When the guys at Unrestricted Motorsports in Phoenix, Arizona, built their first fifth-gen Camaro, they knew their next one would be a hard act to follow. Their ’10 design made GM’s SEMA Project Car Top 12 but fell just shy of earning them a partner car.
Rejection be damned, Unrestricted’s team built it anyway and showed up at SEMA in 2009 when no one was expecting them.
“We wanted to do something that was unique,” team leader Scott Schweda said. “Designing our own body kit instead of using someone else’s parts drove us to fulfill the dream of the first build.”
But they also wanted GM to notice. GM responded with an invitation to the ’10 Chicago Auto Show, while Optima Batteries selected Unrestricted’s Comp 475 to compete in its Ultimate Street Car Invitational in Pahrump, Nevada.
First success under their belt, it was time for the guys at Unrestricted to up the ante for a new SEMA design. The team originally chose the Comp name, short for competition, to embody a series of performance-driven vehicles with styling strong enough to match the horsepower under the hood.
In order to prevent a one-hit-wonder reputation, the ’11 Camaro design would need to live up to its Comp name. The V-8 market for performance parts was plentiful, but many would-be V-8 owners just couldn’t afford to own one. The sobering economic reality turned out to be a potential niche and the key inspiration for Unrestricted’s new design.
The team asked one simple question: How could practical performance be more accessible to fifth-gen V-6 owners? Redesign the body kit to make an LS or LT look like a V-8, and give a V-6 the power of a V-8 with a turbocharger. Inner beauty would match outer beauty in the new Comp 6.
While Unrestricted went for full production of their body kit the year before, they opted for the scaled-back approach of a prototype this time.
“It was more about presenting newer design parts out there to gain interest,” Scott explained. And, he adds, “It was a less expensive car to build.”
But would GM be interested in a smaller market segment? GM rewarded the risk by selecting Unrestricted Motorsports’ Comp 6 for one of its ’11 SEMA partner cars. Now it was a matter of executing the build. With the team members now living in two different states, it wouldn’t be easy. Especially since Scott — though experienced with design — was a novice with fiberglass and carbon fiber.
The Comp 6 body kit included a re-styled front fascia with an added lip spoiler that flowed seamlessly with the lines of the existing Comp series side skirts. Since the V-6 wouldn’t produce as much heat as a V-8, Scott closed off the two center vents in the Comp series cowl hood while keeping the side extractors to allow for some engine cooling. The rest of the kit included a one-piece rear deck spoiler and urethane rear bumper insert without exhaust cutouts.
Creating a clean look while keeping up with a current trend, Unrestricted opted for a white paint scheme with a nose-to-rear carbon-fiber stripe. BC Racing Wheels completed the look with custom-colored white lip rims with matte-black centers. Scott wanted the sharp contrast to accentuate the car’s bodylines and shadows with the carbon fiber, adding a depth that black paint alone couldn’t touch.
The colors seemed to fit the car’s name. Scott christened the car Athena after the Greek goddess of wisdom, battle, and craftsmanship. Little did he know how much all three would come into play during the build.
Taking design concept to reality turned out to be a bigger challenge than Scott anticipated. It was time to call in reinforcements. In this case, it was longtime friend Brian Ipema, owner of Contour Machining Company in Mesa, Arizona. Brian provided the workspace and additional help when the build came down to the wire.
“Anybody doing a SEMA car has a short time frame,” Brian said, acknowledging that getting every detail just right was one of the hardest parts. “We’re doing custom work while trying to give everything an OEM quality and look.”
Three weeks and three designs later, Scott finally had his race-inspired front fascia when he incorporated brake ducts that flanked the front fog light openings, creating visual edge with functionality.
Unrestricted Motorsports enlisted Carbon by Design out of Oceanside, California, to complete the overlay stripe on the hood, roof, trunk, and spoiler. The Carbon Guys also added some black beauty under the hood with a carbon-fiber inlay on Unrestricted’s modified factory engine cover, which was completed with a white paintjob that mimicked the body.
Inside the Comp 6, details were shaping up nicely. Scott installed custom gauges from Speedhut and Barton Industries’ short-throw shifter with customized shifter ball. The Carbon Fiber Specialists wrapped the side view mirrors, center-console cluster, dash inserts, seat panels, and door panels with a carbon-fiber overlay. Unique AZ created custom white leather seat inserts and the Comp 6 embroidered headrests.
Since the cornerstone of the Comp 6 design was stealth power, it only made sense that this Camaro would offer some protection against speeding tickets. Escort Radar’s Passport 9500 ci detector more than met this need, with GPS technology that identifies the source and location of all radar detectors.
To provide a smooth ride, Scott fitted the Camaro with BC Racing’s Q-04 coilovers, along with BMR Suspension’s sway bars, trailing arms, tie rods, and polyurethane bushing kit.
Prior to paint, Scott and Brian test-fitted the heart of the Comp 6’s power: the V-6 rear-mounted turbo from STS Turbo that would add 150-plus horsepower, thus bringing the snappy V-6 up to 351 hp at 5600 rpm and 347 lb-ft at the same rpm range. Instead of installing the turbo piping in smaller sections, the team created one continuous pipe that ran from front to rear before it was custom ceramic-coated in matte black. Scott and Brian also had to redesign the rear bumper due to where the turbo mounted, a problem solved thanks to GM’s GFX rear insert.
Following this final modification and paint, Scott finished with a final detail that he’d been working on since the Comp 6’s design conception: a customized logo based on the current fifth-gen Camaro nameplate.
Though portions of his Camaro build were tough, Scott has found that he’s wiser for it.
“No matter how much you plan, things never entirely go the way you think they will,” Scott said. “What matters is how you find the solutions.”
Strategic shifts made and building battle scars healed, Scott’s Comp 6 named Athena taught him a few things about strategy and what it takes to craft a ’11 Camaro whose power is matched by its beauty.