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Cardinal Camaro

With all the eye-catching car builds we are exposed to in our feeds in today’s era of social media dominance, it can be easy to take for granted just what’s become possible with today’s advanced aftermarket components and highly talented builders. Hopping up cars has been going on since day one, but today we have the skill and hardware to inject our beloved classics with levels of the speed, handling and style that would have been unimaginable when these cars were new.

97 restomod chevy camaro on Nitto tires

Back in 1967, the Chevrolet Camaro you see here, was a brand new, state of the art pony-car. It represented the beginning of what would be a 55+ year lineage across six generations of Camaros that’s continued to this day. If you had access to a time machine and took this Camaro back to 1967, the people there would recognize the body of this car, but that’s about it.

front driver side view of 1967 chevy camaro restomod

Modern Engineering

Having been completely re-imagined by U.S. 12 Speed and Custom in New Buffalo, Michigan, this first-year Camaro is the recipient of over a half-century’s progress in engineering, tech and hot-rodding know-how. Rocky Troxell and the crew at U.S. 12 have been building some of the Midwest’s hottest custom and pro-touring machines for over a decade now. And at the 2023 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, this project, dubbed The Cardinal Camaro made a big splash.

Interior of US Speed and Custom's 1967 Cardinal Camaro restomod

To look over the Cardinal Camaro is to see just how-far we’ve come from the days of temperamental engines that were quick to overheat, poor brakes, massive body roll and tires that howl that for mercy when pushed at all. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s if you wanted to improve the power of your Camaro, you’d be looking at several sacrifices in reliability, fuel economy and comfort to hit those goals. Even something extreme like a big block swap would come with a massive penalty in handling characteristics.

rear passenger side 1967 Camaro restomod by US 12 Speed and Custom

Contemporary Drivetrain

Today, the lightweight 6.2L GM Connect & Cruise LS3 V8 that powers the Cardinal Camaro makes power that was only found in purpose-built race cars back in ’67. And that’s all while delivering fuel efficiency and a level of refinement and reliability that was simply unimaginable back then. You can also thank the Tremec TKO transmission for that.

6.2L LS3 V8 in 1967 Camaro restomod

The suspension and brakes? It’s all been updated with rack and pinion steering, coilovers — and a set of Wilwood brakes that are nearly as large as the wheels the Camaro came with back in ’67.

Old/New School Wheel & Tire Blend

And yet for all of the modern hardware lurks beneath the body, there’s still a distinctly old school, street machine element to the Camaro’s wheel and tire setup that we especially like.

US Speed and Custom Cardinal Camaro passenger side front

Up front are extra skinny 18”x5 Billet Specialties Win Lite wheels - which stand in stark contrast to the giant 20”x10 Billet Specialties Hydro rear wheels. And those back wheels are paired with a set of properly modern 315/35ZR20 Nitto NT555 G2 tires.

Nitto NT555 G2 tires on a Camaro  restomod musclecar

Not only do the thick NT555 G2s fill out the rear fenders and put that LS3 power to the pavement, the serious stagger helps give the Camaro a look that reminds of a toy car. And we mean that in a good way.

Timeless Appearance

It’s not all about the latest technology though. There’s also a timeless craftsmanship to the car, most evident in the body and paint work - which uses a hue of BASF red paint based on an Aston Martin color. It’s the perfect finishing touch for a car that has it all.

Rear end of the Cardinal Camaro

With how far we’ve come since the Camaro first appeared on the streets back 1967, it’s reasonable to wonder what the coming decades hold. Thanks to an industry that never stops advancing, and the talents of shops like U.S 12, the future of hot-rodding will be an evolving mix of innovation and excitement.

  low front driver side 3/4 shot of a restomod 1967 Chevy Camro

Cardinal Camaro Hard Facts

Builder: U.S. 12 Speed and Custom
Hometown: New Buffalo, Michigan
Vehicle: 1967 Chevy Camaro
Engine: GM 6.2L LS3 Connect & Cruise crate engine, Clayton Machine Works valve covers, K&N air filter, PRC radiator, CVF accessory drive, custom stainless exhaust with X-pipe and SPD Performance mufflers
Drivetrain: Tremec TKO 600 six-speed transmission, 4” aluminum driveshaft, Strange Engineering axles, Eaton Truetrac LSD w/ 4.10:1 gears
Suspension: Steeda rack and pinion, ABS power brake master, Belltech spindles, Performance Online front control arms, CalTracs rear traction bars, QA1 Coilovers, Global West sub frame connectors, Wilwood 12” disc brakes & calipers
Wheels & Tires Billet Specialties 18"x5 Win Lite (front) 20"x10 Hydro (rear), 315/35ZR20 Nitto NT555 G2 tires (rear)
Exterior: Custom 3/8” aluminum grille, ’68 Camaro one-piece side glass, Anvil Auto spoiler and front splitter, billet fuel door/cap, Detroit Speed tubs, Glasurit/BASF Devine Red paint
Interior: Ididit steering column, Billet Specialties steering wheel, Classic Instruments gauges, Restomod Air A/C system, Clayton Machine Works pedals, door handles and window cranks, Bowler shifter, Upholstery by Interiors by Ed, TMI Products seats, side panels, dash pad and door panels, Memphis Audio speakers, Jenson head unit
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