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Old 18-11-2009, 09:46 PM
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RAW454 RAW454 is offline
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Name: Deano
RAW ’67 Camaro 454: A Baptism of Fire

Although not a ‘Build’ anywhere near the extent of other wonders on USM, the project that my first-ever musclecar has grown into over the past year is probably due for its own thread, so here we are!

Being just over a year since I joined USM, I’ve made regular contributions about my experiences which are scattered throughout the site. I’m not going revisit each of these in detail, but rather, kick off with a bit of an overview in my waffling story-teller style, and add a few things here & there as this project (very) gradually moves forward. Yep, sound like a plan. OK then. Let’s do it


I always wanted a musclecar. Who wouldn’t right? As a kid in the 80’s, my life was all about the Duke boys, A-Team, Knight Rider, Fall Guy, the Bandit and pretty much anything with 4 wheels and a big engine that was the hero on TV. Although bred to be a car racer like Dad, my attention turned to road motorcycles (due to licensing allowance at 17yrs) first for commuting, then eventually racing the country and winning 600cc championships etc. This kept me completely broke, but the desire for a tough car was always there. At the start of 2007 I moved out of my 8yr bike role at Suzuki Aust, and into the car world with Chrysler Aust. This job came with a company car, so the $500/month I was previously using for my daily driver went into a Muscle Car Savings Fund. And so the gradual search began.


Working with Hemi/Mopar freaks all day meant that a 69 Charger or 71 Challenger was initially high on the list, but I had no idea how HUGE these things are! And they literally wouldn’t fit in my little unit’s single garage; ) I really dug the Cuda size & shape as well, but these have become bloody expensive lately. So with a Mopar ‘legitimately’ off the list, I focussed back on the model that always rocked my world – A Gen1 Camaro.

About this time I’d started watching a whole heap of Overhaulin & Wrecks to Riches, whilst the ’69s done by Chip & Barry left me jaw agape, for some reason the earlier shape did it for me more - In particular the ‘68 SS RS. But finding one was not so easy, especially as I was on a VERY tight budget, yet was after a driver, not a restorer (I’d rebuilt bikes, but was still incredibly naive in the world of old school V8s and literally didn’t know a timing chain from a flexplate I looked at some horrors and although in no rush, was starting to back off when one day a tough pro-charged ’68 in QLD copped a price drop closer to my budget. But whilst I scrounging to send a deposit, another buyer snapped it up the same morning due to a simple phonecall mixup from the seller, Justin. But being the absolute legend that he is, Justin more than made up for this, by sharing his wealth of information on Camaros with me as we chatted about what I was after (other than his mini-tubbed 572 ’68 SS RS!). A light bulb went off later when he remembered his mate had a RHD freshly sprayed ’67 that had been sitting with the 454 out of it for some years, and convinced him to part with it.

I got some basic pics sent, and although not my absolute dream model of the time, it ticked SO many of my boxes; Mint bodywork & paint, disc front, 2”hood, console with horseshoe shifter, of course the mildly tweaked BBC, and being RHD a bonus. Along with a swag of new parts like bumpers, screen, interior chrome, dashpad, headlights, mirrors, many seals and much more. And an RS front could easily be retro fitted down the track if desired. Too easy! I flew up from Melb to see it in person with a musclecar nut mate, and though it couldn’t move from the corner of the garage, I committed to going ahead with having Justin take it home & get it together and going again for me.

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My plan was to have the car built, down to Melb and ready for a Summer break roadtrip with a dozen mates, leaving about 4-5 weeks for the engine to be put in & everything else sorted. Judging by what I’d seen on Foxtel this would be a doddle, right? Hmmm... Not as more and more things were uncovered – The mystery being that there was no back ground on the history of this car other than it came from WA years earlier, where an 80’s-style make-over had taken place (velour retrim, integrated steel spoiler & rod-style RHD conversion).

