There is building cars and then there is ‘building’ cars. Greg Hogan ‘builds’ cars. He took his love for fabrication, high level engineering, technology and first gen Camaros and created what is ultimately, the best Pro-Touring styled car in Australia. “The dream was to build a world class car – nothing else would do. I didn’t want to limit the car to a budget but rather build the car to the standard that I desired, and I wanted the best, nothing else would do.” said Greg.
Easy to say, hard to do, but when you are building the car yourself; fabricating the custom parts with your own hands and you are following a set plan, then the dream can become a little easier to attain but it still requires passion, dedication and most of all, patience. Fortunately, through life experience, Greg has developed all of those well earnt traits.
“I remember it was after watching Eric Bana in ‘Love the Beast’ that I turned to my wife April and said ‘That is what I want to build. A car that I can really drive, a car that can hit any type of circuit and a car that looks fast even when standing still’ I had seen the light” Greg laughed. You see, he already had the Camaro. It was purchased as gift for April but when it arrived in Perth, it was too loud, it was too rough and it didn’t fit the bill for her. He decided that plan B was to slam a Procharged 540 big block into the yellow bus and go drag racing but that soon came to a screeching halt after Greg came to the realisation that there wasn’t much you could do on the street with a drag car, so the car just sat there until that Pro-Touring bug got under his skin.
Being the owner of Stripped Bare – an operation specializing in diamond blasting it was obvious that the car was going to start as a bare base, but just how bare was unknown. “Well, the eBay purchase proved to be junk. I literally took the plasma cutter to the body and all I was left with was the inner structure” So, starting with nothing, Greg had quite the project on his hands.
“I knew exactly what I wanted though and how to achieve it. After my researching I started to look at the way Mark Stielow approached his stuff. Mark is basically the godfather of Pro-Touring. He wrote the book on it – like, he literally wrote a book on it” Greg Laughed, he continued “I also liked the stuff that the Roadster Shop was doing and of course the Ring Brothers have been impressing people for years now. The way I saw it, is that I liked some of the ‘flash’ visual stuff from the Ring Bros but I liked the functional concepts that Mark and the guys at the Roadster shop were renowned for. I wanted to combine the two and meet somewhere in the middle, so I had a rendering done and put that on the workshop wall. That was to be the new plan and I was avid that I was going to stick to it”
With the new direction set, Greg got to work on actually making the body look like a body. “I bought a bundle of aluminium panels from the US and what a mistake it was – they needed so much work to look and sit right it wasn’t funny. I had put the floors in the car and had been fabricating parts when I realised I just didn’t have the time for it so I sent the car to Rowe & Sons to complete that part of the project”
Whilst the team there labored away, Greg set about looking over colour selections. “Knowing that the car was going to be driven and driven hard I expect some damage here and there. Painting the car a solid colour was the most sensible option by far. Red was on top of the list so that is where I started” Having already selected the Grigio Silverstone (a Ferrari colour) for the accents and ‘hockey’ stripes, Greg sprayed out 8 separate colour choices to make sure it looked right. “Some colours look great in the sun and then terrible in the shade, other funky colours can look terrible on the flip so I had to be wise about the choice. I feel like anything else but the Chevy Victory Red just wouldn’t have given the car as much impact. It hits you right off the bat” Greg explained.
If he wasn’t able to work directly on the panel work Greg still wanted to be heavily involved in the overall aesthetics of the car. “I made the mould for the front splitter myself out of MDF and foam and then had Glen Taylor from Nelg’s Ali Mods create the item in aluminium before it was wrapped in carbon fibre. Greg paid particular attention to the bumpers and their fitment. “As much as I love ‘69s there are some things that irk me and I needed to rectify them. We sectioned the bumpers on both the front and the rear. The front was cut into 10 pieces and the back one into 8 and then we welded them back into one piece. The rear bumper was also frenched into the body for a smoother look. I even reworked the awkward looking boot scoop into a thinner, more streamlined version. It was little things like that which make my car a little more unique than the rest”
Second gen mirrors were fitted to the doors and a myriad of billet products from Fesler now adorn the arrow straight body. The trick bonnet pins are from Ring Brothers. The reworked, aluminium bumpers were brush finished and then coated with a matte clear. “I made calculated choices with paint colours and finishes on the car – some people will like it, some wont. For example, I used the Grigio Silver as a metallic on the body and the wheels to pop and then a matte in the bay as I wanted it to look industrial and refined in there. It was choices like that which create the style of the car. I feel that paint and panel fitment lets down the majority of cars kicking around these days and I made damn sure that mine wasn’t going to be one of those in the herd”
Now looking good was only part of the deal, the car had to go hard too. “Power is one thing but it is useless if you can put it down, handle it or stop it. The Camaro needed to tick all the boxes to be my ultimate car.” With circuit racing being a priority, the engine had to pack torque in the right areas and spin high enough to scare the bejesus out of Greg.
