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’71 Camaro – SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Less hype, more substance.It’s a remarkably simple formula lost upon most marketing goons. Passing of cookie-cutter giveaway cars as real-deal performance machines is one of the lamest tricks in the book. Luckily for hot rodders, Raybestos does things a bit diferently. By seeking the expertise of Schwartz Performance, the duo whipped up a track-proven ’71 Camaro that appeals to real car guys. Soccer moms needn’t apply. Packed with a 720hp supercharged LS3, a Tremec T-56 Magnum, a Schwartz chassis, and, of course, Raybestos brakes, the Camaro knocks down 11-second e.t.’s on street tires. Oh yeah, it also hangs with cars costing 10 times as much on the autocross. How’s that for substance?

Getting a few props here and there can go a long way. As a former GT1 Corvette and IMSA Camaro racer, Jef Schwartz’s builds have always emphasized on-track performance. Whether it’s an ’82 Cadillac that runs 11s at the drags and 1.02 g’s around the skidpad or a twin-turbo Ultima GTR that runs 211 mph in the standing mile, “Performance” isn’t just in the name of his shop. It’s a design philosophy that permeates into every last heim joint and ftting in Schwartz’s builds. Not surprisingly, in 2013 Schwartz took home Car Craft magazine’s Pro Builder of the Year award with his 1,800hp ’67 Malibu, and he also won Popular Hot Rodding magazine’s Muscle Car of the Year competition with his twin-turbo ’81 Trans Am. 

Considering that he had to go up against the best car builders in the country for both events, the wins were quite an accomplishment to say the least. Schwartz Performance’s Woodstock, Illinois, facility just happens to be located a mere 14 miles down the road from Raybestos Brakes’ corporate headquarters, and the powers that be took notice. “Those two wins got us a lot of recognition, so Raybestos approached us to build their 2014 giveaway car. I had complete artistic freedom with this project, and with the help of Chad Hill and Django Studios, we put some ideas on paper,” Jef explains. “I wanted to resurrect the look of the ’75- 80 Camaro RS paint scheme. The hood and roof of those cars were painted satin black, and the look was ahead of its time. I’ve never seen a hot rod built recently with that paint scheme, so I thought it would be cool to apply it to an early second-gen Camaro. 

Since red and black are Raybestos colors, that gave us a solid plan to work from.” The hardened rust-belter fgured the desert would be a good place to look for a suitable project car, so Jef called up his buddy Jim Galloway in Phoenix. He directed him to a clean ’71 Camaro that appeared fairly solid, but the Camaro turned out to be a car that hid its scars well. “Once we stripped it down, we discovered a lot of body damage. We had to replace every piece of the body metal expect for the front header panel and the rear taillight panel,” Jef recalls. “To make it stand out from every other Camaro out there, we had VFN make us a custom hood with twin Firebird Formula-style scoops. Next, Paint Spot (Addison, Illinois) sprayed the car Valspar Red and satin black. To tie it all together, we added a body-colored lip to the 18-inch Forgeline wheels.” 

Good looks aside, any car that subscribes to the extreme performance philosophy better have some serious snot under the hood. The Camaro delivers on this promise with a supercharged 417ci LS3. It’s based on a factory 6.2L block ftted with a forged Lunati rotating assembly and stock LS3 cylinder heads. Since the 2.3L SLP supercharger stufs up to 8 psi into the cylinders, the Lunati hydraulic roller cam measures a conservative 217/236 at 0.050. Jef assembled the engine at his shop, and the combo lays down 582 horsepower and 607 lb-ft of torque on the chassis dyno. The pressurized LS horsepower is channeled through a Tremec T-56 Magnum six-speed manual trans and a Moser 9-inch rearend with 3.50:1 gears. 

The combo is good for 11.8-second e.t.’s at 127 mph on street tires. Throw some slicks on it, and this is a solid 10-second machine. Of course, the former pro road racer couldn’t build a car without a chassis capable of clinging to the pavement, so Jef bolted a Schwartz G-Machine chassis and suspension beneath the Camaro’s body. The setup includes tubular control arms up front, a four-link out back, big sway bars front and rear, and RideTech coilovers at each corner. Jef takes great pride in his company’s chassis, which are available for more than two dozen applications, and they certainly ofer some unique benefts that don’t necessarily reveal themselves in a spec list.

 “It’s a full frame that bolts into a unibody car. Believe it or not, it actually reduces the weight of the car,” he explains. “Even with a stereo, A/C, a supercharger, and Dynamat on the entire foorboard, this car weighs 3,250 pounds. Our front suspension design is lighter than stock, and getting rid of the stock cast-iron steering box and rear leaf springs saves a lot of weight. The front shocks have over 5 inches of travel so you can get the car to sit low and still have a very smooth ride. I prefer designing a suspension with soft springs for a smooth and streetable ride, and stif sway bars for fat cornering.” 

With great grip and power comes great speed, which makes the Camaro the perfect showcase for Raybestos’ new line of performance brake components. “Raybestos doesn’t sell a big-brake kit, but if a guy gets creative he can engineer his own system using Raybestos components from the parts store. Raybestos has recently released their R300 14-inch Corvette brake rotors and their high-performance Element 3 brake pads,” says Jef. “For this Camaro, we matched them up with PBR twin-piston calipers of an ’09 Mustang. When I saw them in the warehouse, they had a much beefer casting than a Corvette caliper, which makes them more rigid and less prone to fex. All we had to do was fab up some caliper brackets.” 

While anyone can put together an impressive ensemble of parts, it’s on track where the Raybestos Camaro truly distances itself from the typical giveaway car. The day after the car was completed, it fnished in Second place at the 2014 Car Craft Muscle Car of the Year competition. It also fnished runner-up in the Real Street Eliminator competition later that year. “The car wasn’t even sorted out, and we had no time to tune on it at all. It was cool to go head-to-head with the top guys straight out of the box, especially considering an old guy like me was driving,” Jef jokes. So much performance, so little hype. How’s that for substance?

 

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