Black Lightning

Posted: 19th August 2013 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography, The Toads At The Sportsplex
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I love cars.  Yep, I know, this is a total shock and surprise to many of you, but it’s true.  I love them all.  Some of them really stand out to me more than others, almost always due to some strange connection I have with them from a youth spent under the hood.  At one point in the mid-eighties one of my best friends showed up to the party with something truly special, a car that would become a huge part of the fabric of the times for us, one we spent countless hours cruising around in and getting into all sorts of trouble.  This was also known as having a bunch of fun.  So when we found the Show and Shine going on at the Sportsplex facility in Duncan, it was all I could do to jump out of our car with Mrs. Toad in tow for another rousing rendition of “let’s spot the muscle car!”  It’s much bigger than me, I just can’t help it.

2nd Generation Supercharged Camaro - Duncan, BC, Canada

2nd Generation Supercharged Camaro – Duncan, BC, Canada –

This is a very late-model 2nd generation supercharged Camaro.  What could one possibly do to a classic Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 to make it faster and badder than it was in its original shape?  Bolt something deadly serious under the hood, that’ll do it.

My friend’s car was a 1981 Camaro Z/28 with the t-roof option.  His had the fabled 350ci small block engine, a 4 speed manual transmission and the much-needed 10 bolt posi-traction rear-end to try to harness those ponies to the ground.  We bombed around this island for years in that car, and over time it literally became one of the family.  All kinds of great memories are treasured from this time and today when I see one of these cars it immediately gets my heart racing.

Mrs. Toad and I arrived at the car show this year a tad bit on the late side of things.  This had two effects; one was some of the cars had packed up and left already, and the other was we almost had the place to ourselves!  From across the field I saw this car and pretty much made a beeline for it.  It was a chance to connect with something special.

2nd Generation Supercharged Camaro - Duncan, BC, Canada

2nd Generation Supercharged Camaro – Duncan, BC, Canada –

For the old-school hot rod fanatic this is a wonderful scene.  What we’ve got here is a completely built Chevrolet V8 with a Roots-style blower strapped on top to add a little something-something to the equation.  The belt we see here is run directly off the crankshaft, resulting in immediate and plentiful boost for the intake cycle.  These old blowers were originally designed in 1860 as an air pump for use in blast furnaces, and when the design was ported over to the automotive field it became a huge success and a favorite for hot-rodders the world over.  Even though the bright red MSD ignition box is clearly visible, this application can easily be applied to engines utilizing carburetors, as is seen here.  These simple designs are easy to create, work on and maintain, making them favorites for budget-conscience speed aficionados even today.

A crowd favorite, the distinctive whine from these superchargers is unmistakable.  I can hear one of these whines from miles away, even with less than perfect hearing, and Mrs. Toad knows exactly why my head whips around when we’re out and about…  I seem to have a built-in radar for this sort of thing.

2nd Generation Supercharged Camaro - Duncan, BC, Canada

2nd Generation Supercharged Camaro – Duncan, BC, Canada –

There’s no point in having an abundant supply of serious horsepower if you can’t get it all to the ground.  In the early days of hot-rodding this was a huge challenge for us; trying to get the cars launched and booking down the road without sitting in one spot and wearing out a very expensive set of tires in one sitting.  Of course, we sometimes did this on purpose, but it was critical to have the choice.

This fire-breathing Camaro sports a few classic elements that also serve as functional items.  The big, wide tires, especially in the back, were hallmarks of a powerful car with fast aspirations.  Dual exhaust with chrome tips gave the sense of speed and power, even when the car was sitting still.

Engines designed to be supercharged tend to have a few key elements that are important for their ability to create power reliably.  Low compression forged pistons are typically used in these designs, as the massive increase in pressure from the forced-induction can be rather hard on a bottom end.  The cam shaft usually is cut with aggressive lobes with an eye towards making all the power in the upper end of the RPM range.  This creates that “lope lope” sound that built V8’s are so famous for.

For me, the harder a time an engine has in keeping an idle, the more I love it.  It almost always is a harbinger of something rather nasty and serious living under the hood, which will create elicit howls of power and drama if a proper amount of gas pedal is applied.  I was lucky enough to be at the show at the time this car’s owner flashed it up, and this seemed to be the perfect time to try to capture a short video to share with everyone a little of the experience.

Click here to see video if it doesn’t appear in your browser

As you’re watching this video, keep your eyes open and trained on those little red butterflies at the top of the supercharger.  You can see them flip open a couple of times, very very quickly, as the car owner is feathering the gas pedal.  In a race, those butterflies would open wide and stay that way the entire length of the run as the engine tries to consume as much gas and air as possible.

At a time well before the advent of computer systems and digital fuel injection, this sort of platform was considered to be the king of the drag-strip.  Frequently things would blow up, and sometimes that would happen in spectacular fashion, but this was all part of the whole thing behind being a car enthusiast.  The sense of danger and fire and speed and noise is an allure for those of us who love this sort of thing.  In some ways I think it helps keep us all young.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share in our story and photographs today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have.

This post is part of our running photoblog series “The Toads At The Sportsplex“.

  1. avatar Keith says:

    I love how much you love the old muscle cars. Sorry to say that I never owned one. In college a friend of mine had a big badass Black GTO and it was always a super thrill being in the cockpit of that one.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Those GTO’s were right nasty, Keith, one of my favorite muscle cars to say the least! Thanks for taking the time to pop on by and see us here today, and for leaving your great comments for everyone to enjoy!!

  2. avatar Edith Levy says:

    I had to show this post to my husband. He loved it. Your love for these cars really comes out through your photographs. Wonderfully done.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      That just means so very much to us here, Edith, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! I just love these cars so they are easy for me to talk about, that’s for sure. We really appreciate all your support my friend, you’re the best! 😀

  3. avatar LensScaper says:

    Wow, what a fantastic Muscle car.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Andy! Yep, I’d never kick that baby outta the garage for leaking oil, that’s for sure! Many thanks for your kind visit my friend!

  4. Love that first shot !!! and the Video is killer, love the sound of a blower! great work!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Mike, that means a TON to us coming from you my friend! You sir, are one class act!

  5. avatar Jim Nix says:

    holy cow that’s awesome, love it!

  6. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Man oh man, how I love these old muscle cars. Really takes me back to those wonderful times. This is one awesome beast and you’ve captured it superbly, Toad.

    That top shot is ready for a wall space. 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      OK now, that’s a huge compliment right there Jimi, thank you so very much!! Sure do appreciate it!

  7. Good looking to say the least. As always your car shooting style brings out the car’s best features. The first photograph is a favorite, just a beautiful Camaro portrait

  8. avatar ehpem says:

    Another nice set Toad. Your love for these cars really shines through each time you post about them.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      It’s in my blood and I just love sharing these with everyone so much! Thank you for your kind kind comments my friend!