“I was given the hot tip to get in contact with Dave Crume in the US. He builds NASCAR motors so he knows a thing or two about serious N/A engines” Greg did just that. The 440-cube RHS block was fitted with a Manley Ultra Lite crankshaft wearing matching rods and ceramic coated Wiseco pistons. Black Label Mast Motorsport heads and a custom grind Crane cam play their part in the valve train assembly. It was over at SEMA when I found the manifold and plenum set up – it was like a saving grace as I hate the look of LS-motors. My OZMO Engineering manifold is a one-off item. The carbon fibre used on mine is of the exact same specification as Redbulls gear and once they found that out, the manufacturer had to find another product.”
The 90mm throttle bodies receive doses of 98-octane via a CTSV pump. It was Greg that fabricated the custom headers and the full, stainless steel 3-inch exhaust system. A Holley Dominator ECU makes the small block Chevy sing and sing sweet – the tune, well 700hp sounds pretty damn good to me! One look in the engine bay and you can just tell this isn’t your run of the mill, late model donk in an old car deal. “I wanted the engine compartment to look industrial. Full of function and with simple, refined touches that were inspired from many sources. There is over $12,000 in just Kevlar/PTFE hose and fittings in there, the rest of the gear is either hand-fabricated or the best, off the shelf components I could get. It is the exact picture that I had in my head”
Considering that the car was built to be driven, it was a given that Greg would go for a manual box. His choice was a 6-speed T-56 and of course, Greg couldn’t just have a standard one. The box is known as the Tranzilla and was built by Rockland in the US. “By the time they finished modifying the box, it could handle 1,200hp. The thing is damn near bulletproof” A carbon fibre tailshaft distributes the power to a sheet metal, Moser 9-inch full floater rear. “The car is actually mounted to a full Art Morrison chassis which is about 2-inches narrower than the original chassis. The basis of the design revolves around C6 Corvette gear but I had a one-off, 5-link rear end fitted to mine. It can also be set up as a 3 or 4-link depending on the type of driving I plan on doing. It really is trick bit of gear. ” explained Greg. If you can take your eyes off the incredible looking 18-inch Forgeline wheels and look through the Grigio Silver painted spokes, you will see the equally incredible Baer Brakes. The Camaro wears 14-inch rotors, yes 14-inches on the front and the back with 6-pot calipers! Impressive? Damn straight.
Much like the engine bay, the interior is ridiculous. Perforated leather graces the custom door trims, the dash top and the Sparco Evo seats. The roll cage fits the race theme well as does the trick looking shifter and Sparco wheel. “I bought the ali pedals but the set didn’t have an accelerator pedal so I machined one up. That’s what I do – I see the problem and then I solve it” said Greg. The gauges in the car are something else too. “They come from a mob called Speedhut. If there is a problem with the car, that gauge will light up red so you shut the car off. It is a great idea because when you are racing, you don’t always have time to be looking at your levels or numbers” explained Greg. Another safety measure is the onboard fire suppression system.
“If I can say one thing now that I have finished the build is that I stayed true to the car and the design. That idea in my head is now before me and is perfect from top to bottom. It really is my dream car and there is not one thing I would alter on it. During the whole process I really immersed myself into the project. I remember waking up at night, having an idea or a thought and then writing it down. That is how committed I was. To me, it was all about the finer details, the fit and finish. That was the stuff that I wanted to get right. It was my effort that would shine and reflect who I am. To say that I am proud, well, that would be an understatement” concluded Greg.
For all of us, we only see the finished product, we aren’t lucky enough to see how the car developed, we weren’t able to be there when Greg got those lightbulb moments and reacted to them. All we can do is admire the quality of the completed machine. As I finish I want to say it, but I want to make sure you all know something – the term ‘next level’ gets bandied around far too much these days and has sadly lost some of its impact, but if there was ever one car I was going to say was ‘next level’ from WA right now, it is this exact Camaro. I bet if Eric Bana ever gets to see Greg’s Camaro, I reckon he will be turning to his wife and suggesting it’s time to ditch the old Falcon.