This article on Trevor Newton's RS Camaro was originally published in the October 2011 issue of Street Machine magazine
ALL TOO often we see cars that are trophy vacuums in the show halls, sucking up everything in sight, but never venture on the open road. It’s a sad fact, and one that seems to confound Trevor Newton; “Plenty of people build cars but never, ever drive them.”
In Trev’s mind that’s tantamount to sacrilege. He reckons driving them is what it’s all about. But that’s not to say he doesn’t like show cars. One look at his ’67 RS Camaro is enough to dispel that theory, and the Summernats 24 judges agreed; they awarded Trevor a place in the Top 10.
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But Top 10 cars don’t get driven do they? That seems to be the common theory.
At full drop the polished stainless exhaust is just 20mm off the ground. Trevor built the exhaust in the shed at home with the car sitting on 300mm high jack stands. “I bought a hoist after I finished the car,” he laughs. “How intelligent is that?”
“I went for a drive last night in it,” Trevor says, “I drove down High St in Wodonga and the amount of people that look at it and give you the thumbs up in the street, that’s a real buzz. That’s what it’s all about.”
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Trevor bought the car a decade ago with the intention of building a nice streeter. It’s not his first time either. He had another ’67 Camaro years ago that he drove to Summernats and tried to park out on the main arena, but the judges had other ideas. “They said, ‘No, it’s going to go into the Elite Hall’,” Trevor recalls, “I said, ‘No, they’re all wankers in there’, and I drove it over to the oval.”
But to no avail, the Street judges directed him back to Elite Hall where he went into the Top 60; not bad for a car that was driven at least four hours to Canberra.
“It was a nice Camaro,” Trevor says, “But you know, it was like every other Camaro you ever see. It had the full paint job, full interior with a warm 350 and turbo 350, but it was just like, yeah, a nice Camaro. I wanted something that had a bit of wow factor – all smooth.”
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Rather than totally rebuild an already nice car, he sold the old Camaro and bought a project car – a blank canvas to make his own, and just like the previous car it was a ’67.
This is what it’s all about, Trevor reckons. The Gear Vendors overdrive is great for cruising. Trev says he’ll probably replace the 4.11 gears to bring the revs down for even more cruisability
“I like the ’67/68 shape more than I do the ’69 shape,” he says.
But his new car wasn’t exactly in showroom condition when he bought it.
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“The guy had it advertised in Just Cars and he had 14 grand on it; for a genuine ’67 RS Camaro. I thought, yeah, this is good and I rang him up, and asked what it was like, and he said, ‘Oh pretty rough’.”
The Vortech blown 383ci LT1 hasn’t been fully tuned yet, but Trevor’s confident of around 600hp. Check out the inner guards, which are now one piece with each outer fender
Despite that honest opinion Trevor went and had a look and shortly after he was trundling home with a heavy car trailer and a much lighter pocket.
“It was pretty ordinary, actually it was really ordinary,” he laughs.
Just how ordinary would be revealed with some attention from a sandblaster after Trevor dropped the shell off at restoration specialist Graham Robb.
“After he had it sandblasted Graham rang me up and said, ‘Oh, you better come and have a look at this’. I think it was the sort of thing that you’d say, ‘Well, we’ll put that back in the tip and start again’,” Trevor laughs.
But they persevered with the shell and replaced every panel except the roof turret, and even that needed some work to fix dents and a bunch of rust above the rear screen.
“Graham did a great job,” Trevor says, “Nothing was a hassle. Nothing was too much of a problem.”
But this wasn’t just a restoration build, Trevor wanted his car to have serious muscle car credibility. The rear tubs were stretched to the chassis rails to enclose those 12in-wide Intro rims, and every panel was debadged and smoothed.
A few other cool features were incorporated like the exhaust through the rear valance and the deleted door handles. In fact, the doors needed more work than most panels.
Trevor wanted a smooth look, which meant the quarter vents needed to go. So he bought a pair of ’68 doors for the ’67.
But he also wanted to keep the ’67 interior look, which has a metal strip on the inside at the top of the door, so that needed to be changed.
Then they discovered the hinge bolt positions were different from ’67 to ’68 as well.
“That was a bit of a trial,” Trevor admits.
It took two years to get the body ready and in primer, then it was back to Trevor’s for suspension, interior and engine fit up to make sure everything slotted together the way it was supposed to. Of course it didn’t.
It may look a little odd at first, but Trevor routed the stainless exhaust like that to keep it as high and out of the way as possible. It also gives you a clear view of that polished alloy sump and billet trans pan
Trevor wanted airbags and bought a kit to suit, but none of it fitted with the other suspension components he already had.
“I bought the Fatman Fabrications front end from the States, and it was set up originally for coil overs, and the pockets in the chassis weren’t big enough to accommodate the airbags,” Trevor says.
Luckily Trevor has his own engineering business in Wodonga, and so what would be a big problem for most of us, was a slightly smaller problem for him. Check out the underside of Trevor’s Camaro, and pay particular attention to the rear suspension.