As the assembly kicked in, more Aussie content was unearthed - Torana calipers where found seized, discs worn & rusted beyond use, HQ master full of gunk, rear brakes shot, and missing things like wiper motor, horn, washers and no heater etc effecting rego. Plus LOTS more. So some upgrades like new discs, calipers & vented discs on 2” drop spindles where added with some King Springs along with a used PWR alloy radiator, new rear brakes and other RWC items. The T350 was rebuilt & shift kitted, extractors cleaned & painted along with the engine bay, wiring significantly neatened and motor dropped in with a brand new Holley 3310 750 VacSec carb and a few other goodies like the AED throttle bracket.

None of this reassembly mission was easy or relaxed for poor Justin (nor me, calling every couple of days for updates!), but a reward was delivered with the motor firing first time after 3yrs sitting idle. New tailpipes were made up in 2.5” to my design and new 275/60 Cooper Cobras fitted filling out the 8.5” Centrelines.

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With the trip masquerading as a 4yr anniversary gift to my girlfriend, we ‘holidayed’ on the Gold Coast for a few days... coincidentally at the same time the Camaro was just finishing up its rebirth ;P Seeing it in the flesh for the first time since that dark garage corner was amazing, as was hearing it run and going for a (very gentle) drive – My first time EVER time behind the wheel of a muscle car! And it was MY muscle car!! How cool does it get! The extra upgrades meant that by the time delivery, and rego was added I had literally less than $80 left to my name, even after selling my beloved racebike. But I’ve always been one for living life rather than having a big bank balance, was after something new to play with, and I had it down home just days before the beach roadtrip.

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But here, dear readers, is where our fairytale becomes a harsh reality documentary. The day after rego, I went out to show it off to some mates (perhaps including its potential to spin the tyres).. when the LSD in the (HQ Sals) 10-bolt went BANG and metal crunched through the 3.55 gears. It was cactus. With no time or money for a full rebuild or upgrade, I got some used ebay gears & single spinner fitted and headed off for the roadtrip. The (HR) booster split after the first hour and then a couple of hours later in 38c sunshine & summer break traffic an old repair in the PWR radiator blew wide open. This was my second drive of the car .

I genuinely thought that I’d have a solid driver which could gradually have some upgrades delivered as my wallet allowed (stereo, retrim, new wheels etc), but since that day I’ve basically spent the last 11 months chasing problems. I’m on my fourth diff setup, saving for a fourth radiator, third master cylinder, third wiper motor, found rust holes, chased significant other issues with brakes, steering, engine mounts, suspension, thousands in electrics and much, much more.

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The above has certainly got me down at times and almost crushed the possibility I will ever own my dreamcar due to lack of money & knowledge. But primarily thanks to the support of my USM buddies here, I try to see the light at the end of the tunnel and remind myself that it’s very early days. I now know musclecar ownership really is a lifestyle and long-term commitment, not a summer-fling. And I’ve already learned and achieved SO much in my first year, even if it wasn’t all the fun/cool upgrades I was hoping for originally. But they will come with time

Thanks to watching Mr Foose etc, I always loved the Pro Touring style, and was keen to immediately ditch the old-school Centerlines in favour of some 18/19s, swap chrome for billet and add modern equipment wherever possible. But a funny thing happened in the first months – I started to seriously appreciate how ‘tough’ this car was, rather than how ‘trick’ it could be. Even the std grille/lights. So my project is (probably ) now “Phase 1 – Old School” and then will change to “Phase 2 – ProTour Style” in a couple of years. With a bit of crossover as new purchases are made

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So here’s a look back on a few of post-delivery projects that have kept me bouncing between the garage & the bank teller this year. Just a VERY small sample of a few before & afters..

Half-wrap billet steering wheel, refurbished console, alloy shifter surround, dash switches, solid billet mirror, pedals, sun visors, de-burred wheels, slotted drilled discs, calipers, King springs, billet alternator pulley, 120amp alternator, Koni adjustable shocks...

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9” diff, 31-spline billet axles, alloy master, rebuilt booster, thermo-fan, Race alloy radiator, K&N filter(s), Energy engine mounts, lowered rear suspension.. and much, much more.

