"When I was a young man, just 17, I had a friend who built his race cars with parts that some else had already used. Therefore, the exclusive price was always right ... and so was the performance." While others were spending thousands to make their dreams smoke off the line, he held on to his hard-earned hundreds like grim death and haggled shrewd as much as possible. That's the way he did it. Doug Renner adheres to the very same notion. Here's his sound rationale.
"I'm building this car because the Pro Touring style had started to really grow on me. Your magazine and my two favorite sites (Pro-Touring.com and Lateralg.org) made it easy to get addicted. To be able to drive the car anywhere and at anytime was really appealing. That it would handle on par with a new Vette and have air conditioning to go with it was way cool. So I started looking for a black '69 Camaro with white or silver stripes.
"I found my current car on eBay and began the ongoing slow transformation process. I own another '69 Camaro that is a heads-up drag radial car and knew that unless I had a plan for this buildup, it would end up being stripped down to a shell and become a major project. The emphasis I put on this was one upgrade at a time, refine it, and then move on-all the while keeping the car driveable and not torn apart for months at a time."
He adhered to his original outline, pointing his hands-on energy to the front suspension, seats and console, tires and rims, rear suspension, front brakes, etc. The car was already holding a wimpy 406ci small-block backed by a Turbo 350 and peg-leg 8.5-inch 10-bolt axle. It was a good place to begin, thought Renner, all the while tuning his antenna for the deals of the decade. How're these? Sparco Chrono Roads seats, $1,000 for the pair; new Rushforth wheels and Nitto stickies; fourth-gen Camaro console (with cup holders) for $50; new Alston G-Bar suspension for another grand; a new, never-run 406 with forged innards and AFR heads for $3,200; big Baer front brakes at the right price "because I knew somebody."
But all of the construction issues weren't so sanitary in Doug's workshop. "I had the movie Apollo 13 on and it was at the part where the guys are stranded in deep space, dealing with a busted-up ship that, in order to stay alive, they would have to fit square breathing filter canisters into round holes. I immediately realized, as I stood there beaten up and tired out, that the name Apollo 13 was right for this car. Seems like that's all I do, constantly trying to get the 'bolt-on' square part into the round hole." Thus far, the name has been appropriate.
Doug's been able to stick to his plan of making one mod at a time and has kept the car on the road. He recently attended his first real driving event, (Run through the Hills West Coast), and found the Camaro far more capable than its driver. Many of his drag racing buddies have asked if he prefers Pro Touring to heads-up drag racing. "Certainly there are pros and cons with both, but I do really like the seat time you get in this car and the fact that you can roll up the windows on the drive home and turn on the A/C. The PT community is a great bunch of people, and I am happy to call many of them friends now. I doubt very much that I will ever step away from this movement. It is more fun and addicting than should be allowed."