Within this definition, many Pro Touring cars are built strictly to create the image with 16- to 18-inch tires and wheels and massive brakes on all four corners. Combined with a lowered stance, that generally is enough to qualify for Pro Touring status.
Beyond the strictly bolt-on effort however, is a whole segment of Pro Touring cars whose owners are not afraid to run them-hard! You see them at track days at major road courses like Road Atlanta, Road America in Wisconsin, Willow Springs near Rosamond, California, and Thunder Hill in Northern California. While most of these events are merely opportunities to run your car hard on a road course, it points out that a healthy portion of Pro Touring machines has more than highway cruising as their target goal.
There are actually many similarities between Pro Street and Pro Touring in that the line between street car and race car is constantly blurred. The move toward faster road course cars calls for less weight, softer compound tires, and more durable drivetrains-all of which are similar to what the ultimate Pro Streeter would want for an 8-second dragstrip pass.
Manual transmissions are also virtually a necessity for the ultimate Pro Touring car. Tremec has just released a new, stronger version of the TKO five-speed that can handle up to 600 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to make a serious statement on the highway. While you certainly can use an automatic overdrive in a Pro Touring car, maximizing the fun factor and lap times on a road course will require a durable manual transmission. The Tremec T-56 and the Richmond six-speeds are both excellent transmissions that offer overdrive ratios to make highway cruising more pleasant.
Suspensions are the buzz right now in Pro Touring with front and rear coilover shocks and independent rear suspension conversions the latest rage. Companies like Paul Newman Chassis Creations have been building C4 Corvette IRS chassis conversions for several years for the '55-'57 Chevys and early solid rear axle Corvettes, but you can expect to see these ideas appear for first-generation Camaros. In fact, Wayne Due's Chassis Shop, which also does tubular front clips for early Camaros and Firebirds, is working on just such an IRS effort for these cars. For front suspensions, Campbell Auto Restoration in Campbell, California builds an amazing front clip for these early F-cars. There are also several companies like Global West Suspension building conversion kits for early Mustangs and many other popular cars.
ConclusionIf we were backed into a corner and forced to choose one car, the logical choice would have to be the car that performs at a greater level in more areas-which is the Pro Touring car. But as in Roger Conley's case, you can have it both ways. The beauty of car crafting is that there are no rules.
Pro Street Camaro
Car: '68 Pro Street Camaro
Owner: Roger Conley
Engine: 540ci big-block Chevy, Bow Tie block, steel crank
Heads: Brodix -2 heads
Induction: Gregg Davis sheetmetal intake, 160-lb/hr Bosch injectors, Big Stuff 3 engine management system
Transmission: Jeffco four-speed planetary trans, L&T twin 10-inch clutch, Inland Empire driveshaft,
Rearend: Extreme Engineering and Fabrication 9-inch, Lenco 35-spline Detroit Locker, 4.10 gears
Front suspension: Full round tubing chromoly chassis by Nates Race Cars, Sunthuff front strut suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, Wilwood front discs
Rear suspension: Four-link rear suspension with track bar, Sunthuff rear coilovers, Wilwood rear disc brakes
Wheels & tires: 26x7.50x15-inch M/T on spindle-mount Weld Magnum wheels front; 34.5x17x16-inch M/T ET Street tires mounted on 16x16-inch bead lock Weld Magnum wheels, rear
Power-adder: Two large 74mm Precision Turbo hairdryers with Tial wastegates and a Griffin air-to-air intercooler
Interior: Sheetmetal work by Victory Race Cars, powdercoating by Concept Powder Coating, RacePak Pro digital dash