LS3 Powered ’68 Camaro Under Construction: Project “Blue Hour”

Cars tend to make fantastic subjects for photographers to take pictures of, so it’s no wonder that so many photographers are car guys as well. Eric McClellan, from Hugo, Minnesota is one such photographer/car guy, who owns a spectacular example of a Pro-Touring ’68 Camaro that keeps him, and his camera, quite busy.

In fact, the Camaro even gets its project name, “Blue Hour” from photography. In photography it’s all about the lighting, and McClellan tells us that there is a time of day, right after the “Golden Hour”, when the light has a bluish tint – the “Blue Hour.” It’s not a typical project name, but that’s really the point.

Waiting For the Good Stuff

The car’s modification list is actually a dream-team of high end Pro-Touring components, found together all in one place to create a home-built supercar. Blue Hour rides on a Speed Tech front subframe outfitted with tall AFX spindles, and a Speed Tech rear torque arm set up with coil overs. The car has been mini-tubed to accommodate the 18×12 Forgeline GX3 rear wheels, wrapped in some sticky 335/30/18 BFGoodrich KDW2, and one of the cool benefits of the Speed Tech front subframe is that you can fit 18×9 wheels and 275mm wide tires in the front. Those big Forgelines bolt over mondo 14″ rotors and 6 piston calipers from Baer in both the front and rear.

Forgeline, Stack, Rick's Stainless, MAST, Holley, Speed Tech, Baer - Project Blue Hour truly is a 'who's who' representation of some of the best the Pro-Touring aftermarket has to offer, and proof that good things come to those who wait.

Blue Hour gets its power from a 416 cubic inch MAST Motorsports LS3, that dyno’d at just over 600 horsepower at the crank. The big inch LS breathes through Holley’s 300-116 Hi-Ram Intake Manifold, while Earl’s braided fuel lines and AN fittings keep the petrol flowing from a Rick’s Stainless Tanks aluminum gas tank with a VaporWorx system. The LS3 spins a light weight Ram aluminum flywheel and dual friction clutch inside a Quicktime bellhousing mounted to a T56 transmission from Rockland Standard Gear.

Project Blue Hour – Vehicle Specs
Engine: Mast Motorsports LS3 – 600 HP
Induction: Holley Hi-Ram Intake
Fuel System: Rick’s Stainless Gas Tank and Earl’s Braided Lines
Transmission: Rockland Standard Gear T56 with Quicktime Bellhousing, Ram Clutch and Aluminum Flywheel
Suspension: Speed Tech Front Subframe and 3-Link Rear
Brakes: Baer 6-Piston Calipers with 14″ Rotors Front and Rear
Wheels and Tires: Forgeline GX3 18×9 and 18×12, with BFGoodrich KDW2 Tires 275/35/18 and 335/30/18
Electronics: American Autowire Harness with Stack Race Dash

All that high tech EFI gadgetry is powered by an Optima Red Top Battery and an American Autowire 18 circuit wiring kit, while a Stack 8130 Race Dash clusterhelps McClellan keep sharp eye on what’s going on under the hood.

As you can clearly tell from the extensive modifications list and pictures of the build, McClellan has poured countless hours of time and energy into Blue Hour, right in his own garage. We were curious as to just what it takes to build an LS powered muscle car of this caliber with nothing but jackstands, hand tools, and your own ingenuity, so we interviewed McClellan to get all the details on Project Blue Hour’s build.

LSXMag: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Eric. We know that every old muscle car has a great story behind it. How long have you owned your Camaro? How did you come to own it?

Eric McClellan: “I’ve owned the car since 2001. I bought it right as I met my wife. The two just seem to be intertwined with each other for that reason. We were hard up for cash once, and I told her we could sell the Camaro for some fast money. She said that we would never sell it, no matter how bad things got. Impressive lady!”

“I bought the car from a friend who runs a dyno shop in my old town, I was half asking around about a first gen Camaros in the area and sure enough, he had one that he was willing to sell. It had just been sitting in a barn for the past four to five years at that point. To my surprise, it ran and drove the entire way home… which I felt was impressive. Within two weeks, the entire car had been stripped down and was ready to rebuild. Only problem was that I was in college at the time and didn’t have any cash. It took another four years of work and money to finally get it finished and drivable.”

LSXMag: So why were you drawn to the Pro-Touring build style?

McClellan: “A while back, I was just into going fast. I was into drag racing and straight line speed. That was fine for a while, but I was doing some stupid crap on the streets that I knew I shouldn’t be. Then, a friend introduced me to go-karting and what a blast it was. Going left and right and the lateral forces were just too much fun. I knew I wanted more of that. Money has always been fairly tight with us, so when this opportunity came up to redo the Camaro in the turn-left-and-right-and-go-fast style, I couldn’t pass it up. I’ve always liked cars that looked pissed when you look at them. And this style looks mad for no other reason that it just “is” and I like that. It’s cool to have a car that can handle the day-to-day life and at the same time hit the track and be competitive. Modern day reliability with the safety and aggressive handling of a track car; what’s not to love?”

LSXMag: Your Camaro has a pretty unique project name. Why exactly is it called “Blue Hour”?

McClellan: “It’s called blue hour because I’m a photographer and its blue. There is a magic time of day right after the golden hour where everything is bluish, called the ‘Blue Hour’. It’s a fair bit esoteric and only a few people will get it, but it’s really for those people. Besides, everyone has a ‘blue bomber’ or some other clichéd name for their blue car. Mine’s definitely the only car named Blue Hour!”

Blue Hour was a nice car to start with, but not quite the Pro-Touring beast it's well on its way to becoming...

LSXMag: What are you personally most proud of on this build so far?

McClellan: “I guess the part that I’m most proud of is that I was able to do it myself with the help of some really cool people. I have always been really nervous about ‘screwing things up’ and I was able to get over my fear of cutting up my car and ruining it. This was my first time running any type of fuel injection, my first time cutting and installing a mini-tub, first time installing a roll cage, and my first time handling top-of-the-line equipment that’s not second hand or used in some way. I was able to break my fear of failure and just power through, so I’m really proud of that.”

The car is inching closer and closer to completion every day, and once McClellan has it on the road look for a full update, hopefully with some track numbers to go with it.

LSXMag: We totally get why you did it, but for the benefit of the purists out there – why specifically did you choose to use an LSX powerplant instead of a common small block Chevy, or even a big block?

McClellan: “Again, for me it was a little bit about fear. I was afraid of spending my hard earned money on the car, and have it end up still being a pile of junk. So I saved up and went for the best stuff I could. And now that LS swaps are so common place, it’s easy to do with the right advice and help. Parts are easy to find and they are so well engineered that they make it almost idiot proof. Big power and lighter weight – Why wouldn’t I go with an LSX? Not to mention I get to throw out my timing light and never have to mess with another metering block or clogged jet ever again!”

Mission Almost Accomplished

McClellan recently updated us and let us know that Blue Hour is up and running, and just has a few small bugs to work out before it’s ready to hit the street and track. If you’d like to follow McClellan’s progress on the car, be sure to check out his project thread on Pro-Touring.com, and his personal photography website. Stay tuned to LSXMag for updates once Blue Hour is ready to hit the pavement and lay down some black stripes.

About the author

Clifton Klaverweiden

Clifton has been a car fanatic since his late teens, when he started the restoration of his '67 Camaro. He considers himself a student of automotive science and technology, and particularly loves all things LSX. And, although he has an appreciation for everything, from imports to exotics, his true passion will always be for GM musclecars.
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