Firewall

During the rebuild, Big Red was fitted with a new gas pedal assembly, master cylinders, and a new steering column. The firewall modifications included a thicker and larger plate to strengthen the area where the base of the steering column will reside. Another plate replaced the Swiss-cheesed area where the old master cylinders and other hoses had been located.

Dave and Tim used their manual bead roller to put strengthening beads in the new firewall panel. Dave used his trusty Miller welder to rosette-weld the new face panel to the old firewall left in place. Welding creates heat, which can cause the panels to warp, so Dave used a wet towel between welds to reduce the amount of heat going into the panel. Once Dave welded the new panel to the floorpan, he fabricated and installed new panels to box out the sides.

The team will be much happier the next time they have to swap the transmission at the track. Now they will be able to access all the bolts around the perimeter of the bellhousing, and changing spark plugs on cylinders 7 and 8 will be much easier.

When Bill Osborne originally set the engine back in the firewall, he only cut out the necessary section and retained much of the factory sheetmetal. During this rebuild, Dave and Tim didn’t deviate from the original 30-year-old plan, which was to keep as much of the Camaro’s steel as possible. Why would they? The key players on the team have been with the car since the beginning, or pretty close thereafter. They only repaired or replaced the necessary sheetmetal to get it back in shape, which made it more serviceable. They’ve worked on this car for so long, they know what areas need improvement.

Over the years, the firewall has been drilled full of holes for different reasons, which includes brake lines, fuel lines, oil hoses, and electrical and air tubes to pressurize the cabin to keep dust out while racing El Mirage. During the rebuild, the brake, fuel lines, and oil lines were relocated elsewhere for better service and/or protection.

The engine’s stock location places the back of the block in front of the firewall. Big Red’s heavily modified firewall allows the engine to be set back in the chassis 10 inches. This moved the weight toward the rear of the car, which improved weight distribution for a more balanced race car.