.
Sitting behind the engine, is a Bowler-modified Tremec T-56 with six forward gears, housing a Centerforce DYAD clutch and flywheel. A Finch shifter and Bowler shift knob round out the transmission details, while sending power to the Moser rear with 3.89 gears.
“My wife called it the the F*$%ing Camaro throughout the build as we had many frustrating setbacks and the name stuck It eventually was changed to the FN Camaro for obvious reasons.” — David Schardt
Inside the cockpit, you’ll find a Ridetech Tiger cage, a Racepak dash, and leather seating upholstery on aftermarket racing buckets that keep the occupants firmly in place. A Vintage Air A/C system brings the climate control up to snuff, with the modern sound system from California Custom Sounds. It’s the perfect blend of functionality, style and a classic look all its own — without it looking out of place in a now 50-year old Camaro.
We first caught up with David and the FN Camaro at the 2019 Goodguys PPG Nationals, and then again at Holley LS Fest East just a few weeks later. In the next month, it will be making its rounds in the Middle East for a whole ‘nother demographic to behold. David’s had a few offers on the car already, but we
think hope, he’ll hang onto it for a while.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of AutoCentric Media, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.