Again On The Avenue & Badder Than Ever: The Hardcore Pandem ’70 Camaro


When a automobile has an excellent backstory hooked up to it, it actually provides it some character. Not {that a} 1970 Pandem-kitted Chevy Camaro actually wants any assist in that division.

Its proprietor, and head honcho of Hardcore Tokyo, Junichi Takahashi (higher often known as Jun) additionally oozes character. The Camaro is Jun-san’s private challenge influenced by a lifetime digesting Japanese and American punk tradition. It’s about as removed from his R33 drift automobile as you might get, however each are incarnations of Jun-san’s eclectic tastes and appreciation of all automobile tradition.


Jun-san spent his 30s dwelling in New York Metropolis, returning to Japan each three months to resume his passport. Whereas based mostly stateside, he turned closely influenced by the US drag racing scene, and have become significantly excited by an 1/eighth mile Outlaw class for muscle vehicles, which had been restricted to small 26×8.5 rear tyres.


This was again within the mid-2000s, when drag racing was nonetheless huge in Japan, so when Jun-san lastly returned to his homeland, he wasted no time in search of out a third era 1990 Camaro Z28, after which headed for the closest drag strip.

After a 10-year run, the Z28 was sentenced to the scrappers and Jun-san picked up the second-gen ’70 Camaro you see right here. However that is the place the story takes a flip. Name it destiny if you’ll, however there’s each chance that if issues had of gone in a different way, the automobile could not have materialised into the beast it’s at the moment.


All of it went bitter the second after Jun bought the Camaro. As in most international locations, a switch of possession must be accomplished when a sale is made, however unbeknownst to Jun-san on the time, the Camaro wasn’t coming with any official documentation – it had been misplaced. He and the vendor had a right away diversion of parallel views and subsequently misplaced any line of communication, primarily leaving Jun-san with an enormous muscle car-shaped paperweight.


To ensure that Jun-san to register the Camaro in his identify, it was now as much as him to trace down the automobile’s final registered proprietor and have them reissue new paperwork. This finally occurred – it simply took 10 lengthy years!

All through this time although, Jun-san by no means misplaced religion and began rebuilding the automobile anyway – one thing his good good friend Kei Miura from TRA Kyoto – the corporate behind Rocket Bunny/Pandem – in the end performed an enormous half in it.


Each Jun-san and Miura-san have spent appreciable time outdoors Japan, accumulating experiences, views and concepts from internationally. The Camaro is simply as effectively travelled, and having lived in Japan virtually half its life now, you might say it’s most likely extra Japanese than it’s American.


Because the paired lounged round TRA Kyoto excited about what to construct for the 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon, Jun-san confessed he had a Camaro stashed away. Miura-san additionally had a confession: He had lengthy admired Trans Am and NASCAR racers, and had at all times wished to design and manufacture Pandem physique kits for choose muscle vehicles. The pair agreed on the theme and Miura-san bought a Pontiac Firebird the very subsequent day.


Over the subsequent 12 months, over fenders, spoilers and lips had been designed for at least 4 American muscle vehicles – Miura-san’s Firebird, Jun-san’s Camaro, plus a Mustang and Corvette, all of which made their debut at TAS 2023.


Each the Firebird and the Camaro characteristic smoothly-contoured fender flares, one thing slightly completely different to the bolt-on type everyone knows. Jun-san says that they wished to pay homage to the vast and clean type of ’70s muscle automobile racers, which is timeless, and I feel we will all agree that it’s labored very effectively.


The ‘Pandem 70 Camaro’ went underneath the knife at J.Beat Customized Store in Saitama, who fastidiously blended the Pandem FRP onto the physique earlier than respraying the entire automobile pure white.


Below the hood, old fashioned drag-spec muscle automobile vibes are robust. The 402ci huge block V8 is mated to a Muncie 4-speed transmission and a 12-bolt diff with an LSD and three.97 closing drive. Customized valve covers are completed off with laser-etched logos, simply in case you overlook what you’re taking a look at.


After I first noticed footage of the automobile, I puzzled why the roll cage was so tight in opposition to the steering wheel. ‘Absolutely that have to be a ache?’ I believed. It seems, that is one other nod to muscle automobile historical past, because the roll cages in previous Trans Am race vehicles had been constructed this manner. It’s important to love the authenticity.


The Camaro seems to be nothing in need of menacing. An up to date Heidts 4-link suspension equipment and the traditional, crazy-wide RS Watanabe Eight Spoke wheels – measuring 15×10.5-inch and 15×12-inch entrance and rear respectively, and wrapped up in Mickey Thompson rubber – enhance the look and drivability of the automobile significantly.


All the things about Jun-san’s Camaro is good – its new proportions, its stance, the wheel and tyre fitment, and the sound.

This can be a modified American muscle automobile with a customized Japanese twist, and after 15 years of possession – however simply two years of registration – Jun-san is lastly making up for misplaced time – behind the wheel after all.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_


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