Car modifications come in all shapes and sizes. Where some enthusiasts would be content with adding some interior details, a little bit of power or a spiffy new paint job to their cars, JCG Restorations & Customs in Oxnard, California offered Karl Dunn the complete package- a first-gen Camaro so unique that it would take hours to pour over all its details.
Dubbed Blu Balz, “Because it’s blue and you have to have a pair of stones to drive it,” owner of JCG Restorations & Customs Cris Gonzalez told us in a phone interview, the ‘68 Camaro is the epitome of a muscle car enthusiast’s wet dream. In talking with Gonzalez, we could tell that the car was more than just modified sheet metal and boosted power, however. It was built with passion, the type of which you might see crawl over the face of a child on their first visit to Disney Land.
We first heard about Blu Balz through the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association. One look at the pictures and we knew we had to know more, so we contacted Gonzalez to give us the scoop on the immense build project. So what all did JCG do to the car? “Everything and anything,” according to Gonzalez.
After Dunn, a Tennessee resident, found JCG Restorations & Customs all the way across the country on Lateral-G.net, he had the car delivered to Gonzalez to begin what would turn out to be the car of both men’s dreams in just 14 months.
JCG Restorations & Customs took customization to a whole new level with Blu Balz. From a custom billet grill to a custom billet tail panel, this first-gen Camaro has a personality like no other. Images: Cris Gonzalez
“The car was purpose built,” Gonzalez told us. The idea was to have a car that could be driven daily as well as raced at area autocross events. And of course, the car had to be beautiful. With that came tons of customization.
Stretched on all four corners, the Camaro shares a unique stance with old-school Trans-Am racers. “I’m a big fan of the Penske Trans Am car,” Gonzalez told us, giving the car a theme to pursue.
With practically everything done in-house, JCG equipped the car with a custom spoiler and custom billet grill, adding touches like flush mount taillights in a custom billet tail panel and moving the signal lights into the headlights for the perfect aesthetic personality.
If you were to try to count how many one-off components JCG made for the Camaro, you’d be counting for days.
The modern Corvette Z06 Jet Stream Blue exterior paint is complimented by a carbon fiber hood, cowl panel and header panel.The car even has tow hooks in the front, paying homage to the racers of yesteryear.
“We followed the rendering exactly,” Gonzalez said regarding the original car design drawn by Ben Hermance.
While the body modifications and sheet metal work are enough to win this Camaro awards, it is backed by the ultimate pro-touring powerhouse. Roaring to the tune of 600hp, the QMP Racing Engines-built LS7 V8 boasts JCG Dry Sump and Accessory Drive systems, and Detroit Speed Engineering (DSE) headers. Harnessing the 600 ponies is a T56 transmission and a clutch from Advanced Clutch Technology. Surprisingly, the Camaro is easily serviceable, a major factor in building the car how it is, according to Gonzalez.
Underneath the car you’ll find a complete DSE suspension system matched with a Moser 9-inch rearend and Wilwood brakes. This setup ensures that the Forgelines wrapped in Nito rubber get all the oomph and stopping power they could want.
The Camaro is also equipped with a custom JCG exhaust with Magnaflow mufflers, making sure the car has just as much bark as it does bite.
The interior of the Camaro was also reworked by JCG. “I like the ‘70 Trans Am feel,” said Gonzalez, so he molded the interior accordingly. In addition to work by Eric Thorsen Custom Upholstery, the interior of the Camaro features Pro-Parts and Spek gauges, as well as a custom dash and console with billet inserts created by JCG.
“I was lucky to have a customer who allowed me to make the car as nice and add as much detail as I wanted,” said Gonzalez. “I probably added 10 times the details as originally planned.”
The result is the one-of-a-kind Camaro you see here, dressed to impress with the goods to keep you coming back for more. “The car compliments the vision of what we can do at the shop,” said Gonzalez. “I got the freedom to build the car that I had always envisioned.”
And if one of these bad boys wasn’t enough, Gonzalez and Dunn have plans of building a second Camaro just like it.
Anything that didn’t make it into the first car will be on the second, giving the now friends something to play around with that’s a little lighter, fully caged and with more carbon fiber.
Debuted at the Las Vegas SEMA Show last year, Blu Blaz is only starting its pro-touring journey. Set to be shipped out to Tennessee in the next couple weeks, the Camaro will see plenty of pro-touring and autocross events this year, including a stint at the 15th Goodguys PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio in July as well as an appearance at the Popular Hot Rodding Shootout that follows. Keep your eyes peeled at your local pro-touring events, because if Blu Balz is in town, you won’t want to miss your chance to check it out.