Report Date 2/23/08

 

The following documentation has been prepared for:

Kirk Wilson
Po Box 571
Mableton, GA 30126
404-427-3241

 

1970 Chevrolet Camaro - Herb Adams VSE “Stage II” Cheverra

 

 



Historical Perspective/Overview – General

 

The 1970 Chevrolet Camaro identified on the cover page and subject of this report enjoys the full distinction of being one of very few Second Generation Camaros appointed with Herb Adams VSE “Staged” Cheverra components. To further distinguish it from other Cheverra builds, the level of chassis preparation and use of special one-off components makes it a virtual platform for the promotion of special suspension components developed by Herb Adams/VSE.

   

 Subject engine compartment

 

The Pontiac Fire-Am’s and Chevrolet Cheverra’s of Herb Adams' VSE (Very Special Equipment) were pioneer “tuner cars” that deserve recognition for having paved the way for a very specialized automotive segment that followed.  They were purpose built machines born out of the developmental project for Pontiac's WS6 suspension program to which Adams was chief engineer.

As a Pontiac special projects engineer, Herb was instrumental in the development of the Trans Am and SD-455 engine packages, among others. He also raced a host of highly competitive Firebirds and Camaros in SCCA events. Herbs race cars were built by himself and engineers Tom Nell and Jeff Young in their spare time sans factory backing. After leaving Pontiac in 1973, Herb continued on his own, creating F-body chassis upgrades to forward his own racing efforts.

 Herb built a '76 Fire-Am prototype employing his special chassis components and presented it to Pontiac's John Schinella and Bill Collins. They approved of the car, and since Pontiac was interested in IROC at the time, he was contracted in late 1976 to build eight Fire-Ams to replace the Camaros in the series.

 

 

Shown above is the proto-type ’76 Fire-Am. Below is the production version of the Fire-Am with Herb standing along side

 

The Fire-Ams performance was simply outstanding, but unfortunately, Pontiac racing in a showroom-stock-style venue with celebrity drivers at the wheel didn't come to fruition. Herb sent some of the eight cars to automotive magazines for testing. The resulting coverage was very positive. In order to not waste the effort, Herb pursued the idea of building “F” body tuner cars for street and road racing.  

Herb states, "Though Pontiac's proposed race program didn't fly, we still knew that we had a good car that performed better than anything the division was building. We asked Cars and Concepts' Dick Chrysler and Dave Draper to build a turnkey package to be sold through Pontiac dealers."  The endeavor increased the price by $1,000-$2,000 over the premium already paid for the vehicle.  As a result, very few Fire-Ams (or Cheverras, the Camaro version) were actually built at Cars and Concepts.

   

VSE Production Fire-Am

   

Herb sold the components via mail order, individually or in three-tiered packages, so any “F” body owner could build their own. VSE also offered installation services on any year privately owned second generation Firebird or Camaro, from simple bolt-ons to complete staged packages. But since these cars were not numbered or heavily documented, it's difficult to verify whether or not a vehicle was built at VSE without receipts to prove it.

 Consequently, the possibility exists that any Fire-Am or Cheverra could have been created by one of three different methods; Cars and Concepts built it from a new car delivered from a Pontiac dealer, VSE built it from a private-owner car, or a private owner ordered the parts and built it himself. 

The latter two scenarios are likelihoods for the subject car of this report. However, the level of preparation on the subject is consistent with VSE having performed the work taking into consideration the quality and the amount of one-off components that were specially constructed for the build. Additionally, the components used on the chassis were selected from VSE Stages I and II which indicates there was a great deal of careful design consideration given for a very specific purpose. The chassis/body appears to be set up for SCCA Autocross and or Solo Racing and the quality of construction is consistent with VSE builds.

 

 Aggressive stance of the subject 1970 Cheverra


 

Herb Adams Staged packages offered through Cars and Concepts and VSE

 

FIRE-AM / CHEVERRA STAGE I: STREET PERFORMANCE

  • VSE 1 5/16-inch front stabilizer bar with spherical rod-end-equipped end links
  • Revised wheel-alignment specs
  • VSE 1.00-inch rear stabilizer bar
  • VSE modified rear-spring hangers
  • VSE front-structure kit
  • VSE front-end lowering kit
  • VSE battery-relocation kit
  • VSE 8-inch-wide wheels and recommended tires
  • VSE advanced-design oil pan and pickup
  • VSE large-diameter bolt-in roll bar

