If less is more, someone had better tell Tony Etheridge — his 1967 Camaro is well and truly over the top
What the f*** is that? It’s usually the first question Tony Etheridge gets asked when he arrives somewhere in his tubbed, blown, chopped and bagged Camaro. “It’s hard to get out of the car sometimes, as people are all over it, wanting to know what it is and just trying to get a better look at it. I love it; you meet so many great people by going anywhere in it,” he says.
In The Beginning
Tony’s search for a new project began around three and a half years ago, and after much looking locally and on the internet, he couldn’t find a car he was happy with. That was until long-time friend Wayne Hall, of Wholesale Imports, found the car on eBay.
The roof had already been chopped three inches, the back half of the chassis had been replaced and the car tubbed. “I knew straight away this was the car for me, it just looked so wild.”
Undertaking a roof chop on a vehicle of this shape would be a challenging task, even for the most advanced metalworker, but the job done has been done flawlessly, to the point that many people don’t even notice until it’s pointed out. This may have quite a lot to do with the other more obvious aspects of the custom bodywork, such as the fact a late model Corvette rear end has been grafted on, and those opinion-polarising side skirts. These mods, along with the removal of the front bumper and installation of a custom front grille, were all performed by the previous owner, meaning that once Tony landed the car from the US, all he had to do was give it a quick coat of Standox Real Black paint, get it on the road and hey presto, he had a cool cruiser.
But he’s not one to see a vehicle as finished, and the next three years have seen the Camaro morph from something wild into something truly insane.
“Back when I bought it, 15-inch Convo Pros were cool, but these days it’s all about big wheels and little tyres, so while up in the States I decided to buy some bigger wheels,” Tony says. “I had them fitted to the car, but since it was winter no one had seen it. The next thing I know is everyone was going crazy about James Flynn’s Camaro article (NZV8 #32), so I was a bit gutted that I didn’t get the car out a bit earlier.”
The rims in question measure a massive 20 x 16–inches at the rear, with a far more normal 18 x 6–inches up front. As the car was already back-halved at purchase, the wheels fitted straight into the existing tubs. However, fitting them did create — or at least expose — one problem: the stock rear brakes. On a car like this, drum brakes draw all the wrong sort of attention.
But before sorting the anchors, Tony had a different plan, and that was to distract attention from the drums with a supercharged motor.
For the majority of the time Tony has owned the car, it has had a carburetted engine setup. However, recently the decision was made to change it to fuel injection. “I helped Dean [Cadman] out with his Willys coupe (NZV8 #39) and learnt a bit more about injection setups, and decided to fit one to the car. Dean’s is an older analogue style, and I saw the problems he was having with it, so decided it had to be computer–controlled.”
As Steve Hildred had already built the 468ci big block with a bunch of indestructible internals, the engine itself remained unchanged. However, on top now sits a SuperChiller intercooler originally destined for a friend’s Chev truck. Above this is a billet 6/71 supercharger, and atop that a Hilborn EFI twin throttle body setup. So far Tony has done his own tuning with help from Mike Ekdahl at Diesel and Turbo, though he admits doing his own tuning has been a learning experience. “I took it to Meremere but had problems with a blocked fuel filter, then the O2 sensor was not working, so it ran a best of 11.7 at 114mph; there’s plenty more to come though. The 60-foot and half-track times indicate the car is well on its way into the 10-second zone.”
Despite Tony’s drag strip efforts, the Camaro is only really intended to be a street car, and despite the blown big block aggressively idling away up front, the engine stays remarkably cool in traffic. It wasn’t always this well–behaved, but since a large alloy radiator with full shroud and twin 12-inch fans has been fitted, the car hasn’t missed a beat.
Forward momentum is taken care of by a reverse pattern, full manual valve body TH400 trans with 2500rpm stall. Further down the driveline is a Fab9 rear end custom–assembled with a Detroit locker and Williams axles by Golly.
With the new diff setup came those much needed brakes, both front and rear. Aerospace Industries rotors and callipers now take pride of place and work just as well as they look, which is very well indeed.
Sorting The Stance
It’s often difficult to get a car on big wheels sitting right, but Tony knew it would be wrong to have such a custom-looking car sitting up high off the ground. He experimented with airbag setups, finally settling on Air Ride air struts on all four corners. The system has three settings, one being as low as can be, one as high as possible and one at optimum ride height.
