WORDS BY: Kelly Lewis @ Garage Zero
In the streets of Atlanta a beast now roams, a savage beast with the heart of dragon and the roar of a lion. This beast is not complicated nor is it polished, it is utilitarian and strong and more closely resembles a battleship than a flashy show car. The beast’s name is Vengeance and it is a 1967 LS7 powered Chevrolet Camaro and the beast’s owner, Amir; a.k.a. “MR. TOTEM”, an Atlanta graffiti artist who took his art to the street and built his own personal empire; is the man behind the dream that inspired the building of this beast.
The build began in the late night collaborations of Amir and John Lewis, owner of GARAGE ZERO; one of the best known shops in the southeast for building old school Japanese cars. John had never aspired to build an American Muscle classic, but when the opportunity arose that he could build a car that so closely reflected the soul of his friend and the owner, he humbly shook Amir’s hand and promised to do his very best.
Garage Zero soon became a war room, with the doors closed and the gates locked, the plans were laid to build a battleship that would dominate, and instill fear and admiration in all who looked upon it. Since no war is won by the Generals alone, a team of Special Forces soldiers was assembled and the build began.
Vengeance Racing was commissioned to build the forged 427 LS7 Motor with custom grind cam and a Precision Metalcraft Manifold. It would be installed with a fully built RPM Motorsports T56 6 speed transmission. While the motor was being built, the ground work began.
The build began as most do, from the ground up. The beast sat in Garage Zero, an ART MORRISON full frame with Corvette components and coil overs, front to back. It had a narrowed, 12 bolt, fully built Moser posi rear end; 3.83 gears and a DSE main hoop cage. John began the build by wiring the chassis, the gauges and the front clip. He worked side by side with Matt Hellion of HELLION CUSTOMS who was fabricating and shaving the engine bay, and squaring off the fender wells.
The steering column was taken from an old school Mazda RX7 (FC) and was modified by John Lewis to fit the Mustang II Type aftermarket Rack and Pinion and it was installed with great pleasure, giving this American Classic a Garage Zero specific Import imprint.
The hydraulic system was then mocked up and custom lines designed by John Lewis were run specifically for the Hydroboost system taken from a late model Chevrolet truck. This fully customized system would power the Wilwood Race spec grade 14 inch, 6 piston brakes and 12 inch 4 pots. The Hydroboost system was then integrated into the power steering system taken from an early model GTO. John then custom fabricated and installed the clutch pedal and “Fly by Wire” accelerator pedal.
The fuel system design started with John giving Amir some welding lessons; as Amir wanted to design and build the cage closeout for the top of the line ATL fuel cell. These lessons, as well as the ability of a customer having hands on experience in the building of his dream car is an exclusive perk to being “in house” at Garage Zero. After the lessons and the resulting top notch closeout cage build by Amir, a Walbro in tank fuel pump was installed followed by custom lines designed specifically for the car by John Lewis. The collaboration was a complete success.
The transmission mock up then started with Matt Hellion custom fabricating the quick release transmission tunnel. The balanced Clutch and Fly Wheel Assembly was installed and the drive train fully assembled then finally, carefully lowered into the beast.
Matt Hellion then went to work to fabricate the space in the passenger front wheel well where the Peterson Dry Sump oiling system would be housed. John worked alongside him running the delivery lines he had designed specifically for the build.
Because no real hot rod build in Atlanta should take place without Brian Fuller of FULLER HOT RODS being involved, or maybe it was simply because no one in Garage Zero welds aluminum, the mounts for the Afco Radiator (designed for Circle Track Racing), were welded by Brian, at Fuller Hot Rods. The Radiator along with the custom coolant delivery system was installed into the beast back at Garage Zero.
During the build process Matt Hellion masterfully accomplished the body work on the car. His artistry includes shaved body seams, front valance and drip rails. He did a 2 inch cowl hood cut and lengthened it to the edge of the hood, as well as lengthened the tunnel and “beak” of the beast. The grill was hand fabricated, not taken from a truck and modified, but rather, each tooth and the outer hoop was designed, cut and tig welded. The entire front end is now a removable one piece unit. The beast was given Audi door handles, the rear bumper was flushed and molded and a custom designed license plate area, complete with brass knuckles was completed. Matt then fabricated and installed custom valve covers, a battery cage for the two Optima Red Top Batteries, and closeout panels for the engine bay.
The custom Carbon Fiber work done on the car was done by Amir’s friend Le (of Ducati fame) at Fule Carbon. This artful touch can be seen in the bumblebee striped nose which is 1 fully functional piece of carbon fiber, custom vision mirrors, custom rear spoiler fabricated from a 1970 Cuda, chin spoiler that is boxed and full carbon and was fabricated using an enlarged stock Camaro spoiler.
