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Unread 08-06-2015, 11:55 AM
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Fair! Fair! is offline
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Default Vorshlag Build Thread - 69 Camaro Pro Touring/Track Car

Project Introduction August 6th, 2015: This one is a bit unusual for Vorshlag - a Pro Touring build. Yes, this is the first classic Detroit iron we've done up to this level. No, we're not selling out and trying to cash in on a "new trend" - I grew up building and driving 60s-70s F-bodies, Mustangs and Mopars. They were great looking cars with good drivetrains but had pretty terrible brakes, suspensions and chassis. I have watched the Pro Touring trend evolve from day 1 (BigRedCamaro) and have been waiting patiently to build one with more of a performance slant than a show car.

This customer came to us with his 69 Camaro project because he thought we had the skills that best fit his needs. This will be no ordinary Pro Touring show car / Cars & Coffee queen, but a real deal track beast with giant Hoosier tires, big aero, and LS V8 power. Sounds a lot like what we do, but it needs serious safety gear and custom everything to work well.

Quick picture from where we are now on this build, in August 2015, when we launched this build thread

We've been working on this car now for about three months and this has turned into something pretty amazing, and I cannot wait to see what the end result looks like. Many people have commented after seeing the car in person or the few pics we've shown that they wanted to see a build thread. So let's get caught up on the progress, starting at the beginning - when the customer found us. I will start this forum build thread with the first post showing the tear down and some of the new frame work, and follow up with more progress in upcoming posts.

Picking A Shop Is Important

Earlier in 2015 we had a customer contact us about finishing a build he had started at two previous shops, which will remain unnamed. He came to our open house event in February 2015 to check us out in person, see some of the work we've done on customer cars, and get a feel for our shop - to see if we might be able to deliver what he wants.

He focused a lot of his attention on a 2013 Mustang GT (below left) road race car and silver Subaru Land Speed Racer (below right) that were in our shop that day, with recent work completed by Vorshlag. The owners of several cars we have built were also in our shop so he could talk to multiple customers face to face.

This type of research is smart, because not enough customers really check the background and skills of the shop building their dream car. They might hear about some shop that a friend says "check this place out", then without much further investigation they drop off their car and hope for the best. Well, this guy didn't take our word for it - he came to our shop when several customers and their cars we built were there and learned a lot.

I watched this video recently where shop owner Vinny Ten said these things - that customers need to research the shops they work with - and I hadn't really thought about this much before. Sometimes customers want to blame others for their poor planning and bad decisions, but Vinny says its partially their fault for not researching the shop that did the work.

Luckily this 69 Camaro customer did his home work - and after he researched Vorshlag he brought the car up to us for a look, along with a truckload of parts, back in April 2015. We looked over it, made a list of recommendations and changes, had some good discussions with the owner about intended use and concerns, gave him some detailed estimates, and work got underway in May. Here's what we've been up to...

Note: Most of the pictures in this forum thread were shot by our shop manager, Brad, and most of the work so far has been completed by one of our fabricators, Ryan. Our whole shop has been involved in researching and selecting components, ordering parts, in discussions about safety and layout, Jason and I have had engineering input on many aspects, etc - its always a team effort here. If a photo looks noticeably ugly, though, I most likely shot it with my #potatocam on my phone or my old Nikon DSLR.

New Direction + Inspection

There were a number of significant changes in this build when it came to Vorshlag, many of which entailed removing previous work and starting over. We quoted the hours to re-do the frame, floor, cage and more, and we have stayed on our time budget so far.

We noted a lot of things that needed to be changed to comply with safety, classing and engineering standards for what the customer had in mind, which was serious HPDE and Time Trial use. I won't go into all of that, other than the list was detailed, extensive, and we re-used as many parts that were applicable.

We all liked what he had in mind, and were eager to get started. We had to finish another project first, but that was soon done and we began on this '69 Camaro in May of 2015.

The car rolled into our shop as a semi-built rolling chassis. The amount of tear down shown below may seem excessive, but there wasn't a single piece of the old car cut out that wasn't done for a good reason. I'm not going to get mired in knocking down the work done to this car before it got to our shop - I'm just showing what we did - but I might mention our reasoning here or there.

Beginning of Tear Down

We had agreed upon a course of action with our client and he had signed off on all of the changes we had in mind. We told the owner that to get the car back to a rolling chassis that was safe/competitive/reliable would likely take a certain number of hours of tear down and rework, which was approved. When Ryan was freed up from another cage build, he was ready to tear into the Camaro and he jumped right into action. Tear down is chronicled in the short 24 second time lapse video below, taken on 5/11/15.

