If you have any experience with the products from Forgeline Motorsports, then you know it makes American-made wheels with sturdy construction capable of extreme forms of motorsports. With a racer/owner at the helm, the founder brought years of racing experience and merged them into attractive designs with extreme durability to develop a final product relied on by racers and weekend warriors alike.
All of the qualities found in the extensive Forgeline Motorsports catalog can also describe the ethos on which this Pro-Touring Camaro was built. It integrates all the classic styles with the technology, capability, and reliability for the demands of racing — not trailered around like a queen.
This build aimed to showcase Forgeline wheels on a modernized Pro-Touring style, split-bumper Camaro pretty enough to bag Best of Show awards but a car not to tangle with on any road course, anywhere.
“We’ve been dreaming about building a Pro-Touring machine for several years,” says President of Forgeline Motorsports, David Schardt. “We’re a supporter of the [Pro-Touring] sector of the aftermarket and have already been the wheel of choice for many of the cars and builders who have made these Pro-Touring events so popular.”
My wife called it the ‘F*$%ing Camaro’ throughout the build, as we had many frustrating setbacks. — David Schardt.
With the mission statement sorted, it was time to source just the right classic muscle. While the easy choice is a Gen-1 Camaro (or more specifically, the often played-out 1969), Schardt had a local friend with a clean 1970 Chevrolet Camaro — the first year of the restyled second-generation split bumper on the F-body.
The car was cleaned up and hauled over to Smitty’s Custom Automotive in Tiffen, Ohio, to be carefully crafted under the direction of the owner (and autocrosser), Chris Smith. Smitty’s Custom Automotive has built many Pro-Touring style cars, some for RideTech. Another factor was Smitty’s is in the home state of Forgeline, which is based in Dayton, Ohio.
At the heart of the project, the powerplant was entrusted to Chevy legends, Lingenfelter Performance. A new LT4 motor was sourced from Lingenfelter, complete with a supercharger making more than enough jam. So, there was not much else needed under the hood beyond a Spectre air intake, Ultimate stainless steel headers, and custom stainless steel dual exhausts.
Naturally, that kind of power from a supercharged-LT4 V8 would melt OEM drivelines. Schardt sourced a Bowler Transmissions Tremec T-56 box with a Centerforce clutch banging through gears with a Finch Performance shifter. Again, a few people might skimp on beefing up the hidden rearend, but not here, as it is fitted with a Moser Engineering rear with a 3.89:1 gear.
Any Pro-Touring car has to have modern suspension and braking upgrades. The ancient geometry and drums just won’t cut it these days. All of the control arms were replaced with tubular Detroit Speed arms along with poly bushings to reduce flex. A set of RideTech electronically-controlled Instinct coilovers and fat Detroit Speed sway bars keep the Camaro in-check around extreme corners.
The aging steering components were replaced with fresh Turn One gears. The brakes are from Baer with 6-pistons clamping down on 2-piece slotted rotors on all four corners. Finally, a set of Detroit Speed subframe connectors stiffen up the chassis, which is an often overlooked upgrade since the labor time and/or expense can be a hard pass for owners.
The rolling gear is among Forgeline’s finest, a fresh-off-the-assembly-line set of GX3R wheels. The rear axle is fitted with 18×12-inch GX3R open-lug wheels cloaked in 335/30R18 BFGoodrich Rival S tires, but the real news is on the front of this outrageous Camaro. Schardt used a few tricks to cram massive 18×11-inch wheels with a 315/30R18 BFGoodrich Rival S tires in the front.
We haven’t done the math, but this has to have more contact patch than two Corollas!
Lastly, the aesthetics of the Camaro would give it a legit shot at a Best Camaro or Chevy award at many classic car shows we’ve been to. The body was fitted with a Carbon Kustoms hood and front fenders (obviously, a necessary wheel hack to fit those ridiculous 315mm front tires). The entire front of the car is converted to a tube chassis for added strength and stiffness, but with far less weight.
Originally red, the Camaro was slathered in several layers of Shark Gray metallic paint by Smitty’s Custom Automotive. To cap off the project, a D&Z Customs front spoiler and bumpers with integrated LED signals were bolted up to the front clip.
On the inside, it hardly looks like a race car but has all of the same functionality among all that flare. The “FN Camaro” (more on that later) was dropped off to Trent Van Arsladen of Trent’s Trick Upholstery in New Baltimore, Ohio. There it spent the next three months at the cost of “too much,” according to Shardt, but with results that speak volumes.
Stripped past the sound deadening, the interior was fitted with a competition RideTech Tiger cage, hit with the same Shark Gray metallic. A pair of MOMO racing seats were added along with symbolic rear buckets that couldn’t hold a teddy bear. Actually, the “rear seats” were designed to hold helmets for both the passenger and driver. Custom door panels with billet door releases were fabbed up, along with a leather dash panel with contrasting stitching to make it pop.
A few electronic gadgets were added, like the Racepak digital dash and datalogger, RideTech suspension controls, and Alpine double-DIN LCD infotainment screen. Real talk, there isn’t any 1970 Camaro left in here, but a striking race-ready interior with modern gear and a usable trunk. However, it didn’t come easy.
“My wife called it the ‘F*$%ing Camaro’ throughout the build, as we had many frustrating setbacks,” admits Schardt. “The name stuck and was eventually changed to the ‘FN Camaro’ for obvious reasons.”
We have all been there, David! And he owned it by etching ‘FN Camaro’ throughout the project. We are always pumped to see what Schardt and Forgeline create, and have since the late-1990s when they campaigned a Toyota Supra MkIV in Speedworld GT racing. This car is definitely a masterpiece. Because it’s purpose-built and actually hits the racetrack, it is even more insane. All we can say is we hope Schardt has some sort of clear bra on that body because it is way too pretty to track.