Jason MacKenzie’s showstopping big-block Camaro

A 20-year odyssey saw Jason MacKenzie’s Camaro transfigured from burnout bruiser to showstopping boulevard cruiser

Photographers: Ben Hosking

The 2005 Kandos Street Machine & Hot Rod Show was a heartbreaker for Jason MacKenzie. Having been subjected to a 7500rpm limiter over 30-odd burnout comps, a rod in his ’67 Camaro’s 350 Chev finally called it a day. “It didn’t come out the side,’ Jason says. “It went inwards – it smashed the cam into three pieces and destroyed everything!” To rub salt into the wound, he copped jeers from the crowd as he pushed his broken car off the pad. Shattered, and with all available funds supporting his young family, he placed the wounded SIXTY7 into hibernation.

First published in the April 2024 issue of Street Machine

During the eight years it sat untouched, some expressions of interest were put forward. “[My wife] Monique forbade me to sell it,” Jason recounts. “She said, ‘You’ve owned that car since you were 18, and I don’t want have to put up with your regrets.’”

Around 2013, Jason’s finances and motivation were finally reawakened. Off came the covers, and in went a pair of Andrews Race Cars chassis rails and 18-inch wheel tubs, but Monique again stepped in with some sage advice. “If you’re going to do it, do it once and do it right,” she told Jason. “And it’s not going to be a family car!”

Out came the grinder and so did the rear clip and gargantuan tubs, which led to another problem – heaps of the floor and boot were now missing. Add some rust in other areas, and Jason was looking at reproduction versions of pretty much everything! An extensive shopping list was dispatched forthwith to Ponti-World and All Muscle Car Parts.

“The entire floor from the firewall back was replaced; so too were the rear rails, boot floor and rear beaver panel,” Jason says. “It also received new door shells, new guards and a new bonnet. The only original stuff left was the front pillars, sills, turret and rear pillars!”

The immense replacement program enabled Jason to move a few things around. Three-inch-wider, factory-style wheel tubs were used, while the diff hump was moved a few inches rearward to accommodate a crossbar to mount the Strange coil-overs, which work in conjunction with factory-style mono-leaf springs. With Jason having zero desire to return to the burnout pad, he decided to retain the leaves for hassle-free rego.

Taking advantage of his panel-beating background, Jason took care of all the bodywork, panel prep and fabrication at home in his garage. He put a tonne of work into the engine bay; there’s a flat firewall and inner and outer guards were welded into one piece, and any unsightly voids were stylishly blended in. The area around the radiator support also received a swag of smoothing and blending. Jason did all this metal fab with nothing more than a grinder and very basic hand tools.

Big-block power was on the table time around, as Jason had managed to score a block, blower and injector hat while the car sat idle. Damo at BG Engines was tasked with adding the missing bits and finessing it all together.

“I told Damo I wanted to be in the 1000hp club, and he nailed it,” Jason says. “On E85, it made 1045hp at only 9psi. Damo didn’t want to use the factory block, but I didn’t have the $6000 for an aftermarket one. Damo did use good internals; if we upgrade the block we can bump the boost up to 18psi and make around 1400hp, but 1000hp is plenty for street cruising.”

Paul at Matwill Automotive Repairs built the 1000hp-capable Powerglide and carried out a host of other mechanical work, including installing an electric power steering pump and wiring the whole car.

Johnston Speed Shop welded up the chrome-moly nine-inch, which Bosnjak Engineering filled with a Truetrac and 31-spline axles. Johson also mounted up the rear coil-overs, fabricated the 110-litre fuel tank and installed the rollcage, which features removable taxi and door bars. To stop the chassis twisting up and chipping the paint around the ultra-crisp door gaps, downbars run through the firewall to the rails.

Forget about finding the incredible three-layer pearl on any colour chart, because it’s custom. “Pete [Lamb, of Melomotive] and I designed it together,” Jason says. “It took 17 sprayouts to get right.” Gun duties were expertly handled by Justin from Obsession Paint and Bodywork. “I worked with Justin 12 years ago,” Jason says. “He offered to paint the car for me, as well as to use his workshop. He’d always wanted to paint an unveil Top 60 car, and he killed it.”

The colour looks spectacular out in the sun, as do the ghosted SS stripes across the nose. The paint also highlights the 3000 painstaking hours Jason poured into the metalwork and body prep.

“I didn’t build it for burnouts, I didn’t build it to race, and I didn’t build it to win trophies – I just built the car I always wanted,” Jason says. “I might do some off-street drags, but mostly I just want to take the family to as many cruise nights and cars and coffee events as possible.”

Though he initially wanted to keep the car fresh for a year of show touring, temptation got the better of Jason earlier this year. “I had to scratch the itch and took it to Powercruise,” he laughs. “It was only a little itch, so I didn’t go too crazy, but I did blow a set of tyres. Man, it was fun.”

Jason’s been coming to Street Machine Summernats since its 10th running, which he attended with Ed Brodie, who debuted his SMOTY-winning MR HJ to a seven-trophy reception. “The bug bit me all the way back then,” Jason says. “It’s taken me nearly 30 years, but I’ve finally ticked everything off my wishlist. Get into Street Machine – tick. Get unveiled at Summernats – tick. Make the Summernats Top 60 – tick. Winning the High Impact award was just the cherry on top!”

It’s testament that with dogged determination, everything can come to those willing to take the long road.


Paint:Melomotive custom ‘SIXTY7’ green
Brand:489ci Chevrolet
Blower:BDS 8/71
Induction:Mechanical injection
Heads:AFR 305cc alloy
Headers:2.5in primaries to 4in collectors, 3.5in system
Ignition:MSD 6AL
Converter:SDE 4000rpm
Diff:9in, 3.7 gears, 35-spline axles
Tailshaft:3.5in chrome-moly, Sonnax yoke
Front:90/10 shocks, tubular arms
Rear:Caltracs, mono-leaf springs, Strange coil-over shocks
Brakes:Corvette 330mm rotors (f), 280mm rotors (r)
Master:VT Commodore, remote vacuum pump
Rims:RC Components; 17×4.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber:Mickey Thompson; 26×6.00R17 (f), 275/60R15 (r)

Justin at Obsession Paint and Bodywork; Damo at BG Engines; Paul at Matwill Automotive; Bec at Trims by Bec; Seb at Johnston Speed Shop; Pete at Melomotive; Daniel at Killer Finish Paint Correction; Damien and Jason at Lowe Fabrications; Alex at Excel Signs; Kurt at Kevin Waters & Sons Towing; my family: Monique, Jayden and Kaila, for helping me see it through!