Since 1966 he's logged well over 100,000 miles a year, day in and day out. His current ride is a Freightliner tractor with a Select Plus N-14 Cummings diesel engine that on command can generate 1,850 lb-ft of torque to pull the 80,000-pound semi through 10 Rockwell forward gears. After a weeklong tour of piloting from Southern California to Spokane, Washington, and back, most long-haul transport drivers want to do anything but drive more. But at just 62, Larry Castro comes home and looks forward to getting additional seat time.
His reasoning? One ripe Hugger Orange '73 RS Z28 Camaro. Although small compared with his truck, it's very big on power, and that translates into lots of acceleration. Larry chose a second-gen Camaro with the Rally Sport (RS) package because it marks the last year that the second-generation F-body ('70-73) wore the special RS front-end treatment. This package is comprised of an RS grille, two chrome bumperettes, and a rubber center bar.
The three-year project began as many do, a work-in-progress renovation. But after several upgrades and an attempt at one engine build without enough steam, Larry's wife Joy asked, "Is there an end to this?" That's when he recognized that in order to do the project justice, he'd have to do all of it at once. Without flinching, he pulled the motor, removed the interior, stripped the paint to bare metal, and selected a crew of guys who were well versed in producing eye-fetching Camaros.
Notably, there were a few prerequisites. First off, it required a show-car demeanor, nothing with lots of excuses for lackluster results or big plans that would never materialize. Secondly, it had to have enough grunt to scare most people silly, especially since, as any veteran transport driver will tell you, there is nothing worse than a slow vehicle. Finally, when completed it would have to be a driver, forgoing any of that trailer-baby nonsense.
That three-fold mission has been accomplished. The stunning Hugger Orange paint, black leather interior, Vortech-supercharged small-block, and Tremec five-speed gearbox more than quenches Larry's thirst for shining appearance, mechanical motion, and experiencing the road. Yes, the three-year build now pays big dividends in grins and is packed full of power, and we can see why. Just spend a few moments with Larry and he'll show you the way to his musclecar philosophy. It's well worth the drive.
The factory-issue Z28 five-spokes are timeless and were outfitted with Goodyear GT rubber, measuring 225/60R15 at the bow and 255/60R15 at the stern. Stopping power comes via standard-issue front disc/rear drum arrangements. The SSBC calipers and Master Power rotors were added up front for improved stopping.
Handling chores under the Camaro are assigned to a set of tubular front control arms, Edelbrock shocks, a special 14:1 steering gear, and a 111/44-inch front bar. For better bite under acceleration, a set of Competition Engineering traction bars has been added.
Aesthetically, Tony's Auto Restoration in Corona, California, fogged six coats of Hugger Orange and topped it off with two bright white stripes over the mirror-straight body. They even custom-fabricated the hood for added clearance, giving the supercharger ample room.
Tony's Auto Restoration assembled a custom ABS composite instrument cluster that hosts a complete set of Auto Meter gauges monitoring engine temperature, fuel level, voltage, oil pressure, vehicle speed, and engine rpm. The Summit high-back buckets are wrapped in black leather and provide improved seating over the factory pieces. The steering wheel is a Grant item custom-fitted with a Camaro horn button.
Larry wanted a truckload of power on tap, so he enlisted the help of Jerry Stettler of Ace Machine in Riverside, California, to assemble a potent 360ci small-block. Inside is a standard 350-stroke (3.48-inch) with a 4.060-inch bore.
Up top, the mighty bullet incorporates a pair of AFR 210cc cylinder heads, including a Comp Cams 'stick sporting 0.510/0.520 inch lift, 230/236 degrees duration measured at 0.050, an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, a Speed Demon 750-cfm carburetor, and 9:1 SRP slugs.
For added power the engine is force-fed huge amounts of atmosphere through a Vortech centrifugal supercharger unit. Shifting errands are assigned to a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed close-ratio with ratios spaced at 2.87-, 1.89-, 1.28-, 1.00-, and 0.64:1.
The original 8.5-inch 10-bolt secures a cog yielding a 3.73:1 quotient assembled by Jim Cook Performance of Ontario, California. Scott Brown from Van Gordon and Brown Performance in Claremont, California, installed a special cold air-intake box, a Griffin radiator, an Edelbrock high-volume water pump, an MSD 160-amp alternator, a Tilton high-torque starter, and dual Spal cooling fans.