RE­AL­ITY

NZV8 - - EVENTS GUIDE -

Llew Pic­ton’s 2014 Ca­maro was cool. It was slammed within an inch of its life; had the right wheels with the right off­sets; and, bet­ter still, had twin-tur­bos hid­ing un­der­neath. There’s no doubt that it was a tough ma­chine, but what re­ally in­ter­ested him was the chal­lenge of build­ing a com­plete cus­tom car — some­thing that in­cluded all the qual­i­ties of a real-deal pro-tour­ing set-up. It had to be old school but built to out-han­dle al­most any­thing else on the road, not to men­tion able to turn heads lo­cally and on screens around the globe. It couldn’t be just any car, but a car built his way, and by that we mean it had to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T per­fect — not 99.9-per-cent per­fect, but 100 per cent — and it had to in­clude plenty of pre­ci­sion engi­neer­ing. But, while we’re sure that he’s prob­a­bly pushed a few of those who’ve helped out with the build to their lim­its with his quest to get the car he wanted, the end re­sult of his five-year labour of love is noth­ing short of flaw­less. Hav­ing been to the SEMA Show a few times, and be­ing heav­ily in­volved in the on­line pro­tour­ing com­mu­nity, he knew ex­actly what he wanted, so, when a friend, Brian from All Speed Cus­toms, let him know that there was a great, un­mo­lested ’69 Ca­maro for sale nearby, Llew added a few days on to a US busi­ness trip and made a de­tour to Michi­gan to check it out in the flesh. It must have been good, as Llew did the deal then and there, leav­ing Brian in charge of the car for the next year or so while the project got un­der­way. Be­ing re­spon­si­ble for count­less SEMA-spec ve­hi­cles, Brian was the per­fect guy to kick off the build, but, rather than get the car fin­ished off overseas, Llew brought it home mid­way, so that he could work along­side the tech­ni­cal team at the LVVTA to make sure that things got done to the let­ter of the law. This fac­tor was so im­por­tant be­cause, rather than just throw­ing some af­ter­mar­ket sus­pen­sion arms at the car or putting in a front clip, the car would be based on a com­plete Road­ster Shop Fast Track chas­sis. Those in the know will be aware that the Ca­maro never had a full chas­sis from the fac­tory, so graft­ing one in was no small task. Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters even fur­ther is the fact that if it were sim­ply bolted to­gether the car would be deemed scratch­built, which would mean con­vert­ing it to right-hand drive. The way around this was to graft the ex­quis­ite Road­ster Shop plat­form into the bodyshell, to trans­form it back into a mono­coque ve­hi­cle. Luck­ily, Brian and Llew were on the same page, and, along with the rest of the All Speed crew, with input from the tech staff at Road­ster Shop, they be­gan the car’s trans­for­ma­tion from stocker to pro-tour­ing weapon un­like any other New Zealand had ever seen. While all along Llew’s plan was to paint it black, that didn’t put him off com­mis­sion­ing some se­ri­ous body mods — like flar­ing all four guards to em­pha­size the clas­sic ’69 styling. Be­ing the mas­ter­mind be­hind many high­end builds, Brian threw some ideas at Llew, while Llew came back at him with his own, with ev­ery one mak­ing the Ca­maro cooler than be­fore. While each of the mods adds at­ti­tude to the car, there’s noth­ing that de­tracts from the iconic Ca­maro shape — the shape that Llew fell in love with all those years ago.

Of course, the plans for the car weren’t just for some­thing that would look good sit­ting still, but for one that would kick arse on the road and track, too. The best way to achieve this was to have an en­gine built while the car was still State­side, then dropped in be­fore it was shipped.

Weg­ner Motorsports is a key en­gine builder for those who love their late-model horse­power and is the builder of choice for many high-end shops like Ring broth­ers and Road­ster Shop. Thus, it wasn’t long be­fore Llew was in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the team at Weg­ner to cre­ate a killer combo. Based around a Rac­ing Head Ser­vice (RHS) LS block, the mill would dis­place no less than 427ci and soon be topped with a Whip­ple 2.9-litre su­per­charger. For max­i­mum flow rates, the best fac­tory heads out of the GM stable were sourced — those usu­ally found fit­ted to an LSA. With that much air­flow com­ing in, it’s for good rea­son that the ro­tat­ing as­sem­bly now com­prises hand-se­lected com­po­nen­try that can han­dle what is ex­pected of it. The bones of this are Cal­lies Ul­tra rods, which are stretched be­tween Mahle forged pis­tons at one end and a Cal­lies Dragon­slayer crank at the other.

With the Ca­maro fully loaded with parts, it was was dropped onto some 18x10.5-inch and 19x13 inch HRE Per­for­mance wheels and soon on its way home to Auck­land, where the sec­ond stage of the build could take place. It was here, af­ter hav­ing dis­cussed his build plan with a hand­ful of dif­fer­ent busi­nesses, that Llew met with the team at In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor­sport (IMS).

