With the car in reasonable shape, it was time to start on the modifications, both appearance and performance. As James mentioned, "from the beginning I was set on building a Pro Touring car, but first and foremost I wanted to build a car that could be driven on the highway and on the track. I looked at events like the Silver State Classic and the One Lap of America, and knew that I wanted to build a first-gen that could represent well in competitions like those.
To me, the One Lap of America represents the ultimate test of performance, reliability, and drivability, so I decided to build the car to be competitive in North America's most challenging cross-country rally. To succeed, the car would need to balance power and performance with dependability. It would also need to have equal parts track and highway manners. After all, you're talking about a week-long race that incorporates 3,500 highway miles with road course, autocross, drag race, skid pad, and circle track elements."
As the build progressed, it began to take on a life of its own, and James fell into the "we've come this far, so we might as well ..." trap that we've all been sucked into. At one point James was so frustrated trying to fit front sheet metal that he gave up and pulled the NOS sheet metal off his wife's '67 project. The car fought him every step of the way, and eventually earned the nickname "tweak" since nothing seemed to fit, and just about every part had to be modified. One area where a lot of tweaking occurred was the inner fenders.
James explained, "We spent a lot of time on the inner fenders trying to incorporate the dry sump tank for the 427 LS engine. I think they have more sheetmetal modifications done to them than many complete cars I've built. The dry sump tank has been shielded from the front tire, the splash guards have been eliminated, and the entire area reshaped. Both the front and rear mounts have been relocated, and the entire inner corners were fabricated by hand. Likewise, the radiator support was extensively modified beyond the typical clean up.
The hood release was turned 90 degrees and converted to cable release. We made the decision to eliminate all of the requisite fender shims and, where needed, machined spacers to ensure near perfect fit and finish. For the lower valance I wanted to incorporate '69-style turn signals and wound up using two '67 valances and one off of a '69 to create something different, only with an OEM look. The front spoiler was based on a factory plastic piece, and retains the dimensions of the original.
We hand-fabricated it in the shop and, we feel it ties in well with the sheet metal rear spoiler." The subtle modifications continued, from the tow hook slyly poking out of the rear back up light, to the way the exhaust exits through the rear quarter panels. James didn't want his Camaro to loose its essence-he just wanted to put his own take on it.