Car Feature: GAP Racing’s Carma Camaro

Video/Images: Sam McConnell

This ’67 Camaro Raises the Bar!

GAP Racing out of Houston, Texas builds cars that are no strangers to winning awards. When they got the call from Royal Purple that they needed a custom car to unveil at their SEMA booth, he knew of just the car. They had been working on a 1967 Camaro that the owner wanted completely modernized, and it came out better than anyone could have anticipated.

Tim Palazzolo of GAP Racing was alongside the 1967 Camaro known as the Carma Camaro at the 2017 SEMA show in Las Vegas where the car was unveiled in the Royal Purple booth. We got a chance to checkout the Camaro, and it’s not at all what you would expect to see from a 1967 Camaro. Really, it’s not at all what you expect it to be when you walk up on it, it’s so much more than meets the eye.

Carma is a build that was essentially modeled after a modern day ZL1 Chevy Camaro. The team spent a lot of planning and time creating an overlap of the two amazing Camaros; they kept the classic style of the 1967 Camaro, and added all the modern conveniences of a 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1, so it’s the best of all worlds on this one.

As you would expect, it wouldn’t be inspired by a modern ZL1 Camaro without being powered by a Chevrolet Performance LT4 crate engine. The engine was really the start of the move to take on other ZL1 elements, but almost didn’t happen. Originally, the car’s owner wanted them to rebuild the big block, but once presented with the LT4 create engine option, it was an easy decision for him from there. Backing the powerful Gen V engine is a Bowlers Performance Transmission, and the car sits on a Roadster Shop complete bolting SPEC chassis.

“We backed the LT4 up with a Bowler Tremec transmission. They supplied everything from the twin disc clutch to the bell housing. For the rear end, it will have a 9” housing that was supplied by Roadster Shop.” -Tim Palazzolo

It gets its stopping power from a set of big Baer brakes that have the 67 ZL1 logo on the calipers for the car. The car rolls on HRE wheels that are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

Alumacraft designed a custom grille for GAP Racing’s Camaro. This unique piece has been CNC machined into the same style as the new Camaro, getting rid of the rectangular shape of the first generation Camaro grille. The hood was made by cutting off the original skin of the Camaro’s hood off and welding it to a flat piece to smooth it out and hide all of the bracing, without losing the original look. This is one of the many ways the guys modernized the car and gave it a clean look, without going too crazy with it, while also keeping a major part of the original car.

A lot of carbon fiber elements were used throughout, with a carbon fiber inserts in the firewall, wheel wells, carbon fiber coil covers, and throughout the engine bay of the car to give it a modern feel when you pop the hood. The trim around the windshield is welded in, and they installed flush mounted glass, tucked the bumpers in real tight, added late model style side view mirrors that are auto folding and have turn signals in them.

All of the electronics, switches, controls, and so on are controlled with a product called RideController through an iPad. The one off billet steering wheel mimics the modern Camaro steering wheels, without replicating it exactly; the steering wheel is basically the shape of a new Camaro with the flair and styling of a 1967 Camaro wheel. The shape of the gauge cluster was made drawing inspiration from the new Camaro, but it fits in the factory location, and can accept factory gauges bolted into it. However, Dakota Digital came through for the team with a set of HDX gauges that use a new Camaro console, and those gauges communicate with each other, giving the read out for essential driving information.

Cato’s Custom Upholstery shop used the rendering provided by Tim, and totally knocked the interior out of the park. They decided to use Recaro seats and covered everything in leather and added white striping to give it that deluxe interior feel. To make sure the door panels resemble a new Camaro, they used bits and pieces of a new Camaro door panel. Air conditioning has been installed as one of the many added creature comforts needed to bring this car up to modern days.

Since the convertible top boots are so different between a first-generation to the a modern Camaro, something had to be done to get rid of the bulky boot for a sleeker, more low profile one. The rear cover had to be made custom for the Carma Camaro, with a lot of man-hours invested into the final product. A lot of the other elements have been coated to give it more of a sealed look without having to change or rethink the car itself.

The real spoiler is a replication of the original factory spoiler, but it’s made out of metal to fit the car better. They wanted the entire thing to be seamless, and that wasn’t possible using the spoiler that came from GM for the 1967 Chevy Camaro. Taillights were made custom for the car to resemble the 2014 Camaro lights, and the Camaro lettering on the back of the car is recessed to keep with the clean theme of it all. The rear bumper has a recess for the ZL1 style tailpipe tip, and has a tucked license plate holder.

“Mr. Snell (the owner) calls it Carma (karma) because of all the trouble he went through to finally get another ‘67 convertible. He was out of town on business and found this car. His wife was so excited about it. The entire family has been involved with the build. He just feels like getting the car done to this level at this time is all because of karma.”-Tim Palazzolo

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Elizabeth Puckett

Elizabeth is hardcore horsepower enthusiast with unmatched intensity for making things faster and louder. She wakes up for power and performance and only sleeps to charge up for the next project that’s heading to the track. From autocross to drag racing, Elizabeth is there with you, so stay tuned for her unique perspective on horsepower news, builds, tech info, and installs — with her, it’ll never be boring!

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