Bobby Culhane comes right out with it, no excuses: “I’ve changed the build so many times over the past 11 years that my Camaro has evolved while still staying modern. I wouldn’t change what I’ve done to it to change the memories I’ve had building my car.” In essence, the car has become him and vice-versa. In this day of “everything has a price,” Bobby Culhane reverts to a shady glen of his past. He wouldn’t loosen his grip on the Camaro if someone held a shotgun to his brow and began making angry noises. Brand loyalty fanatic? Passion run amok? You could say that.
Fact being that he’s just 29, Culhane’s good old days are not necessarily the same as other people’s. “I’ve been a die-hard Camaro enthusiast since I was six years old. So when the LT1 Camaro came out [’93 model year], I was head over heels and it quickly became my dream car,” Bobby confessed. “When I was 15, I was carrying around a Chilton’s LT1 F-body repair manual, and I didn’t even own a Camaro. I wanted to know everything about the car of my dream before I went and bought it.” At the time, Culhane was living in Greeley, Colorado, about 60 miles northeast of Denver. He has since moved to Surprise, Arizona.
Every time he went out, it seemed, he was catching glimpses of a specific 1994 Camaro Z28. Shortly afterward, Bobby traced it to the Chevy store in Greeley. It was indeed for sale. Then his golden egg fractured, spilling a horrendous yoke. “The car was in pretty rough shape, from door locks not working to exhaust dragging on the ground. The paint was dull. The window tint was purple and hanging off the glass. The driver side window track was broken and there was a scratch down the passenger side … from fender to the rear quarter panel. The Opti-Spark was dying. Stained carpets and seats and hacked up wires in the electrical system. Door panel clips were missing, or they were broken off. It had a bra and a high-rise spoiler,” Bobby decried.
Things didn’t always go so well. During the Camaro’s 11-year gestation, it sawed through 11 transmissions, 7 torque converters, and 5 sets of gears. In the end, the crashed equipment was more or less the product of nitrous oxide. Bobby: “Most people would have sold the car after all the issues I’ve gone through, but I never gave up on her.” That he is a custom fabricator/installer in real life mitigated some of the expense. His wife Deanna has always been deep in his corner. Even doing everything himself, save for the paint, transmission, and rear-axle work, Culhane’s got more time and loot in this fish than he wants to think about, but “all the struggles, cuts, and bruises along the way were well worth the outcome.”
Without regards to a particular discipline, Culhane simply built the car to satisfy what was in his mind’s eye. It’s clear that a small thermo-nuclear device in the engine bay was not his aim nor was it warranted. He wanted reliable oats. Turn the key and go down the road. Still, he maintains a fail-safe. He couched a 200hp Nitrous Express kit in the event of an emergency. He made a nice bed for the whirring parts to lie in, beginning with numerous bolt-on suspension pieces that include UMI sub-frame connectors, UMI tubular lower control arms and relocation brackets, Spohn tubular torque arm, Spohn 25mm rear antisway bar and a UMI 35mm front bar. Bobby wanted big rubber. He narrowed it all down to 18x10.5 C5 deep dish OE wheels carrying 295/35 BFG g-Force KDW Gen 1 in front and BFG 315/30 Drag Radials on the scratching out end. Mini-tubs were unnecessary. A judicious wheel offset and tires with the right diameter/section width were a dope fit, facilitated by Bobby with some creative massaging on the rear inner fender wells and rolled quarter-panel lips.