Tuning

Super Rare Chevy Can-Am Transformed Into 11-Second Street Car

In the early 70s Ford ruled the racetracks because the best of Chevrolet didn't make it to South Africa, so local dealers created their own monster.

Back when sex was safe and racing was dangerous, the Ford Capri Perana was impossible to catch on track, and so local Chevy dealers decided to build 100 special Chevrolet Firenza Can-Am cars in order to homologate the racecar they had built. As you can imagine, there's not many left these days, making original ones collector's items. Jo'burg-based Awie Pretorius is a Can-Am nut and so he procured one to modify a few years ago, much to the dismay of purists. Luckily he has a matching number original too.

The original Firenza Can-Am was nothing special at all, but it was a small 2-door option for a race car, weighing in at just over 2,000 lbs. Any decent motor could make for good power to weight, but with a Competition Camaro Z28 motor shoehorned in things became quite competitive. The 5.0-liter V8 made a decent 290 hp with 290 lb-ft that pushed the Can-Am to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, although a long ratio 'box allowed for a top speed of 80 mph in 1st gear alone. The Chevy Can-Am had a top speed of 142 mph, which in 1973 was pretty damn impressive. This was enough for the car to be competitive and hurt the Ford's winning reputation.

Awie's version (nicknamed Rolling Thunder) is stronger with 385 hp and 437 lb-ft, thanks to a list of choice mods - a 4-bolt 350 block, a Scat 383 crank, forged I-beam rods with forged Icon pistons and Hasting rings. Higher up there's a pair of Dart 2Sportsman heads, a Comp Extreme Energy cam, 1.6-inchroller rockers, an AFR intake, a 650 double pumper carb, a Powerhousedistributor and a full TNT exhaust system, while everything is bolted together with ARP studsand bolts where possible. On the transmission side there’s a Turbo 350 ‘box that’s backed up with 3500 rpm Fulrace stall converter. Added up, this rare Chevy Can-Am is an 11-second street car.

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