There is a common thread that appears in the interviews we’ve conducted over the years. Enthusiasts tell us the most fun they get from their automotive hobby happens when they’re finally able to build their dream vehicle. Whether it’s a hot rod, custom, or restored antique, the ultimate car is the one that’s perfectly tailored to their lifestyle and the way they enjoy the sport. Driving their creation for the first time becomes one of life’s most treasured memories. Jack Bines lives in Largo, Florida, and works in the family medical business. He has been an avid enthusiast most of his life, with a warm spot for the classic first-gen Camaro. His notion of a dream car became even more sophisticated when he attended the Turkey Run in Daytona and heard GM’s awesome 572 crate engine run for the first time. It only took a moment for the big-inch V-8 to become part of the dream.
Although he had been casually looking for a Camaro for about five years, that audible encounter with the new crate motor spurred the decision to transform dreams into reality. Jack began a concerted search for a project car and you can imagine his excitement when he not only found a fairly complete ’67 Camaro, but also discovered that it already had the new 572 underhood! The car was built by a man in Naples, Florida, but the powertrain proved to be a little too strong for him and he put it on the market. Jack snapped it up, thrilled to finally have the perfect combination in his garage.
Of course, all enthusiasts know that personalizing is part of the process, and it didn’t take long before Jack began making changes. The goal was a custom Camaro with a Pro Touring look that he could drive on a regular basis. Dave and Andrew Stevens at NBS Performance in Pinellas Park rose to the challenge, ready to complete his list of upgrades.
NBS began the project by installing new bushings and subframe connectors, then rejuvenated the frontend with KYB shocks and Hotchkis springs. Landrum Performance rear springs were combined with 24-inch Southside Machine traction bars to minimize rear wheelhop. The springs also helped the profile, lowering the frontend 2 inches and the rear 11/2 inches. The finishing suspension mod was an AGR quick-ratio steering box for precise handling while retaining road feel.
Four-wheel Wilwood disc brakes with stainless steel lines guarantee stopping power to match the high-performance engine, and the elegant Wilwood master cylinder is a jewel-like addition to the engine compartment. Boyd Coddington Timeless 5 rims, 18x9 up front and 18x10 in the rear, are wrapped with 40-series Falken rubber.
Moving inside, the car’s original ’67 interior was still in surprisingly good shape, but it was rejuvenation time! Wanting an entirely new look, Jack turned to his good friend Mark Kraus, from Inner Werks in St. Petersburg. Kraus began the makeover by installing Honda Accord buckets, recontoured and with the headrests removed. He created a template from the front seat in order to build the matching rear seats from fiberglass. Once the rear shells were complete, he upholstered all four seats with Dove Gray Ultra Leather and Ultra Suede. Gray suede headliner and gray wool carpeting continued the theme. Kraus designed a fiberglass center console that runs from the dash to the rear package tray, imitating the profile of the seats. The center armrest is functional, opening for storage up front and providing cupholders in the rear. Door panels and rear quarters were also custom-built from fiberglass and blend perfectly with the rest of the interior. Providing precise tactile connections for the owner, a new Lecarra wheel and tilt column went in along with the B&M Pistol Grip shifter that controls the rebuilt Turbo 400 three-speed automatic. Dakota Digital instruments upgrade the original Camaro pods. But that’s not the end of the story.
Kraus is also an expert stereo technician. The almost hidden system begins with the Panasonic CQ-VD7500U CD/DVD player and retractable 7-inch touch screen. Signal from the head unit is amplified by the pair of amplifiers hidden in the trunk. Front stage sound comes from a collection of Boston Acoustic speakers beginning with the 6.5-inch coaxial speakers in the new door panels and the pair of 1-inch dome tweeters in the dash. The two 6x9 rear fill speakers in the package tray were positioned on either side of the vent for the 10-inch sub in the trunk. Stinger wiring keeps everything properly connected and Dynamat sound insulation throughout the cab minimizes unwanted sonic intrusion.
If you open the trunk, nothing is visible except the elegantly designed fiberglass tub. Remove the tub and the stereo components and batteries are revealed. Neatly arranged are the 400-watt four-channel Alpine amp for the mids and highs, the 400-watt two-channel (bridged to mono) JBL amp for the single 10-inch sub in a bandpass enclosure, and the brain box for live TV, PS2, and GPS. Twin Optima batteries with a built-in trickle charger provide plenty of power. Clean and simple, the custom-designed fiberglass tub provides storage while keeping all the electronics out of sight.
The 572 was loaded with power but needed some work to make it a working part of the dream. Chris Nelson in Pinellas Park, Florida, went through the motor, top to bottom. The big-inch GM crate motor uses a forged crank, I-beam forged steel rods, GM 9.6:1 aluminum pistons, GM ported and polished aluminum heads, and GM cam with hydraulic lifters. A Barry Grant Speed Demon 830-cfm carb and high-capacity Aeromotive fuel pump with return system is the automotive equivalent of a Big Gulp. MSD HEI ignition lights the fire with waste gases flowing into wrapped 21/8-inch headers, especially designed for the tight confines of the Camaro engine room. Your ears get a treat, thanks to the 3-inch aluminized exhaust and Flowmaster mufflers that orchestrate the perfect muscle car sound. The rejuvenated 572 sends 620 tire-frying horsepower and 650 lb-ft to the rebuilt three-speed Turbo 400 automatic transmission, then on to the 4:10 spooled rear and 35-spline Strange axles. The firewall and inner fender panels were smoothed in order to showcase the detailed 572 crate motor.
Once the mechanicals were solid, Jack turned his attention to cosmetics. The bright yellow car was in good shape but some subtle chrome removal was first on the list, allowing the classic lines of the first-gen Camaro to show through. Body mods include a conservative lowering job, cowl-induction hood, and rear spoiler. All the metal trim on the car was polished, the rear quarter window frames were re-chromed, and all window and door seals were replaced. Fresh new bumpers were bolted on along with Digi-Tails sequential LED taillights from Spaghetti Engineering. Marquez Design made the billet aluminum taillight frames, and the motorcycle gas cap is a Matt Hoch design. Jack wanted something other than the traditional single shade with rally stripes, common to the early SS cars. His wife, Pamela, came up with the perfect color scheme: two-tone with Silver Star on top and Tungsten Gray on the bottom. Mark Mahowski from Straight Line in St. Petersburg accomplished the paint and bodywork. Fair warning: If you pull up alongside, that subtle 572 emblem on the front fender should be taken seriously!
Personalizing the car took about a year, but Jack says the results were worth it, especially whenever he hits the loud pedal and the Camaro leaps forward. Future plans include a 3.55:1 rearend with Positraction for easier highway cruising and air conditioning for Florida’s warm summers. CHP