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.
Motor & Drivetrain
Though normally associated with BMW products, Dinan Engineering proves that an internal combustion engine after all, is just that, regardless of pedigree. Dusty Renteria did the honors with a Scat forged crankshaft and Scat connecting rods pinned to Mahle forgings (10.3:1 compression ratio) and accompanied by Mahle ring packs. The pocket computer tells us that a 4.155-inch bore and 3.80-inch stroke yield 423 cubic inches. How's that for a stick in the eye, chumps? For that second poke in the other eye, how about a raspy solid flat-tappet to tickle the valves? The Comp cam is a 4/7 firing order swap item but all other info is proprietary. Dusty wrapped up the bottom end with a Moroso 6-quart sump attended by a Moroso oil pump and pickup. On the top tier, he used AFR 210 Competition Package cylinder heads featuring a 23-degree valve angle, 2.08/1.60-inch valves, 65cc combustion chambers, and 210cc intake ports. Valvesprings, retainers, and locks are included. He sourced the pushrods and 1.6:1 rockers from Comp and went to an Edelbrock Super Victor (CNC-prepped plenum chamber, port exits, divider walls, and runner roofs) single-plane manifold spritzed by an 850-cfm Demon. An MSD setup throws fireballs at 39 degrees BTDC and the trash resultant is sucked out by Lemons 17/8-inch primaries and on through a stainless steel exhaust system with 3-inch diameter pipes. Dusty used ARP fasteners throughout the assembly, securing the Performance Rod & Custom radiator and the Vintage Air Front Runner accessory drive. Output at the ground is 519 hp at 6,900 rpm and 494 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. A nice, stout atmospheric engine with a superlative torque curve, just like in the old days. The produce is transferred by a Centerforce DFX single-disc clutch assembly to a Tremec TKO 600 equipped with a 0.62:1 top gear. The rear universal joint on the custom driveshaft connects to a 3.89:1 ring-and-pinion riding a Tru-Trac limited-slip differential in a narrowed 9-inch housing.
Body & Paint
A short story but many hours long. Rich Bermea at Road Touring Customs affixed the shell with all-new sheetmetal, a trick Marquez Design front bumper, front valance panel, and trunk spoiler. He welded all the seams and smoothed them out and relieved the front and rear fenders of their side markers. Bermea did the body prep, rubbed the car, and shot the mile-deep PPG Black.
Similar to an in-house Detroit Speed project; Bermea accumulated mini-tubs, rollbar, subframe connectors, a subframe complete with tubular control arms, 550 lb/in front springs, coilover shock absorbers, and a companion splined anti-sway bar. Power-assisted rack steering and C6 Corvette steering knuckles are included in this package. The rear station got 250 lb/in coils and Koni adjustables. Bermea situated the 9-inch axle with a QUADRALink four-bar suspension and finished it off with the corresponding anti-sway bar.
Wheels And Brakes
When you got 14-inch rotors and red six-piston calipers at every corner, you want to showcase them with the appropriate hoops. Baer 6S systems are obscured slightly by airy three-piece Fikse Profil 5S forgings (18x10, 18x12) equipped with BFG g-Force T/A KDW 2 rubber, size 275/35 and 335/30.
Since you can't see yourself rolling down the highway, you go for the next best option: a sectioned interior with the best materials and accoutrements available. Bermea laid in the American Autowire harness along with the DSE dash insert stocked with Auto Meter Ultra Lite II gauges and the Vintage Air HVAC system. Then he set the stage for the drama of black. Custom Classics in San Martin, California, put those cool Cobra seats in German leather in harmony with the Marquez Design door panels and the rear passenger perch. Mercedes-Benz carpeting flows throughout. Eric grips the MOMO wheel and flicks the Hurst shifter, all the while anticipating the smooth rumble of the 3,600-watt Alpine deck, Xponent amps, and MB Quart speakers. And all that, friends, was what really happened up in Gilroy.