Thump in the Night

Dan Miller’s Pro Street ’71 Camaro

By Scotty Lachenauer   –   Photography by the Author

“The first time I saw this ’71 RS Camaro for sale, it just caught my eye. I checked it out and unfortunately the owner and I couldn’t agree on a price, so I had to walk away. I thought that was the end of the story, but luckily, we would meet again a few months later,” Dan Miller states.

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Being a Chevy guy through and through, Dan has several other toys to keep him happy. “I have a sweet ’67 RS SS Camaro that I’ve owned for the past 15 years. It’s an L35 396 big-block car that I enjoy driving,” Dan mentions. “I also have an ’81 Z28 I’ve owned since high school, I have a super-rare Rally Green Metallic ’20 ZL1 1LE, and I have a ZL1 convertible in Wild Cherry Tintcoat. As you can tell, I’m a Bowtie fan—have been ever since I was a kid.”

008 Rear End 1971 Camaro

THE OBJECT OF DESIRE: Luis and Boni Rosa’s ’67 Pro Street Camaro SS

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The next spring, Dan’s good buddy Ed was selling his box Nova. The man interested in purchasing it turned out to be the owner of the same ’71 Camaro Dan had checked out months earlier. His buddy texted him a shot of the Camaro for sale. That got Dan going again, so a three-way deal was negotiated and the Nova was handed over to the new owner, who in turn sold Dan the car he was after. “I don’t know if it was just dumb luck, but this car found me, and I wasn’t going to let it get away a second time,” Dan reveals.

001 1971 Camaro

Once back at the home garage, Dan checked out his new purchase. It’s a true RS split bumper car, which was cut up into a race car sometime in the late ’70s. It had a stock front suspension, a race bucket seat, race shifter, and a push start. The 496 in it was healthy and came with a big cam.

024 Z28 Badge 1971 Camaro

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The Camaro looked like a winner, but the problem was that it had so much cam in it that it made it a bear to drive. The brakes were also insufficient, and it had manual steering to boot. So, in March 2022, the car was handed off to good friends Dave Acker, Steve Roe, and Mike MaCallion of A&W Performance Racing in Tullytown, Pennsylvania. “They started the first phase of things needed to make this Camaro safe for me to drive,” Dan says.

The front suspension was built up first, using QA1 tubular control arms and coilover shocks at the corners. Most of the parts for phase one were purchased from Mike Klemczak at K&M Speed & Truck in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

023 Wilwood Caliper 1971 Camaro

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Next, A&W installed a Hydro Boost braking system with Wilwood discs front and back. Power steering was a necessary item for Dan, which was added along with Moser axles, thicker ladder bars, and safety tabs.

The Camaro was starting to come around and Dan enjoyed driving it throughout the following summer. Then he decided to go all out, so he brought it back to A&W for the final phase: the powerplant transformation.

010 Custom Engine Bay 1971 Camaro

Back in 2019, Dan’s brother died suddenly of a heart failure. “He had an 871 BDS blower engine out of his ’69 Chevelle SS that I received after his death,” Dan says. “I decided that engine would be the new heart for my Camaro. However, we decided to go bigger, starting with a Dart 540 M-block and adding a roller cam and keeping the Dart 345 heads and a pair of Holley Dominators to help feed this beast.”

012 Custom Intake 1971 Camaro

It was important to Dan that this engine run on pump gas for driveability and it also needed to run cool. He added a Be Cool radiator with dual fans on a digital temperature control to keep the heat down. All that power is shifted by a Turbo 400, built up with a reverse manual valvebody and a trans brake. It feeds a Chevy 12-bolt stuffed with Moser internals and 4.88 gears.

016 Custom Interior 1971 Camaro

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A&W did a fuel system makeover and added NOS to this already potent setup. New, more comfortable TMI low-back bucket seats with race belts were added next, along with a more stock-appearing interior. The crew even went a step further by obtaining a stock console to which they added a B&M shifter (with nitrous button) to get this beast through the gears. A Dakota Digital dash insert and gauges keep track of the vitals, and the extra switches control the nitrous and the fuel pump out back.

004 Black 1971 Camaro

Once the engine was installed, Dan had to think of how to present the incredible piece of eye candy in the engine bay. “Camaros ’70 and up didn’t come with a cowl hood,” Dan states. “So I went with a Glasstek flat hood so we could see more of my brother’s heart hanging out of the hood. A&W did a great job cutting around the blower while Mike Carr from K&M Speed & Truck painted the hood and laid down the matching stripes. Fred from Body Work by Bernard in Bristol, Pennsylvania, smoothed out the firewall to perfection.”

022 Drag Slicks 1971 Camaro

Out on the corners, Dan added Weld Racing V Series forged rims, 17×4.5 up front with huge 15×15 rims out back, which give this Camaro the stance and look he was after. They are shod in Hoosier rubber, 26×7.50-17 and 31×18.50-15, respectively. From there the car was dialed in, with Dan cautiously taking the Camaro out on the streets to break it in. In a few short trips, the car was now everything he had hoped it would be, propelled with the help of Dan’s brother’s prized powerplant.

014 Custom Headers 1971 Camaro

“A hearty ‘Thanks’ goes out to all those who helped make this dream a reality,” Dan announces. “First, to Amanda O’Connell for allowing me to chase and indulge my passion. Second, to all the crews who helped build this beast: A&W Performance Racing, K&M Paint, K&M Speed, CG Airworks, Jeff Barber Powdercoating, Nickerson’s Dyno, Edward C. Begley, Bob Meloni, Penn Jersey, Bowen Carburetors, Tire City, Rob’s Automotive, Scotty (the author), and Body Work by Bernard.”

021 Sequential Shifter 1971 Camaro

Dan sums it up this way: “In one short year almost to the day, this old drag car is now a killer streetcar. Not only does it show well but it now definitely goes as well.” This car is, without a doubt, a real-deal, street-driven, Pro Street–styled RS Camaro that will definitely grab your attention and make you take notice.”

007 Passenger 1971 Camaro

TECH CHECK
Owner: Dan Miller, Bristol, Pennsylvania
Vehicle: ’71 Camaro RS

Engine
Type: Dart M big-block
Block: Aluminum
Displacement: 540 ci
Compression Ratio: 8.91:1
Bore: 4.50
Stroke: 4.25
Cylinder Heads: Dart 345 Pro 1 heads
Rotating Assembly: Eagle forged crank and rods, JE blower pistons
Camshaft: A&W custom grind hydraulic roller cam
Induction: Two 1,050-cfm Holley Dominator carburetors
Ignition: MSD
Exhaust: Doug’s ceramic-coated headers
Power Adder: BDS 8.71 blower
Output (at crank): 830 hp (pump gas) 1,100 hp (race fuel) without NOS
 
Drivetrain
Transmission: Turbo 400
Rear Axle: GM 12-bolt with 4.88 gears

Chassis
Frame: Stock
Front Suspension: QA1 tubular control arms, QA1 coilover shocks
Rear Suspension: Strange double-adjustable coilover shocks
Brakes: Wilwood 13-inch rotors and six-piston calipers front and rear

Wheels & Tires

Wheels: Weld Racing V Series 17×4.5 front, 15×15 rear
Tires: Hoosiers; 26×7.50-17 front, 31×18.50-15 rear

Interior
Upholstery: Stock
Seats: TMI low back buckets
Steering: Stock
Shifter: B&M
Dash: Stock, Dakota Digital insert, Dakota Digital gauges

Exterior

Bodywork: N/A
Paint By: N/A
Paint: Black
Hood: Glasstek bolt-on flat hood
Bumpers: Stock

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