Jason Blain’s 1968 Camaro Carries a Lifetime of Memories
“It was a very Arkansas design—the front bumper was off, it had Cragar wheels—fat in the back and skinny up front, and the back end was lifted really high via two long air shocks.”
That’s how Jason Blain describes his 1968 Camaro when his dad brought it home from a Jonesboro, Arkansas, used car lot back in 1987. “My dad paid $2,650 for the car, which was actually in decent shape,” Jason recalls. “The body wasn’t perfect, but there were no major issues and the car actually ran OK. The paint was passable, and if you looked close enough in certain areas, you could see the original Rally Green paint and some sort of red color underneath that.”
Not long after, Jason and his dad found a used front bumper then added front and rear spoilers, leveled the car with the proper shocks, and bolted up a set of original-style rally wheels with BFGoodrich rubber. “This was my first car. I got it when I was 15 and couldn’t even drive it without an adult accompanying me. It then became my daily driver up until halfway through my freshman year in college,” Jason says. “I have so many great memories with it—first dates, homecomings, football games, the first day of college, and all the stuff teenagers do in cars. But the most memorable day was when I turned 16 and was able to drive the car by myself to school for the first time. It was that big moment of independence.”
With so many great times, including a bit of teenage hijinks, the car was garaged after Jason’s first year of college. Although it sat stagnant for about 30 years, Jason held onto the car (thankfully), leaving it totally unmolested. He had no plans to sell it, as there were too many good memories to hold onto, and he knew one day an itch would need scratchin’.
The time finally came for Jason to update the car and get it back on the road, but he didn’t want to interrupt the car’s original vibe—he even wanted to contain some of that early ’90s aura. “I wanted to bring the car up to date on the functionality side, which meant modern power, driveline, and suspension components,” Jason says. “But I also wanted to hold onto the flavor of the car as it was when I was 16.
Jason reached out to the crew at Roadster Shop (RS) to collaborate with on a direction of the restoration/upgrade process. “For me, the most difficult decision was during the early stages of the design development. Jason recalls, “I was torn between keeping an original look and incorporating some of the creative modifications the Roadster Shop guys are known for. Ultimately, we decided on keeping it fairly true to how it was back in the day while integrating a few upgrades I had always wanted, like a cowl hood and RS headlights.”
Starting with power, the fatigued small-block made way for a 430hp Chevrolet Performance crate LS3 engine, as updating driveability and reliability was high priority. Dressed with a Holley top-mount intake, Billet Specialties small-block to LS valve cover adaptors, chrome air cleaner, and Chevy Orange–painted block, is a veneer to the engine’s modern attributes. A Holley mid-mount serpentine system drives the accessories while doing little to upset the engine’s traditional small-block look.
Ultimate Headers stainless LS mid-length headers send waste to an RS-built 3-inch stainless custom exhaust topped with Borla Pro XS mufflers, which slightly soften the car’s vocal intensity.
A 4L60 transmission accepts the engine’s capacity while influencing the Strange 9-inch rearend armed with 31-spline axles, 3.70 gears, and an Eaton Truetrac differential—an effective collaboration in keeping the F-body in tune with the road.
The RS gang took the reins and scrapped the original suspension bits (the whole frame actually) and bolted in an RS SPEC chassis featuring RS-valved Fox single-adjustable shocks front and rear. Baer brakes were commissioned to scrub speed and feature 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front, while 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers oblige out back.
Designed by RS, the Forgeline RS-5 five-spoke wheels preserve the Camaro’s vintage spirit while their sizes (18×9 front, 19×11.5 rear) take a full stride into modern Pro Touring stylings. The massive Michelin Super Sport rubber (255/35R18, 325/30R19) give the Camaro an aggressive demeanor.
Speaking of demeanor, at first glance the interior appears to be a freshened-up factory scene, but closer inspection reveals a highly customized cockpit featuring modern elements tied together with the vintage motif. Avant-Garde Design restyled the interior with custom door panels, center console, kick panels, and a fresh dash. It’s all new but retains the familiar setting to keep Jason feeling nostalgic. Dakota Digital RTX gauges look the part and monitor engine vitals, while a Nardi Classic Mahogany steering wheel adds to the classic vibe.
On the outside it would appear the RS crew dialed back on the extreme body mods it is commonly known for, yet the tasteful subtleties become more evident when you take notice of the shaved and tucked bumpers, deleted marker lights, and enlarged and re-shaped front lower valance openings. RS fiberglass deep front inner fenders accommodate the imposing wheel-and-tire combo up front, while Detroit Speed mini-tubs welcome the huge rolling stock out back. Even less obvious, but still contributing to the package is the RS trunk latch kit, the Ringbrothers hood hinges, and the amber LED running/turn signal lights stationed in the grille.
“I wanted to keep the car black—the color it was when I first got it. Only this time without the thin areas and being able to see the previous two paintjobs,” Jason chuckles. RS obliged. They took the body down to metal and diligently smoothed the imperfections into perfections and then doused the shell in BASF Glasurit Black pigment. The deep, mirror-like finish carries the black perfectly, while Advanced Plating took the chrome and polished bits to the next level, which accentuates the car’s remarkable finish.
Jason’s initial hesitation on modifying the Camaro is understandable, but when the perfect balance of old-school style and modern ingenuity collide, Jason puts it like this, “The car looks great and runs and drives amazing. I now have the 1968 Camaro I’ve always wanted.”
Type: GM LS3
Displacement: 376 ci
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Bore: 4.065 inches
Stroke: 3.622 inches
Cylinder Heads: Aluminum L92-style port with 68cc chambers
Rotating Assembly: Nodular Iron crankshaft, Powdered metal connecting rods, Hypereutectic aluminum pistons
Valvetrain: Stock GM LS3
Camshaft: GM Hydraulic roller, (0.551/0.522 lift, 204/211 deg. duration at 0.050)
Induction: Holley single-plane EFI
Accessory Drive System: Holley mid-mount serpentine
Exhaust: Ultimate Headers stainless LS mid-length headers, custom RS 3-inch stainless exhaust, Borla Pro XS mufflers
Ancillaries: Billet Specialties small-block valve cover to LS adaptors, C&R radiator module, Rock Valley S/S fuel tank, American Autowire Highway 22 harness, Ringbrothers hood hinges
Output: 430 hp at 5,900 rpm, 425 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm
Transmission: GM 4L60
Rear Axle: Strange Engineering 9-inch, 31-spline axles, Strange Pro Nodular Iron case third member, Eaton Truetrac, 3.70 gears
Chassis: Roadster Shop SPEC chassis
Front Suspension: Roadster Shop Fox single-adjustable coilovers
Rear Suspension: Roadster Shop Fox single-adjustable coilovers
Brakes: Baer 14-inch, six piston front, 12-inch four piston rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: RS-5 Forgeline, 18×9 front, 19×11.5 rear
Tires: Michelin Super Sport 255/35R18 front, 325/30R19 rear
Upholstery: Black loop carpet
Seats: RECARO Expert S
Steering Wheel: Nardi
Shifter: Stock Replacement Horseshoe
Dash: Custom by Avant-Garde Design (Palm City, FL)
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital RTX
HVAC: Vintage Air
Bodywork and Paint: Roadster Shop
Paint: BASF Glasurit Black
Hood: Dynacorn Cowl
Grille: Stock RS with LED turn signals
Bumpers: Factory shaved and tucked
Chrome and Polishing: Advanced Plating