Badder is Better at D&Z Customs

April 20, 2016

Nitto Drivingline feature D&Z Customs’73 Camaro features TREMEC T-56 Magnum 6-speed manual transmission

Driving Line Magazine / Curtis Cummings / April 12, 2016

(Photo courtesy of Robert McGaffin | Driving Line Magazine)

During the muscle car golden era, Detroit focused on horsepower and attitude. Suspension and brakes weren’t a real priority as far as factory development was concerned. Building a big block road terror with drum brakes and late 40’s-era suspension technology was standard practice for the Big Three and in some ways just added to the badass factor of the primal street racers. One thing that couldn’t be improved was the styling and profile of the classic muscle cars. With NASCAR glory on everyone’s mind, many of the hulking V-8 coupes evolved into wind-cheating fastbacks. Even the mid-sized pony cars were big and intimidating. Today, classic muscle cars are worth big bucks. Collectors who have spent years wanting a particular model are often surprised by the primitive ride quality and performance once they attain their dream car.

Randy Johnson isn’t the type of guy who settles. A car nut since childhood, early-on he earned a reputation for seeking to maximize performance in the cars he was drawn to. Those cars were usually Camaros. “Almost 20 years ago I built a ’70 Camaro. I did some typical things, put in a big block/turbo 400, messed with the springs. And I used 17” wheels, which were a new thing at that time.  There was no shop, I just did it to feed my car addiction. “It just went from there. I liked the way the car felt, but I thought it could go a lot further. I just explored ways to set it up on my own, by trial and error.”

In 2007 Randy and his wife decided to just jump in with both feet and open their own shop. D&Z Customs was born.

Randy is a big fan of second-gen Camaros. Sourcing an unmolested ’73, he decided to construct an all-out no-compromise Pro Touring track beast that would showcase everything that D&Z was capable of producing. A 680hp LS7 was just the beginning. RideTech springs and shocks bolt to a Heidts Pro-G subframe, and a Tremec T-56 does the shifting. Huge 14in Wilwood discs up front and 10in stoppers in back take care of fade issues while racking up laps. Nitto tires keep the car on the proper line and the green monster even boasts a sound system and a/c for those warm track days. Randy constructed a custom carbon fiber hood with deep channels to function as a heat extractor as well as custom front and rear spoilers.

From messing around alone in his garage to a nationally prominent expert builder in Resto Mod/Pro Touring/Autocross, Randy Johnson still enjoys every day in the shop and out on the track. “I’m one of the lucky guys who managed to turn a passion into a business."

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