Underneath is simply beautiful and mostly done in house. Trevor admits to doing most pieces several times with lots of trial and error during the 10-year build
See those four link arms? They’ve been machined from heavy-duty aluminium and this isn’t the first suspension system Trevor’s built for the Camaro.
“I always put myself in the position, ‘Would I accept that?’” he says. “I originally made up a Watts linkage all out of stainless that looked fantastic. I had it all mounted up and then I thought it just looked messy, so I got rid of it all.”
Mazda MX6 buckets feature front and back with a Toyota MR2 steering column. Rybuck Trimming in Albury handled the interior; Bamboo coloured leather for the seats, dash and console, Mercedes carpet on the floor and macro suede for the headlining
Then Trevor realised he was going to need some serious machine work performed if he was going to use as much aluminium as planned.
“I extended the building by 10 metres and put a mate of mine in there with some CNC gear,” he says.
It was put to good use. Take a look underneath the car and the evidence is clear. Transmission cross member, rear suspension arms, trans pan, sway-bar mounts, exhaust mounts and so on – they’ve all been machined from aluminium. And it’s not just underneath. Check out the grill, headlight covers, front blinkers and taillights; they’ve all been crafted in the CNC mill.
The engine also copped some lovin’ from the CNC. Like those rocker covers for example. You guessed it, they’ve been hewn from solid chunks of billet aluminium.
“When I started this car it never, ever started out to be a show car,” Trevor reckons. “I just wanted something that was done properly, it had to be right.”
Don’t believe it? Well the evidence is right there in the engine bay. When people build show cars they either go with something clean and simple with the engine – Ron Barclay style – or something outrageous like Gary Myer’s Silver Bullet. Typically they don’t use a reverse-mount Vortech blower bolted to a 383ci LT1.
“You’ve got to have horsepower,” Trevor says. “I liked the idea of the Vortech blower. I contacted them in the States and they said this will give you an extra 40 per cent power. So I think once we dyno it, because it hasn’t been dynoed yet, it should be up around the 550-600hp.”
The engine started off as a 300hp 350ci LT1 from a ’93/94 Corvette, but it’s a whole lot better than that now. The innards are all-new and feature a Scat steel crank, H-beam rods and SRP forged pistons. Experienced spanner twirler Wally Dewar from Dewar Motors in north east Victoria’s Tangambalanga pieced the 383ci donk together with a set of ported alloy heads to top it off.
The Vortech blower is a V2 S-trim pumping in around 9.5psi boost and with a Motec ECU controlling the show we reckon Trev’s not too far off the mark with his 550-600hp estimate.
Backing up the stout small block is a Turbo 400 with a Gear Vendors overdrive hanging off the tail with the gears controlled by a pair of flappy paddles on the steering wheel. You’ll need your sunglasses to follow the polished aluminium tailshaft to the Strange alloy carrier. There’s more glitter than Mardi Gras (or so they tell me) under this car. The diff is a braced nine-inch wearing Romac full floating hubs and a pair of 14in Baer brakes. With the same size discs up front, stopping isn’t an issue for this 60s muscle car.
It’s all too easy to dismiss Trevor’s Camaro as just another show pony, with its eye-searing PPG Rosso Corsa paint, custom billet accessories and ground-hugging stance, but Trev is just one of those guys who wants the best.
“The theory I adopted was less is more,” he says. “It’s got to look smooth, and it’s got to look sleek and uncluttered. No drip rails, no door handles, no bling you know, and no crap.”
The only chrome on the car is the front and rear bumpers; “It’s from the chrome bumper era, I figured that’s all we needed,” Trevor says. “We didn’t need badges to tell people what it is, if they know cars, they know it’s a Camaro; it’s not a Vauxhall.”
Since its debut at MotorEx in 2010, the Camaro has won a swag of trophies but that’s not what Trevor cares about. For him it’s all about quality time behind the wheel.
“I like to drive it, it’s a real buzz to drive, especially with the paddle shift on it,” he says. “The first time I took it out on the road, I just started laughing. I don’t know if everyone saw me, but I just started laughing out loud because after 10 years to build, this is a real buzz. It’s what it’s all about.”
1967 RS CAMARO
Colour: PPG Rosso Corsa
Engine: Chev 383
Throttle body: Holley 95mm
Blower: Vortech V2
Intake: Polished LT1
Heads: Alloy, ported
Pistons: SRP forged
Crank: SCAT steel
Fuel: 98 octane
Exhaust: Block huggers, twin 2.5in stainless, Flowmaster mufflers
Transmission: TH400, Gear Vendors overdrive
Diff: Nine-inch, 4.11 gears, Moser 31-spline axles, Romac full-floating hubs
Brakes: Baer 14in discs, 4-spot calipers (f&r)
Master cylinder: Twin Tilton
Springs: Air Ride Shockwave (f&r)
Shocks: Air Ride adjustable (f&r)
Suspension: Fatman fab (f), Custom alloy 4-link (r)
Steering: BMW rack & pinion, MR2 column
Rims: Intro Pentia, 18x8in (f), 20x12in(r)
Rubber: Goodyear Eagle F1, 225/35 (f), 285/30 (r)