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Last edited by RAW454; 19-11-2009 at 09:33 AM..
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Old 18-11-2009, 09:57 PM
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RAW454 RAW454 is offline
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Name: Deano


And here's what makes up my beastie at the moment. (EDIT - SPECS BEEN UPDATED ONGOING, SO ALWAYS CURRENT)

* * ENGINE * *

TYPE: 454ci, 7.4L, mid-70s LS4
INTAKE: K&N 11x3.5”, Holley 830 Annual Discharge, AER throttle bracket, Holley Street Dominator manifold
HEADS: Iron Oval-port # 336781 (2.06 in, 1.72 ex, 113cc, Open), Custom headers, 2.5" twin system, redback mufflers
INTERNALS: Unknown. Presumed standard except very mild hydraulic cam (spec unknown)
MOUNTS: Energy Suspension polyurethane
ELECTRICAL: MSD Billet & Blaster 2 coil,, 120amp alternator with billet pulley, boxed battery in boot
COOLING: Race Radiators alloy unit, Spal 16” single thermo fan (1786cfm), fixed driven fan, WB shroud


GEARBOX: TH350, shift kitted. 2300 converter.
DIFF: Taverna 9” (60 3/8"), 31-spline billet Currie axles, LSD centre, 3.5 gears
FRT SUSP: Koni adjustable shocks, King HD Springs, 2” drop spindles
RR SUSP: Koni adjustable shocks, Multileaf springs, Traction bars, 1” blocks (until reset springs)
FRT BRAKES: PBR boosted, alloy master, slotted/vented discs, ’69 Camaro style calipers
WHEELS: Centerline Autodrag, F: 15x7" (3-5/16 bs), R: 15x8.5" (4-7/8" bs). TYRES: F: 225/60-15, R: 275/50-15

* * BODY * *

MODS: 2” cowl hood, integrated metal rear spoiler, RS tail-lights, RS backup indicators, front spoiler, colour-matched drip rails, removed antenna, nolothane mounts

* * INTERIOR * *

GUAGES: Autometer 3.5” SportComp tach, Ultralite 2 1/16 oil press, water temp & volt
AUDIO: Pioneer DEH-6850MP, JL Audio 6” 3-way rears, JL Audio 6.5” front splits (UNFITTED: 2x JL Audio 10” subs in ported box, 2x Coustic 4ch amps 450w & 329w)
CONSOLE: ’68 Camaro, horseshoe shifter, brushed alloy surround, factory clock
OTHER: RHD conversion, billet half-leather wheel, billet mirror, custom billet door lock knobs, custom door trims (80’s), no glovebox or fan/heating, Newport wiper motor

* * FUTURE * *

POWER: Manifold- Edelbrock RPM airgap, Heads- Edelbrock performer alloy & fabricated covers, Pistons- 10:1 hyper, Cam- something lumpy!, Mufflers- Magnaflow 2.5”, Pro-charger (eventually!), and..

OTHER: 18 or 19” Vista-ish wheels, Hotchkis rear springs, Z/28 stripes, RS front (maybe), dark tint, retrim, cabin cooling/heating, and, and...

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Perhaps one day close to some of the models that I dream about;

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Huge thanks to everyone on USM who’ve helped so much this first year! I can’t wait for lots more forward progress! Some of the other highlight threads on my project are here;

LOCKING STEERING / ENGINE MOUNTS / DUMMY SPIT : http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=3575
WHEEL SIZING /CUSTOM DIFF / CLEARANCE: http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=2865
DASH GAUGES: http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=3156
WHY WE LOVE MUSCLE : http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=3210
DRAGSTRIP VIRGIN : http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=3394
NEW SHOCKS : http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=3089
NEW RADIATOR : http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=2593
STEREO INSTALL IDEAS : http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=2682
BLOWN 10-BOLT DIFF : http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=2327

Finally, here’s a few more pics of the past year to sign off this intro. Cheers guys!!

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'67 Camaro: RHD - Fresh 454 BBC (Forged 10.4:1, Eddy Alloy Heads, Isky 280 Mega) - Holley 830 Annular - RPM Airgap - MSD - 3" system - 2500 HD T400 - 9" TrueTrac 3.5 - 15" Autodrags... with a bit too much heartache to update HERE.

