Randy Johnson is no stranger to Camaros—not by a long shot. Through his company, D&Z Customs in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, he’s built his fair share of the most killer g-Machine F-bodies around—and not just for customers, either. He’s actually kept a few for himself. Of all the classic muscle cars out there, Camaros are his favorite. He just so happens to fancy the early second-gens the most.
“I wanted to build another example of what D&Z Customs is capable of while using the car as a parts-selling tool,” Randy explains. “It’s important to prove that the products we sell, use, and build works well on the street and even better at the track.”
With one big-horsepower second-gen currently parked in the stable, Randy aimed to build another and take it to the proverbial next level. Fortunately for Randy, a friend of his started working on a super-clean, California-bought 1973 but lost interest a few months in. Randy was happy to take over the rust-free carcass. “We media blasted the body and it showed absolutely no rust or signs of being in an accident,” said Randy. “Usually cars like this aren’t as advertised, but this one was pristine—an exception to the rule.”
Randy took what he learned from building his previous second-gen and went into this car with a no-holds-barred attitude. He was hell-bent on building the ultimate Pro Touring track-day second-gen to ever hit the streets. There was only one small problem: A prime indoor spot at the 2013 SEMA Show in Las Vegas was his if he could get the car built in time.
The show was a mere four months away and Randy was looking at a primered Camaro body and a host of parts laying on the shop floor. The closest thing he had to a completed car were the ideas in his head and the Murray Pfaff rendering hanging on the shop wall. Oh, did we mention D&Z Customs is basically a one-man shop? Time was not on Randy’s side. He needed to get welders blazing and wrenches turning … quickly.
Assembling a Worthy Power Plant
The competitive edge started with a beefy LS7 assembled by Wegner Automotive (Markesan, Wisconsin). Wiseco 11:1-compression pistons and Callies connecting rods and crankshaft comprise the rotating assembly. COMP pushrods, roller lifters, and custom-ground cam and RHS LS7 heads are the prime time players in the top end. ARP fasteners button up the ensemble. A FAST 102mm LSX R intake ensures proper fuel/air distribution and FAST 52-lb/hr injectors distribute the offerings delivered by the GM ZL1 fuel pump. Spent fuel makes a rapid exit via 1 7⁄8-inch long-tubes and 3-inch chambered Stainless Works X-pipe. The end result is a massive sound that can best be described as a big shot of arrogance topped off with a heavy dose of anger.
The Dailey Engineering dry-sump oiling system and Peterson Fluid Systems 10-quart tank keep the internals lubed while a C&R Racing oil cooler and two-row aluminum radiator keep the engine temps in check. The beastly mill is fronted by a Spectre Performance air intake and element that snakes its way around the Wegner black anodized accessory drive system. The Wegner valve covers and black anodized Eddie Motorsports hood hinges add to the engine bay’s sinister motif.
With the crew at West Bend Dyno squeezing the Wegner Automotive concoction to 680 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque, Randy went to Centerforce for a DYAD twin-disc clutch to manage the abuse posed upon the Tremec T-56 transmission. A Dynotech 3.5-inch steel driveshaft mates to a Yukon heavy-duty, aluminum 9-inch-style centersection stuffed with 3.89:1 gears.
Getting these rollers off the line is done hardcore drag style with a 3,500 stall converter with a lockup clutch. Once the machine scoots down the 1320 to the tune of 11 seconds or so, something has to put a stop to that triple digit speed, and that’s taken care of with a Wilwood master cylinder and Baer calipers at all four corners.
Handling & Suspension
To accommodate the car’s ferocious tendencies, a more-than-capable suspension would need to be enlisted to get the job done—on the street and the track. Up front, a Heidts Pro-G subframe armed with the Heidts prototype cantilever suspension system and RideTech triple-adjustable shocks converge with Heidts 2″ drop spindles and tubular lower A-arms. RideTech springs and triple-adjustable coilover shocks bolt up to the new Heidts Pro-G IRS rear suspension system.
Repetitive late-braking is a common occurrence on a single road course lap. It creates a hostile environment for a less-than-capable braking system, so Wilwood W6A six-piston binders pinch 14-inch GT slotted rotors up front, while Wilwood DynaPro four-piston stoppers clamp 10.25-inch plates out back—a sufficient setup for Randy’s aggressive track-day outings..
Styling and Added Features
Nitto NT05 rubber (295/35-18 front, 335/30-19 rear) wrap the Forgeline DE3C wheels (18×10 front, 19×12 rear) with black-powdercoated hoops and gray centers on all four corners. Jeff Miller is responsible for the cool orange pinstripes on the wheels’ edge. The Forgeline center-lock conversion makes the wheels even cooler.
Randy promoted a race-inspired, functional interior complete with Sparco EVO II seats covered in black cloth to complement the GM factory replacement doors panels and black carpet. A RideTech five-point harness mounts to the RideTech Tiger Cage Plus. Along with providing additional rigidity, the ‘cage looks pretty damn cool. Bowler Transmission provided the shifter, and Randy white-knuckles a suede-wrapped Sparco steering wheel.
Randy prefers to shy away from trailers for track-to-track transportation, so an MTX sound system helps break up the sonorous eight-piston symphony on extended road trips. Borrowing a cue from a high-tech gaming screen, Auto Meter’s latest LCD display rests in the dash and keeps Randy in the know on every level. The Vintage Air A/C system ensures coolness prevails even when the racing gets hot.
On top of all the trick exterior components, D&Z’s Mark Klos sprayed a thick layer of PPG Citrus Green Metallic. Mark continued with the Pfaff theme by applying the hood-to-trunk black and gray graphic finished off with orange accents pulled from the aforementioned wheels.
Going up against an inflexible time frame to get the car done, Randy credits Tom Papez as being ready at a moment’s notice to take care of any last-minute machining, while Randy’s kids, Dylan and Zoey, the “D” and “Z” of D&Z Customs, lent a hand whenever needed … as long as their homework was completed.
So, did the second-gen Randy calls Envious meet his expectations? “With all the attention and positive feedback it received at SEMA, and being invited to compete in the 2013 OUSCI (Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational), I’m ecstatic,” he said. “Being that we rushed to get the car done for the show, I’m really looking forward to getting out on the track to dial in the suspension and engine tuning. I’m also excited to get out to as many driving events as possible in 2014. Who knows, maybe I’ll win an event or two with this thing.”