WARNING, this feature car article is about to take us down a highly opinionated and philosophical journey on the future of Pro Street cars.
It is hard to argue that the gearheads of my generation got turned onto the Pro Street movement by Rick Dobbertin’s blue Nova and Rod Saboury’s 69 Camaro. They were a huge hit in the 80’s and were a staple at all of the major shows.
To describe this movement in a nutshell, a backhalved and tubbed trunk made room for a massive set of steam rollers. A trunk mounted fuel cell, rollcage, and lastly a behemoth engine that was most likely protruding from the hood just like the funny cars it was styled after. The paint at this time usually consisted of a three or four multi colored graphic. (once again mimicking its race car roots) The interior was either stock or was as race car as possible with aluminum panels and every gauge under the sun.
That formula stood true for every Pro Street until it was declared “dead” by a not so clairvoyant car publication. The only significant changes to the Pro Street movement during this time were the actual types of cars used. Builders dared to deviate from the classic 60’s muscle cars, new cars, imports, and even pick up trucks were all molded into Pro Street monsters before its so called demise.
Like I mentioned in my opening paragraph this will become highly opinionated and philosophical. So let’s get to it! In my humble opinion I have adopted the JT’s Theory Of Pro Street Evolution as the source for this. In the 80’s, I was still in high school. Sure I wanted to build a Pro Street monster but had very little money. I made my first car as Pro-Streetable as possible but it never came close to Rick’s Nova or Rod’s Camaro. I believe most everyone my age that was into Pro Street shared that exact same dilemma. If you had money or came from a wealthy family, chances are you looked down on the Pro Street movement and drove something more refined and exotic.
After high school we all either went to college, joined the military, or jumped right into the workforce. Whichever way you went, there was absolutely no money or time left over to build a Pro Street car. That is my philosophy on why Pro Street faded as fast as it appeared. Now read very closely……. Faded and DEAD are two totally different beliefs.
I wasn’t able to build my dream Pro Street car until my late 40’s. The spark never died it just took a back seat to life and raising a family. Words cannot explain the jubilant feeling I had that year attending every major show with Big Red. At each event I was taken back to the 80’s, reliving my high school days. It was really cool to see how many classic Pro Street cars were in attendance. May I add that most every one of them was owned by a gearhead my age. (give or take 4 years) You see, my theory and philosophy is based on data and not just opinion.
I was actually happy that things had not changed much in the thirty years it took me to build my car. That was the look and the type of build that I fell in love with in my teens. It’s only fair that I got to enjoy it. That all came to a parachute pulling, negative g-force stop at a show I attended at Maple Grove Raceway. As luck would have it, I was parked directly next to the most stunning, gorgeous, innovative, and impressive 1970 Camaro I have ever seen. When I powered my car down and climbed my way out of my roll cage, I actually saw rays of light coming down from heaven shining on this car. If I recall, I even heard angelic music emanating from its custom made body. (maybe it was the turbo’s whining) but nonetheless still angelic. It was extremely hard trying to be as cool as possible and keep myself together while drooling over this thing of beauty. So I did the typical guy thing. When I saw the owner I gave him a head nod with a very nonchalant “nice car.” He said the same to me and that’s how it went for the rest of the day.
It is incredible how the tin work in the engine bay actually looks like it has been covered in a matching colored leather just like the interior. It is hard to believe it is painted!
I knew I had witnessed the 2nd coming of Pro Street but was too overwhelmed to make any sense of it at the time. He went on to win “Best Pro-Engineered” and I won “Best Pro Street.” We both went on our merry way home. That is until the next few shows I attended. With each passing show, I spent more time looking and asking questions. At one point I even asked him if I could sit in it. He replied with a happy, “absolutely as long as I could sit in yours.” Over the next few years we crossed paths numerous times with our cars and with each visit I noticed something different about his car that kept setting it apart from the rest. This car was stretched, smoothed, re-shaped, re-engineered, and had an interior that looked like Bentley made a race car. I became more than just a fan. If this car was the 2nd coming of Pro Street, I was a disciple!
If Bentley ever made a race car interior, it would probably look like this.
Yes this is a custom made stainless steel cup holder.
What, your twin turbo'd Camaro doesn't have one?
Come On! If this does not provoke some sense of testosterone induced gearhead rash then maybe you should drive a Prius.
I didn’t get to fully appreciate the true magnitude of this build until I held our 1st Annual RPM Pro Street Palooza at South Mountain Raceway. Jef Fern graced our show with his stunning Camaro. While judging his car (and everyone else's) I had the opportunity to look at every inch of the car. Every subtle nuance, every innovative idea, and every attention to detail. This car truly is a Game Changer. It has and will continue to inspire a new generation of Pro Streeters for years to come. Oh wait! Did I mention that he is not done with it yet? As with all of us and our cars, bigger, better, badder, faster, lighter and safer are included in our list of future upgrades. The only difference with Jef is that he wants all of that plus, silky, smooth, classy, elegant, refined, and unique added to the mix.
Jef Fern and his game changing 1970 Camaro went on to win a few categories at our Pro Street Palooza. His car without a doubt set the standard for how to bring the best, most muscular and testosterone driven things from Pro Street and merge them with the class and elegance of a Bentley. This of course is just one man’s opinion and one man’s theory of the evolution of the Pro Street movement. I encourage you to sit back and enjoy the following pictures of what I think truly makes this car a Game Changer.