Self-Built Camaro Is A Pro Street Hit At Street Machine Nationals

There was a sea of street machines of every shape and size at the Street Machine Nationals in Du Quoin, Illinois. If you want to see the most amazing Pro Street cars, this is the place to be. It’s where the movement gained its notoriety (and maybe its infamy) and is still alive, well, and highly represented at the event. Even though there are new builds introduced each year, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a modern car done Pro Street style as they did back in the day.

We get it — new cars are expensive — who wants to start cutting up a modern vehicle and hassling with all those electronics. But, back in the Pro Street heyday, there were plenty of cars that were practically brand new when they debuted. The likes of Matt and Debbie Hay’s Thunderbird, Rick Dobbertin’s J-2000, Mark Grimes’ Eurosport, and Rocky Robertson’s Buick LeSabre could still be seen in dealerships when they hit the show circuits. These were all fueled by the excitement around the movement of Pro Street. Though the euphoria of Pro Street has simmered; this year we found something special — and modern.

This well-constructed sixth-generation Camaro is self-built by Shawn Meeks and illustrates that the Pro Street movement is by no means “stuck in the ’90s.”(Photos by Shawn Brereton)

Shawn Meeks purchased this 2010 Camaro SS brand new. After a short stint of driving the car in stock form, the gears in his head began turning when he parked the car beside his first Pro Street project. He still owns the 1967 Mustang fastback he constructed back in the 1990s. As a service engineer by trade for the Caterpillar Corporation, Meeks has the fabrication skills along with a complete shop of equipment to build yet another Pro Street transformation.

“I first went to the Street Machine Nationals back in 1986 when I was 16-years old,” Meeks tells us. “I was hooked from that point but was a young kid with no money. I wanted one of those cars so bad. Over the past ten years, I have created my own fabrication shop by slowly adding equipment. Now my goal was to construct a new Pro Street car that I hoped would be a real attention-getter at Du Quoin. My wife calls the shop my play area, but I like that I’m able to work on cars for friends as well as my own.”

The supercharged 418 cubic-inch LS powerplant is in stark contrast to the original Camaro body still sporting the original VIN tag. Meeks took great care in keeping the original paint in pristine condition despite all of the custom fabrication.

Meeting his own personal challenge, Meeks explains his goal was always to complete the transformation entirely by himself. The one exception he notes is his reluctance to do any paint or bodywork. Something he didn’t want to task on himself. “My intent was to back-half the Camaro and construct the rollcage without touching the original paint or interior.”

He accomplished that goal by only requiring the Camaro hood to be modified to accommodate the massive Supercharger assembly. The Blower Drive Service 8-71 supercharger is combined with an Enderle Fuel Injection “Big and Ugly” injector hat along with a “Rapta Catcha” air enhancer from Alkydigger.

Within his personal shop, Meeks completed all of the modifications himself including the back-half suspension, wheel tubs, and roll cage. He even fabricated the 9-inch Ford sheet metal housing.

A full disassembly of the Camaro interior took place. Meeks explained the wheel tubs were his biggest challenge as not to damage the original paint. “I had to lightly tickle my TIG welder around the tubs, back-half suspension, and some cage bars so I didn’t burn the paint,” he says.

Mission accomplished.

The rearend propelling the massive Mickey Thompson Racing S/R 33x22R15 tires is a self-fabricated 9-inch Ford housing kit from Rhodes Race Cars. The housing contains a Strange Engineering center section utilizing 4:89 gears, a pair of Strange 35-spline axles, and a Wilwood disc brake set.

The unique roll cage layout complements the factory's original "Jet Black" interior design. The upper bars work well with the center roof console, and the side-bars nicely complement the bucket seats.

A ladder-bar suspension design works with QA1 coilover shocks and utilizes Weld Wheel S71 wheels all the way around. Behind the front Weld Wheels are QA1 struts and a Brembo front brake set.