Even with the big wheels out back, Tony insists the car handles better on the airbags than it did on standard-style suspension. “It’s all about getting the setup right,” he says. “I’ve raced quad bikes for years and played with a lot of suspension settings. If done wrong bags are horrible, but when done right they’re great.”
One of the few problems with the car when it was purchased was head room in the interior. Camaros aren’t known to be tall vehicles to begin with, so having 3–inches sliced out of the top created trouble.
To make the car comfortable to drive, Tony cut the front floor section out and had Ian Scott of Panelcraft stitch in a new recessed floor to allow the seats to rest lower. With the Recaro pews now sitting firmly on the lowered floor, there’s as much head room in the car as in any other vehicle of a similar generation.
The rest of the interior is just as modified; you won’t find a surface that hasn’t been retrimmed or customised in some way, shape or form. For example, the roof lining features a very cool custom layered-type effect, while a custom rear seat has been fitted around the huge wheel tubs. Admittedly it’s not designed for tall people, but at events such as Beach Hop it allows the whole family to cruise in relative comfort.
To either side of the rear seat passengers is a Kicker 10-inch subwoofer, the placement necessitated as the large tubs and fuel cell take up much of the boot space.
The high quality, full-on audio system extends throughout the car, with two pairs of speakers on each door and no fewer than four amplifiers powering the system.
There is no doubt that this is the country’s most outrageous street car, with every possible aspect being heavily modified in one way or another. So is the car finished? Apparently not. There’s talk of a bigger engine, and, being in the paint supply industry, Tony thinks it’s about time the car got a vibrant paint job to match the rest of the vehicle’s characteristics.
At this stage he’s not sure exactly what form that paint job will take, but I’d bet my house on it that it won’t be subtle. Tony wouldn’t have it any other way.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro – Specifications
Vehicle: 1967 Chev Camaro
Engine: 468ci (7669cc) big block Chev, four-bolt mains, block stud kitted, steel crank, Eagle rods, JE pistons, roller cam, cast big port open chamber heads, roller rockers, 6/71 supercharger, intercooler, Hilborn EFI unit, FAST ECU, Hooker headers into three-inch pipe, twin Flowmaster mufflers, custom tail pipe, large aluminium custom-made radiator with full shroud, twin 12-inch fans, smoothed firewall
Driveline: TH400, reverse pattern manual valve body, billet input shaft, 2500rpm converter, custom-built Fab9 diff, Williams axles, Detroit locker, 4:11 ratio
Suspension: Air Ride, air struts, self-levelling controller
Brakes: Aerospace callipers and rotors all round
Wheels/Tyres: 18×6–20×16–inch Boyd Coddington rims, Mickey Thompson radial tyres 20×18.5×31 (rear)
Exterior: 3-inch roof chop, shaved door handles and bumpers, late-model Corvette rear end, custom-made bar grille, tubbed, Real Black Paint by Standox
Chassis: Rear halved
Interior: Recaro front seats, custom rear seat, Budnik steering wheel, B&M shifter, Prometer gauges, custom dash, custom retrim
ICE: Two Kicker 6.5-inch components, two Kicker 10-inch square subs, two Kicker four-inch components, four Kicker amplifiers, two capacitors, Pioneer touchscreen head unit
Performance: 750hp (559kW) when on carbs. Has not been tested since injection was fitted
Tony Etheridge – Owner Profile
Driver: Tony Etheridge
Car club: New Plymouth Rodders
Occupation: Company director
Previously owned cars: 1923 T-bucket
Dream car: I have it!
Why the Camaro: It’s my dream car!
Build time: Three years, work in progress
Length of ownership: Three years
Tony thanks: Steve Hildred Motors, Dana Jury, Wayne Hall, Blair Corbett, Lloyd Garrick, Wayne Garrick, Dean Cadman, Gary Paton, Golly Adams, Jason Birmingham, Ian Scott, Mike Ekdahl, and of course Anna, Luke and Kyle, Brett Marshall@Finishers Touch, Pete Melody, Stan Jones, Lloyd &Wayne Garrick, Tony at Kicker
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy
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