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Customized 2010 Camaro

Chicago-area Chevy guy Bob Delia had a plan

Rich Truesdell - October 13, 2011 10:00 AM

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Ultimately, Bob and Barb’s theme was to build a car that was classy yet sinister, a low-slung modern-day muscle car cruiser

Bob and Barb Delia have been together for 50 years, 46 of those years as husband and wife. Raised in Chicago, Bob relates that Barb was the girl next door that lived two houses down the street.

“It all started on our first date at our high school basketball game followed by a sock hop and we’ve been together ever since.”

Now retired as a commodity broker after a career spanning 37 years, he has more time to dedicate to personalizing his 2010 Camaro. Bob’s bowtie love affair started with a 1958 Chevrolet Del Ray, equipped with a 283 V-8 and stick shift.

Bob learned the craft of car building from a neighbor, Al McKenzie. Their first effort was a Cadillac-powered 1934 Ford five-window coupe. “From my first car, I knew that I was a bowtie guy. I’ve always loved all cars, but favored Chevrolets. The 1958 Chevy was our first cruising car to go to local drag strips like Oswego, U.S. 30 and Union Grove as well as drive-ins, like Skip’s on West North Avenue in Melrose Park and Pie Pan off of the Eden’s Expressway. Boy, those were the days. Rock and roll music with Wolfman Jack and Dick Biondi, a local DJ in Chicago, blared out on our AM radio.”

Bob has owned and, in some instances, raced a brace of Chevys. They include a 1960 Chevy Bel Air 348 four-speed, a 1961 Bel Air bubble top, an iconic 409-powered 1962 Chevy Bel Air, a C/Gas 1956 Chevy, an ultra-rare 1963 Z-11 aluminum front end 427 Impala that he matched raced for extra money, and an NHRA record-holding 1966 modified 427 Corvette. The day arrived when Bob and Barb had to hang up their hobby and devote all of their time and money to raising their three children.

“After the kids were raised and the house was paid for, we needed some focus,” says Bob, “Barb looked at me and we both knew that is was the time to return to the past to pick up where we left off with a hobby that we both loved and cherished.

“Barb and I always had a dream to build a car to compete for the ‘Great Eight Award’ at the Detroit Autorama for the Ridler Award. We decided to take our 1959 Chevy Impala that we purchased from Nicholas Cage.

“In 2006, our dreams came true. We were chosen as one of the Great Eight winning cars competing for the Ridler Award,” says Bob with undeniable pride. “The car was the buzz of the show. Wow, we both cried when the judges came and told us that Friday morning. They even asked if we were OK. What an experience and journey for two kids from the back streets of Chicago that have always been car people from the very beginning.”

Bob and Barb purchased their new-gen Camaro in January of 2010. Bob turned to Kevin Paddock at the performance department desk at Libertyville Chevrolet, and together the two plotted a strategy.

“The gearhead in me started with modifying the engine. We started with an aggressive grind COMP cam and valve assembly adding Kooks long-tube headers with a pair of three-inch Y exhausts and QTP’s electronic exhaust cut-outs. We needed to install an additional Bendix electric fuel pump and bigger lines to get more fuel to the Magnuson TVS2300 polished supercharger.

“The injectors were enlarged and a Roto–Fab cold air package was installed with a functional custom hood air scoop that directs air only to the air intake and lets hot engine air out from the back and sides. We also added a 160-degree thermostat and NGK racing plugs. Keeping the 10.7:1 compression ratio, I elected to just pump six pounds boost for the street. I will change the pulley and retune the car once it is broken in using 10 to 12 pounds boost for our assault on the strip. We dyno tuned and re-calibrated the computer at Speed, Incorporated in Schaumburg, Illinois, making 675hp with only six pounds boost at 7,200 rpm.

“To handle the extra horsepower, we added Granatelli Motors drilled and slotted rotors, Eibach front and rear springs, lowering the car two inches. Improving the handling was no sweat as I installed a custom-made Chassis Max system from Hotchkis. To assure a positive shift from my heavy hand, I added a MGK heavy-duty shifter for the six-speed.

“Over the years, we’ve made some great connections. For the wheels, we contacted Chip Foose to make a set of one-off, three-piece 20-inch wheels for the car. The wheels incorporate the House of Kolor gray color in the fishtail centers with a chrome edge. We selected the Pirelli P-Zero tires front and rear. We will use cheater slicks for our assault on the dragstrip. All of the tire work was done by Berry Tire in Libertyville, Illinois.

“I used Auto Meter gauges on a custom A-pillar mount to keep tabs of things. The car was then given next to Custom Painted Vehicles in Franksville, Wisconsin. It was repainted in BASF Pure Black with eight coats of clearcoat and custom Hugger Orange striping. The optional custom orange leather trim package interior door panels were custom painted with a matching House of Kolor gray to match the car’s exterior strips.

“Custom laser-cut pedals were installed inside. A special trim piece was made for the rear fascia. Several of the car’s exterior parts were color-matched to the body color. Gray accent paint highlighted the side vents. The glass was tinted to the legal limits. A custom sawtooth rear spoiler was added and all of the lights were tinted.”

Ultimately, Bob and Barb’s theme was to build a car that was classy yet sinister, a low-slung modern-day muscle car cruiser that would transport Barb and him back in time to those heady days when the couple was well-known in the greater Chicago racing scene.

As in the past, the car received a name, courtesy of Barb. It’s “Old Rebel” for the old man that still has that rebellious feeling for strong-sounding, good-looking fast Chevys. “I look forward to many more golden years, side-by-side with my wonderful wife, sharing our passion for cars,” says Bob.

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