Time Lapse Video of Day 1 of Tear Down

The engine and trans were removed and the existing roll cage was cut out. Its painful to remove parts and work that has been completed, but a necessary step in order to move forward. We really "ripped the Baind-Aid off" on day 1, heh.

The front subframe was removed, with an eye towards possibly re-using this section. It was a name brand 1st gen F-body subframe designed for C6 Corvette control arms, hubs and uprights, then modified heavily for this car. We see them on lots of Pro Touring builds and assumed it probably had decent geometry (which we would later check).

This car had a custom floor and frame built to replace the OEM floor and unibody structure, but for various reasons it all had to go. Ryan used plasma cutter, saws-all, and other tools to get these pieces out over the course of a few days.

Once he started on this Camaro we couldn't get him to stop - he was having too much fun. Of course we cannot work on one car non-stop for months, and Ryan split his time on other customer work here and there, but a lot of time was logged on the '69 from May through July.

The rear frame rails and trunk floor were also removed, all of which was off-the-shelf kits adapted to this car previously. The deconstruction totaled only 16 billable hours for the steps shown above. The 2x4" rear frame rails that were previously installed on the car were only 1/4" thick (see below) in long horizontal sections near the inboard sections of the rear tires. With 345mm Hoosiers and their cornering loads transferred to the frame in these narrowed sections, we had concerns, so all of that came out.

The solid rear axle housing was a big beefy custom Ford 9" unit (below) with lots of extras, and we would end up re-using that for the build. It had no "guts" (bearings, seals, axles, gears, or diff) so we would be ordering all of that later. The front and rear shocks were only "mock-up" shocks, made for eye-to-eye mounts and with a pin to change the length during chassis setup. Handy things to have when you are building a car from scratch. After a few days of loud cutting and flying sparks later it was ready to begin reconstruction - all of this happened very fast.

New Frame

To stick with the same frame section sizes used in the bolt-on front subframe (that had been welded to the center frame section) we stuck with the 2x3" rectangular tubing for the center section of the new frame we would be building. This would make it possible to mate it all up at the firewall. Its a good size of tubing to use in any case.

We ordered up more of the 2x3" tubing as well as several other sizes of square and round tube for various fixtures or frame pieces that needed to be constructed. At the same time a pair of mandrel bent "over the axle" 2x4" tubing rear frame sections were ordered. Then the tedious work of fitting the side frame rails into the Camaro rockers was undertaken, which meant more cutting, but with more refinement and measuring involved...

The previous 2x3" frame sections were placed several inches inboard of the outer rocker panels. This meant the old roll cage tubes didn't line up with the frame rails. Our new goal was to "pocket" the inner structure of the exterior lower rockers and move the new 2x3" frame tubing outboard. This would allow the new frame rails to "nest" inside the outer portion of the lower rocker panels. The new frame would be several inches wider and would allow the new roll cage to move outboard and land on these 2x3" frame members directly, which would make for a safer roll cage and a more efficient overall structure.

As the work to fit for the new frame to the body progressed, more and more of the previous fabrication work was removed. I could write a book about the missing welds, poor engineering, and shoddy fab work we have seen on many cars that enter our little shop, but it isn't worth the down sides. It seems if I say anything negative about anything ever built, I end up being the bad guy, so I'll just say "lots of stuff was removed", and that we "only removed what was inappropriate for this type of build."

Before the entire frame and some interior chassis structures were cut away, temporary bracing was added to keep the outer body panels square. These tack welded tubes (shown above) will be removed as the new frame structure is added.

There were some hours spent making room for the 2x3" frame rails out in the rocker sections (tack welded in place, above), but it was worth it to be able to get the cage mounted more outboard than it was before. This work gained several valuable inches, room needed to keep the tubes from being where the seat needed to be, to keep cage away from the driver's head.

Once the frame rails were mocked-up on the chassis, measurements were taken and a flat and sturdy structure was built onto our 4x8 foot heavy duty welding table. Its not really a "frame table" that I'd like, but for our limited shop space, it works. Then the frame rails were removed from the Camaro tub and placed onto the table structure at the right width... then the body was lifted onto the frame rails, set onto those, and re-tack welded in place.

More Next Time

This work shown above was completed by about May 20th, and this tear-down is as good a time as any to stop this project thread installment. I'll show more of the frame table work next time.

Thanks for reading,

Last edited by Fair!; 12-31-2015 at 11:47 AM.
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