Last edited by RAW454; 08-03-2014 at 01:14 PM..
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Old 18-11-2009, 11:53 PM
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69SS 69SS is offline
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Deano, really enjoyed reading your super detailed write up. Only being a USM member for a short time I didn't realise how much you had gone though both good and bad to get your 68 on the road , its awesome to see and read the passion you have for muscle cars, once you left the dark side that is ( I used to race enduro same same but different ).

Looking forward to seeing RAW 67 progress over the next few years. Hopefully if I get off my butt, I'll will post a semi build on my 69 once i get things moving a bit quicker.


Go Hard or go home..
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Old 18-11-2009, 11:56 PM
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Deano mate that would have to be one the best post on USMUSCLE, well done!!! Always remember a Camaro is not just for a summer but a lifetime and lifestyle! i hope to see the beast in real this sunday
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Old 19-11-2009, 12:59 AM
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S[_]SPECT S[_]SPECT is offline
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As always Deano, you are a wordsmith mate.. Top post.
Again, good to see your back on the wagon.. have fun this summer dude. And next winter when your into the build again.. then next summer..

Dodgy Bros. Customs
Always be yourself.. unless you can be Batman.. ALWAYS be Batman.
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Old 19-11-2009, 07:05 AM
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geez man you make my buildup tales of..today I put some stainless bolts in 'x' really lame Nice work and a good read.
Budgets are for treasurers not car builders, words of a man that learnt the hard way Ken
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Old 19-11-2009, 09:45 AM
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18htan 18htan is offline
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Nice work Deano...

I think Deano should be the official USM motivational speaker!
Cheers Nate

Must give up women... Well more than 1 anyway.
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Old 19-11-2009, 09:45 AM
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Good onya Deano... Nice post...
"I usually downshift when I'm near a Prius so they can hear me hurting the environment"
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Old 19-11-2009, 09:53 AM
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RAW454 RAW454 is offline
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Name: Deano
Ta guys! Fear not, will be a bit more succinct from here-on in Mostly wanted to do that just to convince myself there actually has been some forward progress in the past year..

Have now fixed the pic widths too, so easier to read. Cheers again!
'67 Camaro: RHD - Fresh 454 BBC (Forged 10.4:1, Eddy Alloy Heads, Isky 280 Mega) - Holley 830 Annular - RPM Airgap - MSD - 3" system - 2500 HD T400 - 9" TrueTrac 3.5 - 15" Autodrags... with a bit too much heartache to update HERE.
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Old 19-11-2009, 09:55 AM
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Deano, you have a way with words. Great post

The ebb and flow between dreams and reality cash and no cash is the only constant in this hobby
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak
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Old 19-11-2009, 10:02 AM
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10/10 Deano.
A great read!!
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Old 20-12-2009, 10:48 PM
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RAW454 RAW454 is offline
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Just thought I'd post a couple of pix I snapped with my little compact camera today.

Was at the location coz some professional shots were taken by a photographer (& a camera worth considerably more than my $150 jobbie ), but I like these angles I found anyhoo... Stay tuned for the pro ones!

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Dig that last one for some reason - Not photoshopped, was just parked under one of the few lights in the parking garage... Cool, eh
'67 Camaro: RHD - Fresh 454 BBC (Forged 10.4:1, Eddy Alloy Heads, Isky 280 Mega) - Holley 830 Annular - RPM Airgap - MSD - 3" system - 2500 HD T400 - 9" TrueTrac 3.5 - 15" Autodrags... with a bit too much heartache to update HERE.
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Old 20-12-2009, 10:58 PM
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Yeah, very nice.. Great color saturation and contrast.
Elephant http://img.ps2netdrivers.net/img/a1/marshall.amplifier.acoustic.as50d.soloist/mini.jpg (click on the amp!) Post pictures! ..or it never happened.
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Old 21-12-2009, 12:11 PM
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last one looks killer
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Old 21-12-2009, 12:25 PM
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So JJ, have you got serious withdrawal symtoms now or what?
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