The street set of wheels is a one of a kind set, custom made in the minilite style by NewGen wheels. They are three piece wheels that are 19×11 in the front stretching 295’s and 19×14’s in the rear stretching 345’s.
The interior design influence is that of utilitarian Spartan and includes aircraft style toggle switches, race nets instead of side windows and fabricated window straps. It is dynamatted throughout and includes a tubular center console fabricated by Amir. The quick release transmission tunnel by Matt Hellion can be accessed here. The seats are generic and fully adjustable and easily removable thanks to the seat rails that were taken from a Toyota Corolla TE72 and modified for this installation. Yet another Import Imprint into an American Classic!
The exhaust is Art Morrison LS7 headers to three inch straight pipes that end in 3 inch Spintech side exhausts.
The paint on the car is a true reflection of the soul of the owner. It is a $150,000 car build covered with a rattle can paint job. To quote Amir, “F#*k your show paint job, spray paint paid for this car”. In our opinion, it only seems fitting.
With the paint dry and the bill paid, Vengeance rolled out of Garage Zero with well, a vengeance. The doors were reopened and the gate was unlocked. A battleship had been built and the Admiral was at the helm. All was right with the world, and the old school Japanese shop went back to work as usual. This time though, a little wiser and more prepared to build a fleet of LS powered Japanese and American cars. After all, the war will never really end as long as the desire to go faster lives within us all.
14 inch 6 piston big brakes and 12 inch 4 pots.. race spec grade made by Wilwood.
Full custom Hydroboost setup by John of Garage Zero.
Full Art Morrison frame with Corvette components and coilovers.
Grille hand fabricated(not a truck grille cut down, but each bar and outer hoop tig welded)
shaved body seams.
Tunnel and lengthened grille and “beak”
Shaved front valance.
Custom license plate area.
Shaved drip rails.
2 inch cowl hood cut and lengthened to edge of hood.
Flush and molded rear bumper.
Front end now 1 piece.
Fabricated engine bay
Squared off fender wells
Fabricated valve covers.
all wonderfully worked by Matt Hellion.
Bumblebee nose stripe 1 piece full carbon fiber.
CF custom vision mirrors
CF custom rear spoiler made from a 70 cuda.
CF Chin spoiler boxed and full carbon made off a enlarged stock camaro spoiler.
all CF done by Fule Carbon (Man Le)
Spartan is the key here..
Quick release transmission tunnel
Fabricated tubular center console fabricated by myself.
Aircraft style toggle switches.
Dynamat all over
No side windows.. only race nets.
Fabbed window straps.
These arent the race set but heres the breakdown.
Custom made minilite style made by NewGen wheels.
These are the only set ever made.
19×11s in the front.. stretching 275s.
19×14s in the rear.. stretching 345s.
Done by Amir himself.. SPRAYPAINTED.. “fuck a show paintjob
if a shopping cart hits my car.. i dont fall to pieces…
i dont have a clear bra on my front carbon fiber…
i dont have a feather duster…”
Vengeance Racing built Forged 427 LS7
* GM Performance LS7 Aluminum Block(fresh new block)
* Built T56 by RPM motorsports
* Vengeance Racing custom ground cam
* Worked stock LS7 heads
* Precision Metalcraft custom intake manifold
* Callies CompStar Crankshaft(4.100″ Stroke)
* Diamond LS7 4.125″ Bore Forged Piston Set
* Diamond LS1 Moly Ring Pack
* Callies LS1 CompStar Connecting Rods
* Clevite LS1 High Performance Main Bearings
* Clevite SBC High Performance Rod Bearings
* DuraBond LS1 Cam Bearings
* SDPC LS1 Complete Block Hardware Kit
* ARP LS1 Main Stud Kit
* Machine Block Deck Surface
* Align Hone Block W/5 Mains
* Flash Hone w/ Torque Plate
* Jet Clean Block
* Balance Crankshaft – Internal
* Install Cam Bearings
* Install Freeze Plugs
* Pin Fit Pistons
* Pin Fit Rods
RPM Motorsports Built T56 6 Speed Transmission
Narrowed 12 bolt built Moser posi rear end. 3.83 gears.
ATL fuel cell
DSE main hoop cage
Art morrison LS7 headers to 3 inch strait pipes that end in 3 inch Spintech side exhausts
OLD SOUL LIFE
FULLER HOT RODS
THE STREET FIGHTERS