Year after year we bring you features pertinent to the Chevy High Performance theme: If the car can't make it somewhere on its own recognizance, you can't have any fun with it. Build it, get dirty. Drive it, get dirtier. Share it, get divine.
The majority of these rides are owner-built, which means time (lots of it) and money (sometimes lots of that too). The shadowy thing nobody talks about is how all this effects the women in our lives. Peggy Unruh is enlightened. Is it her? Is it strictly out of habit? Is it because she knows that given the chance, most men will seek solace from the everyday grind and angst and visit that child in their heart? Or is it something else?
In 1999, after having quit hot-rod building for several years, Bill Unruh's wife came to him with newspaper classifieds in hand and said, "Look, a 1968 Z/28 for $4,500. We should go see at it." They gave $3,500 and took it home. Mused Bill, "I wonder how many guys have a wife who finds them a toy, then says 'It's your money, do what you want with it. Have fun and be careful.' I love her!"
Bill's been doing this sort of thing since the early '70s. He cut his chops on a '68 Camaro, a '65 Nova with a 454 in it, a couple of 911s and a 928, and a Jag XJ6 (sedan) with an LS6 454 engine from his boat. This is the second go-around with his present dancer, doubtless the quickest and the fastest car in his history. At 52 and quite unable to escape the old-days mindset, Bill "This Is Probably My Midlife Crisis" Unruh chose 16 psi of positive manifold pressure, jacketed if need be by a 100-shot of happy juice to make things happen in a nine-second hurry. That's the plan, anyway. On the motor it hasn't dropped a nine...yet, but bigger tires should solve that.
Most codgers would like to lean back and savor the convenience of an automatic, but not our boy Bill, and that's what endears him to us. Bill likes to lean forward. He took his midlife craziness seriously and got a G-Force five-speed, a no-nonsense race box that most people wouldn't abide in a street car. Hardened internals, a torque-dampening torsion bar, and straight-cut gears distinguish it from the ordinary. That and the price. For the cost of the G-Force, Bill could have two T56 six-speeds. If you've ever heard the '55 in Two Lane Blacktop you know the racket that the gears in an M22 make. How far could you go like that before you'd be driven to the point of a railroad spike? Bill doesn't think about that. He proudly wears this inconvenience like a badge.
Forget about Bill's Camaro being a sleepypotomus. Even those with less -than-passable eyesight could see it's a merciless thing with questionable motives, a street thug. Best clue is that mega intercooler, a three-core, air-to-air race assembly that stretches half the width of the car. At full boost, the temperature of the charge air ranges from 110 to 155 degrees, depending on ambient.
Those of you twitching right now because you're thinking Bill has wantonly defiled the Holy Grail, please relax. "The car was very rough but it was almost rust-free. The original 302 had been replaced with a warmed-up 355 (too bad), but it still had its M21 and 12-bolt. Both were in need of work, were very loud and leaking. Actually the transmission had stopped leaking--it was out of 90W." When you get a guy like Bill on the case, anything's liable to happen.