Anyone who loves the power of garlic probably knows about the annual love festival held during the last weekend in July in Gilroy, California, the unofficial garlic capitol of the United States. But as you will discover, there's more happening in Gilroy than garlic soup. Eric David, the owner of this Camaro lives in Morgan Hill, a community situated halfway between San Jose and Salinas on the vaunted 101. With big figures being the median earning in Morgan Hill, there's plenty of disposable income for crazy stuff like hot rods and the industry that supports it, despite the current economic foibles. Living in such a car-aware place, Eric was able to source every service or phase of reconstruction from the metropolitan area.
He's young enough that his high-school days and the beginning of his adult life still stand tall in the background. For the duration of those years, he had a '69 Camaro, his pal, his shelter, perhaps even his alter-ego. He loved that car. He didn't, however, have the financial clout to make it over in his own image and with a wife and three kids he didn't until he entered "middle age."
"My dream was to eventually own and enjoy another one," Eric confessed. "But not until I had the cash in hand. I bought this car as a very clean California-born SS clone and handed it over to Rich Bermea of Road Touring Customs in Garlic City." The '69 poses as a triple-threat machine, working the crowd at the March 2010 Goodguys in Pleasanton and retiring from the show with the Award of Excellence. As a road-race inspired entity, Black Speed could be found at any Monterey Bay Trans-Am Racing Association event, alone and naked without a car hauler, driving there and home with the A/C blowing mightily.
That hefty "pleasure tax" has a lot to do with the parts sourced for the project. The only original pieces are the body shell, some chrome bits, and the dash cover. Everything else was new, and you know that Bermea didn't overlook a single nook or cranny: the car was stripped, soda blasted, and metal-worked.
One of Eric's rides is an '03 BMW M3, so he was already aware of the prodigious capabilities of Morgan Hill's Dinan Engineering. The company history has been steeped in turbocharged BMWs for more than 30 years. But for this mission, Dinan engine builder Dusty Renteria wouldn't be operating on one of them. His mission was to make a terrifying (to the chumps in the opposite lane) high-revving, big-inch small-block wielding nearly 520 hp at the tire. In hopes that the chassis and suspension could process that amount with as much friction as possible, these assemblies were lifted straight out of the Detroit Speed wish list.
Such modifications have become formulaic: you gird the front of the car appropriately and attach the largest tires that will fit the turning radius. Same goes for the back end. Wheeltubs are mandatory to fit rubber that is more than twice the width you'd find on the average family clunker. The Detroit Speed rear suspension solution comes in two flavors: modified leaf spring or sophisticated four-link. Eric wholly embraced the latter design.
Two years after he'd consigned the project to Road Touring Customs, he drove away in the car of his dreams and life is good in Morgan Hill. Surely coming out of garlic-infused atmosphere in Gilroy, the engine's lifeblood is robust and its breath is sweet (to garlic lovers). How about some lusty virgin olive oil and a crusty baguette to go with that kind of lubrication? Yeah, alright, some zucchini, too.