Dan Gray's '93 Camaro is cool on a number of levels. First, and probably most important, is its 713 lb-ft torque rating at the wheels. Think that's bull? He'll produce a dyno printout. Second, its mid-10-second elapsed times at the strip. Incredulous? Again, he'll show you a timeslip to back it up. Third, he drives it to and from the track-not just from a trailer to the starting line. He's a regular at the street-legal drags at California Speedway-which, at a little over 50 miles one way from his Mission Viejo home, is not exactly a short trip, either. Fourth, he's owned the car since it was new. And lastly, you could eat off of almost any piece of this car-exterior, interior, and undercarriage.
There's a lot to be said about Dan's undying devotion to this car and his desire to improve every aspect of it. He's the first to admit his Camaro still isn't exactly how he'd like it, and that it probably never will be. But, he says, it gets closer with every modification. After spending several hours with him during the photo shoot, my first question after the camera was put away was, why a '93 Camaro? He dotes over it as one would a family heirloom: It has been in the rain only once, it spends its down time in a climate-controlled garage with a waxed tile floor, and it's thoroughly detailed on a regular basis-outside, inside, and underneath. Dan's successful in his career and could afford a Hemi 'Cuda or a first-generation Camaro, so, again, why a '93? The answer is elementary-the car just felt right
"I've always been a Chevy guy," Dan says. "My first car was a '51 Chevy. I put in a straight axle and a 327 and an M-21 from a '63 Corvette." How many of us can say our first car was a Gasser? He was into cars and drag racing from the beginning, but spent some time away while establishing his business and helping raise a family. Later, when his schedule was more forgiving, he bought a new '92 Camaro, which he owned for only six months. "A friend of mine was the general manager of a Chevy dealer, and he called to ask if I wanted to testdrive one of the new LT1 Camaros that they had just gotten in," Dan explains. He was so impressed with the new-car's power, he immediately traded in his '92 for a '93
Dan began by doing the simple things first. "I did a cold-air intake and an after-cat exhaust system," he says. It just exploded from there. And in the process, he's whittled away his elapsed times from the 15s to mid-10s, with his sights set squarely on breaking into the 9s. All the while, the car has remained fully street-legal and smog-compliant. It's not even very loud until he really gets on it. The Camaro still has a full interior, a rocking stereo, and even air conditioning. His goal all along has been to create a functional, purposeful combination without fluff or excess. Dan sums it up best: "It's an ongoing project to have the best balance of show and go."