Published: 06-Oct-2011 16:43
Mild-mannered street car during the week, smoke-billowing race car on the weekends.
Booted… would be the best way to describe how this 1969 RS/SS Camaro was when it came into Tristan Teki’s possession. But since it was an RS/SS and since the seller was a good mate who was willing to do a deal on it, an agreement was made and it soon changed hands.
Tristan has been playing with cars for as long as he can remember, and in his time he’s owned more old Holdens than he’d care to think about. Over the years he’s taught himself how to do pretty much everything car-related. From panelwork to fabrication to mechanical work, he can do the lot, and generally does so along with help from various mates. And since he’d developed the skills required to turn a car from a rust bucket to a race car, that’s exactly what he decided to do.
With help from fellow Wanganui Road Rodders member Dean Scott, the rusted-out floors were chopped out and new ones stitched in. Along with this came the replacement of both rear quarters, the rear valance panel and both doors. As if that wasn’t enough to put most people off, the panels that weren’t rusted out were dented, so not a single panel could be left untouched.
While the panelwork was going on, Tristan constructed an 8-point roll cage, as the eventual goal for the car was to run in Group 2 of the Central Muscle Car class.
With the knowledge that he needed plenty of power, but reliability, to be competitive, Tristan headed to Proparts in Palmerston North with a massive shopping list. A Dart Little M block was the key item required for the engine build, along with an Eagle rotating assembly.
It must have been like Christmas in the Teki household when he got to unwrap his purchases, as there was box after box of parts to complete the engine build, including Dart Pro 1 heads, a bunch of MSD ignition gear and a Barry Grant fuel system.
Being a jack-of-all-trades, Tristan did as much as he could on the build, but left the engine building work up to Grant Rivers from Rivers Speed and Spares, who also happens to be Dean’s boss. While the engine hasn’t been on the dyno at all, Grant estimates it’s making between 650-700hp, and from what we’ve seen of it on the track, that sounds about right to us.
That power is sent to the track via a Tremec 5-speed gearbox, heavy duty paddle clutch and a 12-bolt Chev diff. Inside the stock diff-housing is a Richmond gear set, as well as Richmond c-clip eliminators.
Besides the engine build, the only other outsourced work was the painting, which was taken care of by Rod Skelnars at Rod’s Repairs. Which is not a bad effort considering how cool the final product is, and considering the whole build took just 12 months.
One of the things that attracted Tristan to CMC was the wild tail-out driving style of many of the other drivers, and with Tristan winning many burnout comps in the past, he’s shown he’s more than willing to destroy a bit of rubber. On the Camaro that rubber is in the form of class regulation Kumho V700 in 255/40R17 and 275/40R17 sizes. For dry tracks, the Kumho’s are wrapped around 17×8 and 17×9-inch Boyd Coddington rims. Come a wet race surface and the Boyd’s are swapped for Foose Legends and 235/45R17 Toyo tyres. They may not sound like lightweight race wheels, but seem to be holding up to the task so far.
Whereas Tristan’s Monaro has been built to lose traction as often as possible, the Camaro has been fitted with a mix of Koni adjustable shocks and heavy duty springs in an attempt to keep the rubber on the track. A custom-built panhard rod, along with an oversize swaybar, round out the setup.
With initial lap times of 1 min 17 sec around Manfeild, it looks like both the car and Tristan have what it takes to be competitive. Helping in that regard is a unique brake package that sees HSV 2-pot front callipers fitted to the rear of the Camaro. With vented 300mm rotors, it’s not a bad setup, although it has required the handbrake to be converted from a cable to a hydraulic operation. Up front are 4-pot Wilwood’s along with 330mm rotors. With Tristan’s penchant for killing tyres, we’re almost surprised he hasn’t tried the hydraulic handbrake to assist with a bit of drifting… well, that we are aware of at least.
Tristan saw no need to make the interior pretty, just functional, and with most of the interior trim removed, besides the seats, that’s exactly what it is. A custom switch panel and a bunch of gauges have been added out of necessity more than anything else.
To date he’s only entered a couple of CMC rounds, due to being busy with his role as President of Wanganui Road Rodders as well as his Monaro, and more recently, his supercharged small block-powered bus/tow vehicle. Plans are in place though to run the full season coming, and from what we’ve seen of his driving style so far, one thing is for sure – even if he’s not winning, he’ll be the one the crowd is watching, and the car will be the one with the most tyre smoke billowing off the back.
For more photos and full specifications, visit the NZV8 website.