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1963 Pontiac LeMans - Pontiac Attack

Damion Campbell’s '63 Pontiac LeMans

By , Photography by

If a meteorite filled with aliens crash-landed on the racetrack, it would have garnered less attention than this Pontiac. If you want to talk about sights, sounds, and smells of a truly bitchin' street machine that is stripped down and functional, Damion Campbell's Pontiac has it all.

We spotted the beast hunched in a corner at the Real Street Eliminator staging area at the Car Craft Summer Nationals in St Paul, Minnesota. It was sitting unnaturally low with an unusual shade of green paint and big, big meats. We got closer and noticed the Dzus fasteners on the front end and the no-nonsense interior. The Pontiac emblem sealed the deal. We had to know more.

Damion Campbell is an elevator technician who has been building cars out of his garage for the past 20 years. He claims that his rides have always been different, even though the list includes several muscle-car–era Chevelles and prewar street rods and trucks. He also notes that he thought of building a muscle car that handles before he knew about Pro Touring events such as the RSE. When he began looking at Corvettes and thinking about turning corners, he discovered a world of guys with the same idea. He also discovered his ideas were truly just a little bit different. But instead of a Corvette, he started his build with a cast-off drag car.

"When I found this car, it was half-built," Damion says. "It had a 2x3 chassis under it, but the bodywork was bad and things didn't fit." Damion slowly moved the car from drag racer to autocrosser by changing the rear suspension to a triangulated three-link, reworking the front suspension, and adding big wheels and tires after completing the wheeltubs and tinwork.

It didn't have an engine, but Damion did. The small-block and Tremec five- speed transmission were bolted in the car, and it was slammed on the ground and fitted with any fiberglass pieces he could find. Then he went racing.

"After I built it, I started competing in events," Damion says. "I raced at the Optima Battery Faceoff and got an invitation to go to SEMA and race the Invitational. I had a great summer with this car."

It took a year to sort it out and get it running, and it is driven "almost daily" to work and to school to pick up the kids. "I think this car is going to get handed down to my son," he says, "then I will build another car that is better and faster."

Tech Notes
Who: Damion Campbell
What: '63 Pontiac LeMans
Where: Mukwonago, WI
Engine: Yup, it's a small-block Chevy. Even Pontiac guys will concede that Pontiac engines aren't exactly Pro Touring material. The Chevy has a 3.75-inch Eagle crank and Mahle pistons for a stone-reliable 383 inches with a pump-juice friendly 10.0:1 compression ratio. The cam is a Comp mechanical roller with 252/258 duration at 0.050 and 0.630 lift on a 106 LSA. The heads are AFR 220s with a CNC port job. It makes 490 hp at 6,500 and 380 lb-ft of torque. Jones Racing supplied the alternator, water pump, and power-steering pulleys.
Transmission: The five-speed is a Tremec TKO 600 with a McLeod RST Street Twin clutch and scattershield.
Rearend: In the back is a Moser 9-inch with floating axles and a 4.10:1 gear ratio with an Eaton Detroit Truetrac limited-slip.
Suspension: The tubular front suspension is from Art Morrison with QA1 triple adjustable shocks and HyperCo front springs. The rear suspension is a custom three-ink assembled by Damion. It also uses HyperCo springs and QA1 adjustable shocks. The power rack is from Sweet Manufacturing, and the rear sway bar is from Ride Tech.
Brakes: The brakes are 11-inch Wilwood Forged Dynalite Pros front and rear.
Wheels/Tires: Mini tubs in the rear and no front inner fenders allowed Damion to get 17x9.5- and 17x11-inch Rushforth wheels and 275 and 315/35-ZR17 Nitto NT05 tires under the body.
Paint/Body: The color is GM Forest Green from 1969. The fiberglass nose is from VFN Fiberglass in Addison, Illinois.
Interior: There isn't a lot going on inside. The seats are from Kirkey, and the dash is a RacePak. Ron Francis handled the wiring, and Impact! is onboard for safety.
Cool Stuff: This car finished Fourth overall in our Real Street Eliminator contest at the Car Craft Summer Nationals. It is fun to see it in person.

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95 comments
Ryan Buck
Ryan Buck

Great write up on your former car Damion. I hop to see you at RSE again.

Matthew Hazelwood
Matthew Hazelwood

Easy to mistake a 63 lemans/tempest for a 64. One of my favorites!

Car Craft Magazine
Car Craft Magazine

Tim Liscum, check out the link we provided in the post. We have the full feature car and its details there...

Damion Campbell
Damion Campbell

If you know what a stock 63 Lemans is like, there would be no way to drive it on a road race track.. This car was a lot of fun last year..

Gary Gosselin
Gary Gosselin

Come on guys..63 pontiac tempest/lemans. Think this car was flat black for a while. Not much original left. Sweet ride though.

Donald Nixon
Donald Nixon

I think it is a dodge dart with a 440 hemi windsor or a wedge engine Engine not motor a motor belong on a lawn mower not in a

Erin Carlson
Erin Carlson

I fall in love with this car more and more every time I see it!!

John Pullaro
John Pullaro

How could such an ugly color look so awesome?

Justin McLendon
Justin McLendon

Personally I'd go with a steel IMCA D Hole style wheel, but this looks great as well!

John Grossl
John Grossl

Very nice. Seems like I saw a black Lemans i in a magazine a few years back that had well over a thousand HP

Henry Frederick
Henry Frederick

GM tried this and look where Pontiac is now..long live Pontiac

John Lyons
John Lyons

How about a car that DOESN'T have a Chevy swapped into it!

John Lyons
John Lyons

And they are bored .030 over I believe. May be off on the over bore but they are a larger bore than 4.000

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