When you walk around a Goodguys event that's loaded with cool Camaros, it takes a lot for one to truly stand out. Chris Zaccaro's Camaro successfully got our attention.
What really stood out was the use of paint, fabrication, design, and ingenuity rather than a bunch of bolt-on parts. Every part on the car was modified in some way to make it more functional or change its appearance to better suit the theme of the build. By taking a quick glance at Chris' Camaro you can see the influence of the Smokey Yunick Camaro and other Trans-Am race cars of the late-'60s era. Chris incorporated a flat hood, subtle '60s-era styling mixed with fabrication skills to modify and paint factory pieces, and a modest sprinkling of current hot rod parts to make an awesome statement. Sticking to his vision, Chris went the extra mile. He had originally built this car with an RS frontend but it just didn't exude vintage T-A, so he converted the car back to a standard frontend and nailed the look.
This awesome black Camaro looked pretty good on the outside when he was punk'd by his parents and received it on his 16th birthday. It was a perfect car to drive around while in high school. When Chris was 20 years old he was ready to repaint the Camaro and raise it to a whole new level. He peeled back the first layer of this onion and found how badly his baby had been neglected and patched up with body filler by previous owners. He soon found so much rust that major surgery was the only option if he wanted the car straight enough for a really nice black paintjob. Chris got a lot of sheetmetal experience during the process while replacing the roof and most of the other panels. He also honed his welding and fabrication skills, which can be seen by checking out his shaved and narrowed rear bumper and on many other parts of his cool car. The front bumper was ditched to make room for the racing look. Chris also gave the grille some attention with gold and black paint as well as custom screens to fill the lower valance openings.
If you look closely at all the hardware you'll notice how he gave each one extra attention by modifying every bolt head. This is one of many attention to detail tips that came from his previous boss Kurt Pedracci and it goes a long way in making this car stand out in the crowd. Chris gave this level of attention to every part of the build.
After eight years of building cars with his former boss and close friend Kurt Pedracci at Hot Rod Machine in El Sobrante, California, Chris has gone on to open his own shop named Zaccaro Hot Rods in Pleasant Hill, California. We think he hit the nail on the head with his first Camaro and we hope to see more standout work from him in the future.
Underhood, Chris started off the foundation of his 383 stroker with a Corvette 350ci engine block that a friend's dad found in the garbage. He built it up with a set of RHS 200cc aluminum heads, Scat rotating assembly, COMP Cams solid-roller cam, ARP bolts, Moroso 7-quart pan, Melling pump, and more. The air/fuel is delivered via Weiand's Stealth Air Strike intake and a Holley 750 model 4779 carb. More of Chris' bare-bones styling is carried over by the use of stock steel valve covers. He spent a bunch of time straightening them out, then dressed them up with a couple of painted-on Grand Sport stripes. He bought a used A-body air cleaner and lid from a wrecking yard, fabricated the duct out of sheetmetal, and used an old steel fender off his old bicycle for the rounded transition. If you look closely at the air cleaner wing nut, Chris machined it to mimic the shape of the air cleaner body and lid.
The interior has many stock components to keep things simple. The rubber Chevy floor mats add a no-nonsense old-school flavor while the Arizen Racing seats and rollbar let you know this Camaro means business. For monitoring the 383, Chris added a full array of Stewart-Warner gauges in the dash and a custom upholstered A-pillar mount for his digital tach/shift light. He selected a Pro-5.0 shifter to row through all six speeds of the Centerforce-clutched T56, and he topped it off with his own custom lightweight shift knob. He chose a classic-looking Grant steering wheel and finished the look with a factory “wood wheel” horn button.
Chris narrowed his 8.5-inch 10-bolt rearend using a Chris Alston's Chassisworks kit. To cradle the 4.11:1 gears spinning on an Eaton TrueTrac, he picked up a Summit differential cover and milled the old-school Mickey Thompson M/T initials into it for effect.
The theme of using as many factory parts as possible carried over to the suspension. Chris kept his original subframe, lower control arms, and spindles. To help compensate for the less-than-desirable factory camber gain, he installed a set of SPC upper control arms, Hotchkis 2-inch drop springs and Bilsteins control the ride. In the back, Chris built his own mini-tubs the old-fashioned way. He used what he had and split the factory inner wheelwells and added sections of sheetmetal to widen them for the 315s. To make room for the big meats, he moved the Hotchkis leaf springs inboard with a set of Speed Tech offset shackles. This left Chris with two options: either purchase a narrowed aftermarket fuel tank or modify an original unit. Carrying on the theme of using parts that most toss aside, he used his fabrication skills to notch an inexpensive factory tank.
Rollers & Binder
To scrub off speed he installed a set of Kore3 Grand Sport brakes, which hide behind 17x8 and 17x11 Vintage Wheel Works V45s wrapped with 245/45 and 315/35 Nittos. The wheels have gold centers with brushed lips for a subtle and perfect look, which is all tied up with long race-style lug nuts, spun front dust caps, and the absence of wheel center caps.
Chris won the Coolest '60s award at the first Goodguys event he took the car after he finished it in 2009. After seeing this car in person, it was well deserved. Chris wanted to give special thanks to a few of the people who contributed to the build: Kurt Pedracci, Frank and Anna Zaccaro (who allowed him to take over their garage during the build), Steve Pardini of Steve's Camaros, and many others.