FIRE-AM / CHEVERRA STAGE II: AUTOCROSS

  • VSE brake-cooling ducts and backing plates, drill cooling holes in the rear drums
  • VSE metallic pads and shoes
  • VSE Koni shocks (later VSE/Moroso adjustable)
  • VSE Corbeau bucket seats, racing belts, and harnesses
  • VSE oil cooler and remote-filter kit, wet-sump system

FIRE-AM / CHEVERRA STAGE III: ROAD RACE

  • VSE solid front-suspension bushings, heavy-duty front hubs and spindles
  • VSE heavy-duty Ford rear, solid rear-suspension bushings
  • VSE Hurst/Airheart 12-inch disc brakes, front and rear
  • VSE Doug Nash five-speed transmission
  • VSE dry-sump lubrication system

 


 

1970 Chevrolet Camaro - Herb Adams “Stage II” Cheverra  

        Subject Vehicle- Original GM Build information:

 

        The subject 1970 Camaro began life late in the 1970 model year as a Standard Camaro model with a 350 cuin 250 hp V8 engine and a four speed standard transmission. Typically, Fire-Am and Cheverra conversions were based on standard V8 models such as this. Herb was of the belief that the best candidates for staged builds were lower cost base models where the exchange of components had less impact on the overall build cost. The end result would be the same as if you were to start with a higher performance optioned production vehicle, but the overall cost to build was much less.

   

VIN

Trim Tag

Engine Pad (VIN / Engine Build)  

Vehicle Identification

 VIN #:               124870L53630

Engine #:          V0627CNI 10L530630

   

Trim Tag Information  

ST 70-12487 BL  28996 BDY

TR    710     58       58    PNT

7A      100023     020368

   

General Information  

  • Build Date: Production 1970 Camaro built in the first week of July 1970
  • Body Style: Standard Camaro Model
  • Interior: Standard Sandalwood
  • Exterior Color: Autumn Gold Exterior
  • Engine: RPO L65 9:1 comp, 350-250hp, 2bbl with Manual Transmission
  • Transmission: M20 Muncie 4spd, 2.54:1 first
  • Rear Axle: 10 bolt, open, 3.36:1
  • Matching Number Vehicle

 

Subject Vehicle - VSE Cheverra Upgrades list:

 

  • VSE 1 5/16-inch front stabilizer bar with spherical rod-end-equipped end links
  • VSE 1.00-inch rear stabilizer bar
  • VSE Revised wheel-alignment specs
  • VSE Recommended 8 “ Wheels and Tires
  • VSE Modified rear-spring hangers
  • VSE Front-structure kit - Special one-off chromed
  • VSE Front-end lowering kit – Radiator Brackets, Aluminum bushings
  • VSE Battery-relocation kit
  • VSE Recommended 8-inch-wide American Sprint Wheels and recommended tires
  • VSE Advanced-design oil pan and pickup with oil temperature boss
  • VSE Large-diameter bolt-in roll bar
  • VSE Metallic pads and shoes
  • VSE Koni shocks
  • VSE Corbeau bucket seat, racing belts, and harnesses
  • VSE GT leather wrapped Steering wheel
  • VSE Custom Anodized Aluminum Fuel Regulator Bracket
  • VSE Custom Anodized Aluminum Starter Motor Bracket and heat shield
  • Custom aluminum interior panels and gauge housing
  • Custom Drive Shaft Loop
  • Borg Warner T-10 4 Speed
  • VSE Custom Exhaust System
  • Extensive custom one-off  anodized aluminum cover plates including:
    • Fuel Pump Block-off
    • Heater box delete plate
    • Radio delete plate
    • Windshield wiper block-off plates
    • Visor block plates
  • Custom Body Work
    • VSE Fender Flairs
    • Front end altered to accept Rally Sport style front bumpers
    • L88 style fiberglass hood
    • Herb Adams signature Cheverra all fiberglass “Whale Tail” deck lid
  • Extensive engine work – Special Components
  • Fire safety equipment with custom controls
  • Approximate Build Date 1979-1980 (Conversion to  VSE Cheverra)

 

 

 


 

Photographic Documentation – 1970 Camaro Stage II “Cheverra”

     This Camaro has been meticulously prepared with VSE components  

Special VSE aluminum body lowering brackets mounts and solid bushings.

Signature VSE front-structure kit is visible near the power brake booster. The V-shaped, two-piece tubular bracket runs from two points on the firewall to the cross-shaft of the upper control arm, thereby triangulating the area from the subframe to cowl, reducing flex.

