Who: Mike Knopp
What: '67 Chevrolet Camaro RS
Where: Newbury Park, California, a community in the city of Thousand Oaks.
Mike bought this car from a high school friend in 1997, and at the time it had your standard 350 small-block and a Muncie four-speed transmission. That served Mike for a couple of years until he could afford the engine he wanted: an aluminum Merlin 502 big-block. Even then, he ran that engine naturally aspirated and with a carburetor until he had the additional funds for the current setup-fuel injection and a supercharger. As it sits today, the Merlin block contains a Crower Enduro crank, JE 8.90:1 pistons, and a custom-ground Comp solid roller cam with 260/264 degrees duration and 0.644 lift. The AFR cylinder heads have 335cc intake runners and are fully CNC ported. Mike shipped the heads to Swain Tech Coatings in Scottsville, New York, to have the combustion chambers, exhaust ports, and the faces of the valves treated to a thermal barrier coating. The stainless steel intake valves measure 2.30, while the exhaust valves measure 1.88 and are made of Inconel alloy. The springs are from Crower, and the roller rocker arms are from Comp. A Cloyes Hex-A-Just timing set, Cometic gaskets, and ARP fasteners round out the long-block. JG Motorsports machined the block, and Mike assembled everything.
The biggest piece of eye candy under the hood is the ProCharger D1-R centrifugal supercharger and is driven by an eight-rib serpentine belt. It shoves air through a 1,000-cfm throttle body and into a Merlin single-plane intake manifold that Mike had modified to accommodate the port fuel-injection system.
Seeking driveability and tuneability, Mike made the switch to a FAST XFI electronic fuel injection. This is a sequential system that incorporates 85-lb/hr fuel injectors and wideband oxygen sensors. Mike tuned the car to run on pump gas, and an Aeromotive Eliminator fuel pump keeps up with the hungry big-block's demands.
Sparks are provided by an MSD HVC II coil and a FAST Dual Sync distributor. An MSD Digital 6 ignition box controls the show. For the sake of a clean-looking engine compartment, Mike stashed the controller in the glovebox.
Those are a pair of Lemons headers that were custom-fitted to the car. Mike told us the guys at Lemons would ship tack-welded headers to him, he'd bolt them on, take pictures of any clearance problems, and ship the headers back to Lemons for adjustments until they fit perfectly. He had them thermal-coated also. The remainder of the exhaust system consists of custom-bent 3-inch tubes and Flowmaster Delta 50 mufflers that are surprisingly quiet until Mike rolls past half-throttle.
Yes, we were wondering, too. Mike guesses this combination makes about 825 hp and 800 lb-ft. This isn't exactly a drag-race car, so he doesn't have any timeslips to back up those guesses. To any doubters out there, you should have seen this thing take off after the photo shoot: 825 is probably a pretty accurate guess.
Mike beefed up the driveline to cope with 800 lb-ft. A TKO-600 transmission has proved worthy so far, as has the Centerforce dual-friction clutch and Ram aluminum flywheel. A Lakewood scattersheld protects Mike from shrapnel in case it does grenade. Continuing on, he employs an aluminum Inland Empire driveshaft and a 12-bolt rear containing Richmond 3.42:1 gears, a limited-slip differential, and Moser axles.
A Detroit Speed and Engineering coilover conversion drastically improves the Camaro's front suspension geometry. The kit consists of Koni shocks and 650-lb/in springs. To that, Mike added a pair of Global West upper control arms, Del-a-lum bushings, and a Hotchkis sway bar. Koni shocks are out back, as are a pair of Global West leaf springs and CalTracs traction bars.
Mike switched over to Baer disc brakes way back when he first bought the car. The front rotors measure 13 inches and are gripped by a pair of two-piston calipers. Single-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors reside in the back.
Those are 17x8-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs on all four corners. The tires are BFGoodrich G-Force KDWs and measure 245/ 45R17 front and 255/40R17 rear.
We like the fact that Mike kept the interior mostly stock. He redid the seats with the Deluxe upholstery and did a great job integrating a full set of Auto Meter Phantom gauges into the stock dash and console.
Believe it or not, the glimmering black paintjob is a full decade old, but it looked to us like the car had just rolled out of the paint booth. Russ Stevenson of Gold Coast Customs in Ventura, California, is the guilty party responsible for fooling our expert paint and body eyes.