It took Jonny Wadsworth a few years to build this killer ’67 SS Camaro, but we reckon it was worth the wait. Packing a stroked LS3, generous suspension upgrades, a six-speed stick-shift, big brakes, and smooth Trans-Am circuit styling pointers, this is one absolutely killer street car that can do it all and look damn good doing it.
But Jonny’s path here actually started when he built a tough VR ute back in his early 20s, and then got disillusioned with the iron lion as cam, intake, tuned LS1s were making the same grunt, but his stout 355 was a chore to drive on the road. Following the ownership of a few HSVs, including a mint, low-kay SV300 limited edition, Jonny had a four-year break from cars as life took over. But this gave him four calendar’s worth of thinking time about what he’d have in his ultimate car.
“I knew it had to be a classic muscle car with an individual look, be drivable in any conditions, utilise new technology, plus it had to handle, stop and go,” says Jonny, perfectly describing the Pro Touring style of cars. “I had set my mind on an HK-HQ Holden coupe, but I felt a bit uneasy about what I had planned, and the amount of custom and fabrication work involved to do what I want. It was by chance I came across the USmuscle.com forum and my eyes were opened to the world of American muscle cars.
“I discovered the massive Pro Touring movement in the USA represented exactly what I wanted to do in my build. I quickly changed my mind to a first-gen Camaro, which was perfect for a DIYer like myself as everything you can dream up has already been thought of, engineered, track-tested and packaged up as an off-the-shelf part, ready to go! I spent a good 12 months scouring the internet for a good project starter and then came across a ’67 SS roller for sale. It had a full rotisserie rebuild that was fully documented by its owner who had a panel shop, and it was a bare shell so I could fill with whatever I wanted! It was in a colour scheme I would have picked, even down to the Trans Am stripes, and he had already installed Detroit Speed and Engineering mini-tubs and weld-in subframe connectors.”
Jonny then got in touch with Don Hardy Race Cars from Texas and purchased an engine from him based upon the ubiquitous Gen IV 6.2-litre LS3, and stomping out an impressive 612hp on the engine dyno.
It now swings 418ci thanks to a 4340-steel crank, 4340-steel H-beam rods, and DHRC flat-top pistons, with a Comp Cams 232/242/114 bumpstick pushing LS7 lifters. GM CNC-ported Gen IV head castings are filled with 2.165in intake valves, and 1.590 exhaust valves, DHRC pushrods, and PAC 1518 springs.
A narrowed stainless steel fuel tank stuffed with an Aeromotive 340 Stealth pump and Dakota Digital sender, while 50lb MSD Atomic injectors deliver the 98 PULP via FAST LSXR 102 intake.
“I decided on the 418ci stroker as it is impossible to license a blown LSX in WA, and I knew a cam-only LS3 would not keep the power demons at bay,” explains Jonny. “With the mild cam I requested, mated up to the Tremec Magnum six-speed manual it is a very nice package, plus the DSE Quadralink four-link setup with 315mm tyres out back really puts the power to the ground, especially as the car weighs in at only 1420kg!”
Joining the Tremec ‘box and White Lightning short-shifter is an APT ceramic twin-plate clutch, while Jonny binned the old cable clutch actuation in favour of a modern hydraulic set-up. Out back is a heavy-duty GM 12-bolt diff, stuffed with Moser billet axles, 3.7 final drive and a Detroit TruTrac LSD centre.
“Everything in the driveline has been selected to handle well above the current power level as there is no point putting all your money into the engine if you worry what will break every time you give it a boot-full,” offers Jonny.
On top of the DSE subframe connectors, four-link and mini-tubs, the Camaro also benefits from their billet solid body mounts, a Flaming River collapsible steering column, quick-ratio steering box, Speedtech control arms and swaybar, to give the F-body far higher grip levels than GM intended it to have. On top of this, there are Viking double-adjustable coil-overs up front and JRI coil-over struts out back, with braking handled by 13in Wilwood rotors with four-piston Wilwood callipers at each corner.
Don’t bother looking for those 18x8in and 18x11in three-piece wheels in any catalogue as they’re custom items from Forge Wheels Australia, wrapped in sticky 235/40 and 315/30 Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.
“The point of this build was to have a go and not rely on any shops as money I saved on labour left more for other parts, so I did everything myself,” says Jonny. “It was hard work as most people pull a car apart first then put it back together, but I had to work out what I needed… which ended up being everything from the Classic Industries catalogue!
“The build was a massive learning curve for me, and I made some great friends along the way. I have had the car on the road for around four years now, and it has been a great ride ticking all the boxes I set out to.” We can’t wait to see how the ’69 Camaro Jonny is planning on building will turn out!
Words // Ian Kelly
The article first appeared in Street Machine / LSX Tuner 2018