Special one off anodized aluminum block off plates fare used or heater and wiper delete


 

Part of the VSE lowering kit is shorter, solid-aluminum, sub-frame bushings (and radiator-support bushings), which reduces sub-frame deflection and lowers the center of gravity.

The large, 1 5/16-inch stabilizer bar and unique, hardened-steel, spherical rod-end-equipped end links are from VSE, as are the three-way adjustable shocks. Front springs were cut per Adams' instructions to lower the front end. Further upgrades such as polyurethane bushings, a 12.7:1 steering box, and upper control arms with solid bushings.

Painting of the springs brings focus to these special VSE additions  (VSE red)

Roll Bar backing plate can be seen nestled deeply within the massive and beautifully altered rear wheel well.  Body work shows superior craftsmanship


VSE Phase II sintered iron brake linings. Front Disc rotors are grooved

Aluminum lowering blocks are used between springs and spring perch to lower body without altering springs

VSE 1.00-inch rear stabilizer bar with special urethane bushings

 

VSE custom 3” exhaust with special bracing and balance tubes. Note special custom made drive shaft safety loop

Special VSE one-off starter brace and heat shield

VSE advanced-design oil pan and temperature sender take-off boss

Rear mounted Holley electric fuel pump is used in conjunction with a fuel regulator at the carburetor

Special T-10 and Lakewood Safety bellhousing and block plate

 

VSE large diameter bolt-in roll bar

Headliner uses a custom polished aluminum plate to cover the area where the visor once mounted 

All unused interior brackets were removed and openings filled  

Precision formed aluminum plates were fabricated for all unused dash openings. Dash cluster is not only handsome but functionally efficient. Form, fit and function VSE style.

Special VSE leather wrapped GT Steering Wheel provides elegance to an  otherwise  “business like” interior  

Custom made VSE systems control panel with fire safety equipment ready   

The signature VSE Cheverra fiberglass one-piece whale tail deck lid hints at what the Cheverra was supposed to be. The words Chevrolet and Carrera combined help create the name Cheverra. In large part, this special Camaro is the result of a challenge to match Porsche’s styling and high performance handling attributes.

The Camaro Cheverra did indeed accomplish the goal of matching Porsche Carerra handling and style. After spinning many laps around a 200 foot circle and playing with tire pressures, one of Herb's Cheverras recorded a best of .86 Gs; average .84 Gs. For comparison, a stock '81 Z28 with 32 psi tire pressure recorded a best of .73 Gs and an average of .72 Gs.

 


VSE battery relocation effect is the equivalent of moving the engine 10 inched rearward

Front flares make room for the extra large road race tires and in combination with the rear flares, actually enhance the overall lines of the vehicle. Note degree of craftsmanship

Herb Adams signature extra large diameter bolt-in roll cage

Details make the difference and help to set this Cheverra off from others

Fire System speaks to the seriousness of this build



    SUMMARY: 1970 VSE CHEVERRA STAGE II CAMARO

        Herb Adams VSE built Fire-Ams and Cheverras are purpose built concept cars whose heritage is derived directly from GM engineering sponsored programs similar to the “combine” builds of Hurst/Olds, Baldwin/Motion (Vettes, Camaros and Novas) and Nickey, Berger and Yenko.  Using the “F” body platform, Herb Adams (VSE) was able to bring the second generation Camaro - Firebird chassis to a superior performance level to gain world class recognition by matching the best factory and race prepared vehicles including the formidable Porsches.

        Herb Adams and VSE are widely recognized as being pioneers in high performance chassis tuning. GM’s elevated state of chassis tuning today is easily traceable to Herbs initial work which is best known for having gone beyond “muscle” to create a uniquely balanced and highly competitive product.

        There is no hard documentation that speaks to how many Cars and Concepts, VSE or private builder VSE Stage Packages were installed over the years to create Fire- Am or Cheverra vehicles. Nor are there any specifics regarding the break-out of makes, models or years they were applied to.  The range of years spans the entire second generation (1970 – 1981) and all models and performance levels within the Firebird and Camaro line-up.

        Very few VSE Fire-Ams and Cheverras have surfaced over the years but when they do they never disappoint as they still remain highly competitive even in today’s highly advanced technological environment.   VSE Fire-Ams and Camaros are fascinating tuner F-bodies that performed with the best the world had to offer back in the day and looked great doing it. 

        The subject of this report is a Cheverra survivor and a highly collectible car that can still be driven to its limits without fear due to the meticulous level of preparation. At the time of this writing it remains the best known example of a highly competitive VSE equipped, Stage II Camaro Cheverra in existence.




     

Copyright Wayne D. Guinn, 2008
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