Right from the get-go, it was clear that he and IMS were on the same page, and, hav­ing come fresh off the back of com­plet­ing an­other high-end Ca­maro, they were the per­fect team to see the build through to com­ple­tion.

Work­ing closely with the LVVTA, Llew was as­sured that, de­spite early trep­i­da­tion, all the hard work would be worth­while in the end. What he didn’t need to have any con­cerns about were the me­chan­i­cal as­pects of the build. Not only did IMS as­sign its work­shop man­ager Shaun Hayes to project man­age the build, but the busi­ness’s decades of ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing high-end race and road cars was also at hand. Mas­ter fab­ri­ca­tor Bren­don Dovey was also a crit­i­cal mem­ber of the IMS team in­volved with the project and re­spon­si­ble for much of the fab­ri­ca­tion and as­sem­bly work you see to­day.

How­ever, many as­pects of the project had al­ready been taken care of for be­fore it reached IMS, such as the brak­ing sys­tem, the main com­po­nents of which came as part of the Road­ster Shop chas­sis pack­age.

Of course, the Wil­wood hy­drovac needed to be added to con­trol the six- and four-pot Wil­wood calipers be­fore it could be called done, but Llew be­ing Llew, he wasn’t go­ing to call it fin­ished that easy. In­stead, his level of de­tail went down to or­der­ing Clay­ton Ma­chine Works billet ped­als for the Chev, as well as an elec­tric hand­brake sys­tem. Hav­ing CAD and CNC re­sources at his dis­posal, Llew went a step fur­ther and had many of his own parts cus­tom-cre­ated too, such as seat brack­ets and ad­justers, door pulls, and the shifter stem. The seats them­selves, Re­caros, were im­ported from overseas be­fore be­ing de­liv­ered to Mark and Lee at Su­per­trim Uphol­ster­ers to be wrapped in gor­geous im­ported Rel­i­cate leather. The door skins, cen­tre con­sole, and rear side pan­els were all cus­tom-made, while the car­bon-fi­bre A-pil­lar cov­ers were from Anvil Auto. Llew called in Mo­tor­sport Elec­tron­ics to wire up the Auto Me­ter gauges and en­sure that the mon­ster un­der the hood would fire into life when the key was turned. Be­fore this could hap­pen, the fuel sys­tem, com­pris­ing two ZL1 Ca­maro fuel pumps that draw fuel from a Rick’s Tanks stain­less fuel tank, needed to be in­stalled, as did the 65-pound fuel in­jec­tors from FAST.

Llew’s per­fec­tion­ist na­ture meant that there was no way that he would cope with an ex­haust sys­tem that was less than mil­lime­tre per­fect. Thank­fully, the IMS crew was up to the task and poured un­told hours into cre­at­ing the ex­quis­ite two-inch head­ers that now weave un­der the car to meet with a twin three-inch sys­tem. While Llew

While each of the mods adds at­ti­tude to the car, there’s noth­ing that de­tracts from the iconic Ca­maro shape

Speak­ing of rub­ber, up front, the mas­sive 275/35R18 tyres give the car a se­ri­ously tough stance, and, yes, even at that ride height they give the car full lock with­out rub­bing on any­thing. This is thanks to IMS’s tech­ni­cal know-how; some cus­tom in­ner guards; and the Road­ster Shop Fast Track front-sus­pen­sion set-up, which works in con­junc­tion with C6 Corvette spin­dles and Z06 hubs. Ride-height ad­just­ment and damp­en­ing are care of Penske coilover shocks wrapped in H&R springs, while body roll is negated by a 1.25-inch splined front sway bar. Out back is a four-bar set-up, again matched with Penske shocks and H&R springs. While the build was tak­ing place, Llew was busy grow­ing his Pro Tour­ing Garage so­cial-me­dia brand, a brand that now has a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing in the pro-tour­ing world, and the re­la­tion­ships that he has fos­tered through Pro Tour­ing Garage have helped a lot with the tech know-how and prod­ucts used on his car. It may, then, seem some­what ironic that he tried his hard­est to keep the ’69 project quiet. Yet there was method to the mad­ness, and, on the ve­hi­cle’s de­but at the re­cent CRC Speed­show, peo­ple were blown away by it, to the point that it de­servedly took out the Peo­ple’s Choice award and best Mod­i­fied Coupe.

With the car’s tough look and parts, it’d be easy to pin­point it as a high-end Amer­i­can build, but clearly that’s not the case. Sure, there’s been in­ter­na­tional input, but this piece of pro-tour­ing per­fec­tion is all Kiwi. And, as Llew set out to achieve, it ticks all his boxes of what it needed to be: old school, flaw­less and kick arse.

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