With a warbird theme, I can’t help but write about this Pro Touring Camaro with a World War II feel. The idea makes sense too, as Mike DuSold, the car’s owner, goes to war against Corvettes in every race he runs it.
When Myron Scott came up with the Corvette moniker for Chevrolet, he was inspired by the small and highly maneuverable warships of the same name. During the Second Great War, General Motors took over production of the TBM Avenger torpedo bomber plane to fight against enemy corvette ships when aircraft company Grumman began to focus on the F6F Hellcat. I’m pretty sure Mike would be proud of that since the theme isn’t by accident.
“The theme behind my car came from a warbird collection I have had the opportunity to be around,” says Mike, “Sitting in those planes and getting to work on them was an awesome experience. It gave me the idea to try to pull off the same theme with the car. I didn’t just want it to be a car with a plane themed paint job, I wanted it to have plane DNA all the way through it. Even the chassis design has aircraft inspiration.”
That chassis is also a full tube-frame design.Tube Frame Chassis
That’s right, that evil sounding word to those who cry out as purists of street driven cars, this Camaro is built with a tube-frame chassis, despite its unibody origins. Yet, just by looking at it, you can’t tell. That’s the beauty in a purpose-built chassis that’s completely custom. The body still looks original because it is, and the floor is modified so that it fits on the new chassis.
“The current version of the car was inspired by the performance gap between the previous version and race prepped Corvettes. We figured out that we were either going to need to switch platforms or undergo a drastic transformation,” says Mike.
When you’re up against the latest Corvettes from the General, your warbird needs all the updating and improvements it can get. So the suspension geometry was changed, allowing the car to work with the massive 335-section BFGoodrich Rival S tires front and rear.
One of the big reasons for the drastic change is the switch over to a Corvette transaxle. Out went the 10-bolt and leaf springs, and in when a Tremec TR-6060 MZ6 transaxle with an independent rear suspension (IRS). Much like a Corvette, moving the transmission to the back improves the weight balance of the car to near 50/50 by itself. It also allows the engine to move back several inches, which gets it closer to that perfect distribution. You also get a modern 6-speed gearbox over the old-school Muncie M20 4-speed gearbox, never mind the Powerglide 2-speed or the TH350 3-speed automatics. The tube-chassis was also chosen to allow for a fully integrated roll-cage built for both safety and maximum chassis rigidity, while still giving a clean build inside.Design & Power
The warbird theme also continues inside. Being a part of the Ultimate Street Car Association (USCA) means it must pass the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge. They look for fit, form, function, and safety when judging every car that passes by the selected judges for each event.
It’s not unusual to hear about Mike’s car taking home the highest points in the D&E, just like he did this year at the 2017 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. And you only need to take a look inside to understand why. While you can see the cage it’s entirely part of the interior design, and the leather-wrapped center console, metal dashboard, door cards, seats and airplane gauges give off the vibe of warbirds of years past. The metal work alone is something to stare at for days just to find all the handmade details.
One of the obvious things you’ll notice about this Camaro right away is the sound from the side pipes. It’s not just a loud, V8 burble from the LS Gen IV-based 7.0L block coming out of them; it’s the sounds of Precision Turbo turbochargers that feed boosted air through an LS3 intake manifold into a set of LS9 heads via a Holley throttle body. While the stock Gen IV bottom end can handle plenty of power, Mike elected to get his built by ERL Performance prior to the division shutting down earlier this year. A Quarter Master clutch clamps the power transferred to the custom torque tube before going to the RPM Transmissions-built Z06 6-speed.MegaSquirt
Controlling the Turbo LS is an AMPEFI MS3Pro, a name some of you will probably recognize from the DIY world of engine tuning. The MS3 is based on the latest and greatest of the MegaSquirt family and the original EFI332 conceived by USENET Forum EFI-332 from John Gwynne in 1996. The two co-founders, Bruce Bowling and Al Grippo, further developed it to become the MegaSquirt – a complete kit for auto enthusiasts to build their own fuel injection computer from the ground up. From that simple fuel injection computer is now the MS3Pro, a full powertrain control module that equals or rivals the best in aftermarket ECUs with full control of injector and spark timing and dwell, variable valve timing control, traction control, data-logging, and more. While this version is all plug-and-play, there is still a version of the MS3 that is still in kit form and you hand assemble. Having done a MS2 myself, it’s an amazing way to learn what goes into building a PCM.
When Mike DuSold set out to create a Camaro that runs with the best sports cars in the US, he knew it was going to be a fight. With aircraft inspiration and detail, this 1967 Camaro has become one of the best Pro Touring cars in America.
It took a lot of effort, but it was time well spent with awards and recognition from events across the country. It’s a functional work of engineering art.
Photos by Louis Yio