“The gear ratio may seem tall,” Meeks explains. “But with the 33-inch Mickeys and a Tremec TR-6060 manual transmission, I can put it in sixth-gear and travel at 75 miles-per-hour on the interstate without any issues at all. Between the past two summers, I have driven about 5,000 problem-free miles on the car.”

While the Tremec manual trans is also quite unique for a Pro Street hot rod, it is combined with a strong twin-disc clutch from Monster Clutch Company.

Since this photoshoot, Meeks has recently imported from Australia and installed an S1 Sequential brand shifter to improve any hard shifting of the supercharged/6-speed combination.

Meeks also shows off his electronic tuning skills with the 418 cubic-inch LS Chevy. He personally designed and built a General Motors engine control unit and electronic fuel-injection system custom programmed using an HP Tuners control. Under the blower is a unique Holley Performance high-ram intake manifold.

The different injection systems feed the BDS 8-71 blown engine. The General Motors EFI system, a Snow Performance methanol injector system, and nitrous injectors fed by a twin-bottle system are nestled into the trunk.

The supercharged 418 uses a group of Fuel Injector Clinic electronic injectors controlled by a fly-by-wire throttle assembly. Along with that fuel feed, there is a twin Snow Performance methanol injector system on the top side of the blower.

Another attention grabber is the twin nitrous bottles mounted in the trunk area that are an active horsepower adder as well. “Before the supercharger, I had a nitrous system on top of the engine,” Meeks adds. “I didn’t want to lose that, so I plumbed some nitrous injectors into the manifold assembly.”

On the exhaust side, the 418 uses a set of two-inch primary headers from Texas Speed and Performance. There is an X-pipe exhaust fit within the tight confines of the F-body floor pan finished out with a pair of Spintech Performance Pro Street 5000 mufflers. Meeks comments, “There is not a whole lot of real estate for a performance exhaust under there. The sound is great, though, and I got out of it what I was really hoping to achieve.”

The interior is a sharp blend of the original Camaro panels with a bright yellow Chromoly rollcage system which complements one another well. Meeks fabricated the top and sidebars of the cage to flow along the lines of the seats and interior panels. The tubing that coincides with the center roof console has a look all its own.

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“I’m a tall guy,” Meeks describes. “The upper-cage tubing and the door bars that wrap the factory bucket seats were motivated by the need for me to get in and out easily. When all this work was completed, the factory air-conditioning, the original General Motors OnStar, and the factory gauges all still function nicely for a very comfortable car.”

A Snow Performance methanol controller gauge and an AEM Electronics wideband air/fuel ratio gauge combine with the cage tubing. This arrangement allows for the dash area to maintain its original appearance and to keep the performance hardware separate from the OEM components.

His Illinois "bumblebee" license plate was a surprise gift from his wife. The plate eludes to the obvious General Motors' bright "Rally Yellow" factory body color. It is also used throughout the various Pro Street mods on the Camaro.

“It is a work still in progress but very close to full completion,” Meeks explains. “I still plan to draw-in the recess of the front wheels to more closely match a more traditional wheel offset as you would see on a typical Pro Street ride. Reconstructing the front suspension will be my major winter project goal before the summer of 2020.”

Ultimately, Meek’s effort paid off during his very first significant showing with the Camaro. He returned home from the 2019 Du Quoin Street Machine Nationals with two coveted awards, earning both the Legends Choice Award and the Best Engine/Compartment in the Street Machine class.

Many national awards like this are cited as an effort completed by professional car builders. But, Shawn can say he did it all himself and is humbly honored to be recognized by the legends he looked up to so many years ago. Through his attention to detail and dare to be different attitude, Shawn Meeks scored some serious hardware during the Du Quoin debut of his eye-catching Camaro. He can add these to his trophy shelves proudly while knowing his trips to the awards podium are just getting started.

About the author

Todd Silvey

Todd has been a hardcore drag racing journalist since 1987. He is constantly on both sides of the guardwall from racing photography and editorship to drag racing cars of every shape and class.
Read My Articles

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